Dear Artists & Art Publicists: Let me help you do your job.

Don’t make me do it. (Photo by badjonni.)

All right. I’ve had it. It seems that just about everybody with a working e-mail account has seen fit to blast the digital universe with promotional messages laden with bandwidth-guzzling attachments. Everyday, I get dozens of e-mails with PDFs and Word documents and high-res JPGS. And all I gotta say is, for the sake of speedy internet access everywhere, STOP RIGHT NOW. An explanation:

  1. Attachments: When you send your precious press release as an attachment and not as in-message text, here’s what happens: I gotta download it. I gotta open it. I gotta eat up precious memory on my creaky freelancer laptop to discover that some genius artist is recontextualizing the meaning of ‘other.’ In other words, you’re wasting my time. And on days when I’m cranky, it means I don’t open the attachments. I just delete your e-mail and think you’re a hoser.
  2. Stop it with the PDFs Already: For fuck’s sake, it’s a press release, not a last will and testament. When I’m done with it, it’s gonna be used as avian toilet paper in the cage of my pet parrot, Polly. Save the 1500KB worth of memory and send me an in-message text. I’ll be far more likely to read it. If you’re really cool, it’ll include direct links to the event you’re promoting. (See item #4 on this list.)
  3. Photos: If you want to send me photos, don’t. Get a Flickr account. Upload them. Send me the links. If you don’t want the world to see them, set them on private and generate a special URL for viewing. There are other ways to manage photographs — other than spamming the world’s servers with them. If you don’t know what any of this means, talk to the nerds in IT about options. Seriously, those freaks know what they’re doing.
  4. Links: They work. Try them. If you’re e-mailing about a particular exhibit, how awesome would it be if you sent a link to that exhibit. Or, if you’re a PR agency, how awesome would it be if you sent a link to the exhibit you’re promoting, rather than a (useless) link to your agency’s corporate website.  Thinking about sending a PDF with web addresses buried in the text? See item #1 on this list.
  5. HTML: If you’re all hell-bent on some fancy looking communique with embedded images, may I introduce you to the low-res world of HTML. There are easy-to-use services, such as iContact, for this. Ask around.

That’s all for today’s Welcome to the New Millennium tutorial.

Thanks for your continued support.




  1. KS

    I blame this sad state of affairs on Steve Jobs, for bringing us ever closer to the Totally Thoughtless Convenience promised by high tech.

    By burying complexity (including any notion of file size or format) under an intuitive interface and lozenge-like packaging, we’ve been turned into apes like the ones hooting at the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001.

    Bill Gates has brought untold suffering to the brains of billions, but at least some of them have an idea what “100K” means.

  2. Christopher Albert

    I think you’ve just written a Marketing Monday post for Joanne Mattera. Maybe she’ll be able to take next Monday off and just link to this.

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  4. Tom

    Excellent advice! Will forward a link to this article to a few of our artist management and PR clients.

  5. Barry

    I have another one. If I want a link to use in a blog post, don’t send me to something that looks like that will change as soon as your next event happens.

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  7. Michael DeLong

    This is great because it’s exactly everything I am already doing, including sending permanent links (re Barry’s comment). Good to know I am on the right track.

  8. Todd Walker

    I’ll second that one from Barry.

    And don’t use a graphic or image to display your contact information, or heaven forbid, the full body of your press release. I’ve seen some folks just attaching a (badly compressed) screenshot of their snail mail flyer! I know everyone wants to be pushing their gallery “brand”, but is it more important to see your typeface correctly or that I be able to paste your gallery’s address into my blog post?

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  10. Walter Rodriguez


    This is Walter Rodriguez.
    I am a painter and also friends with Franck de las Mercedes. I have written to you before and I would now like to cordially invite you to attend and art exhibit at “QbaVa Gallery” a brand new venue in Union City, NJ dedicated to showing the creative works of contemporary Cuban Artists. This show I am inviting you to is the second one of its kind and is showing 16 Cuban artists from different parts of the world myself included. It would be a true honor to have you attend this event. The information to the gallery is the following.

    508 42nd Street
    Union City, NJ, 07087

    thanks for your time and hope to see you there.

  11. Justine Harvey

    In case you haven’t seen, I thought you and your readers might be interested in catching the last week of London artist Kevin Osmond’s ‘Viewfinder’ exhibition at Davidson Contemporary:

    724 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor, New York

  12. Lucas Spivey

    Great post and well needed. I will be sending this to the PR people I know.

    Also, I love how the two posts before me are shameless plugs; but at least they are using the format you are describing.

  13. Brad Ford Smith

    I agree with Lucas totally. Thanks for putting this in writing. Most of it is just common sense if you stop to think about it.


  14. Joanne Mattera

    @ Christopher Albert: You made me LOL. In fact, I’m writing a post now (for October 25, 2010,a full year later!)and linking to Carolina’s. Thanks for this, C-Mon.

  15. Peg Grady

    I found this through Joanne Mattera’s link…she didn’t take the day off, and for that I am grateful.

  16. Neil

    No idea if you’d have suggestions…

    Jane Wooster Scott(most reproduced artist ever) and I are launching a gift brand translating her art onto many different products-we are looking for a publicist that may be able to assist.
    First show will be NYC gift Jan 30-Feb 3