Sign up to the newsletter

Effective Self-Promotion For Artists And Designers

Whether you have just started out or have been going for some years, self-promotion is essential at all stages of building a commercial art, illustration or design business. At the start of your creative professional life you need to dedicate time and resources to target your market for your artwork, products or services. Even if you have been trading for some years, your business needs to refresh its public face from time-to-time, failure to do so risks the chance of you being out of touch with current trends and practices.

Stylish, contemporary branding is absolutely crucial or at the very least having a carefully crafted design format for your online, digital and print materials is a must.

Some stylisation of your business or own name is now pretty standard. All your materials, whether they be images, photographs or interesting news, need to be formatted for different uses, e.g. print or PDF portfolio, brochure or website, postcard or social media post.

Short films, micro Vine, vloggers, documentaries, art tutorials or demonstrations are also all part and parcel of contemporary promotion via websites, social media and blogs. Many artists and designers are attracting new clients through uploading and the circulation of embedded links online. 

Self-presentation is very important, you have to present yourself as best you can though professional photography and film. Potential clients and commissioners like to see photographs of you at work in your studio as well as the traditional profile portrait shot.

Networking, especially face-to-face, may seem a very time-consuming activity set against the speed of modern day online communication, however, it is vitally important to cultivate your own professional contacts. Attending industry events and conferences are an opportunity to speak to people of influence in your industry. It is also imperative even in this digital age that you have really excellent business cards, never cut corners with your front line marketing materials.

Once you have gathered together a range of materials, e.g. images, storyboards, photographs, films, portfolios and prose about your work, you are ready to target your audience. Over recent years, some illustrators and designers have amassed a huge audience via Instagram. High levels of follows can attract commissions and sales. Targeting particular agents, art/design commissioners and businesses directly by phone, email or social media, and sending promotional packs by post, can all be equally effective.

Publicity stunts are a fantastic way to draw attention to your work; creating impact and being memorable are the key points you need to focus upon. For more details about developing networks, self-promotion and marketing yourself online, please refer to chapters 6, 7, and 12 of the Second Edition of The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers.

Alison Branagan is a creative industries business consultant, author, and an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design where she teaches short courses in entrepreneurship, business start-up and self-promotion. To browse Alison's titles, visit

Visit Alison's website or follow her on Twitter here