Hi there,

Welcome to the glorious month of May!

There is an eerie stillness descending around the area where I’m staying, and the realization that winter is here has dawned on all South Africans. Most are slipping into a seasonal depression, filled with grumbling and griping. Then, of course, there’s me: joyfully pulling out my woollen garments, and relishing the cold evening air with a cup of tea.  (Here is the perfect ASMR tea party: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72woNh5VXHk&t=807 ) The drop in temperature is a reprieve from migraine attacks, and my energy seems boundless. 

 
 
 

Because I’m planning my exhibition, from start to finish, I’ve been scouring the net for all the elements I need. One factor that felt mountainous to conquer was putting together a decent-looking press kit. Once you have all the text and photos ready, it is quite simple. The hardest part is making the images fit the document layout. Press kits are not for events only, and many high-profile artists have it available in case someone wants to interview them. I’ve also had to submit one when I wanted a gallery to showcase my art, with great success too. For me, it is a cheaper option compared to printing x-amount of copies of my art in a brochure format. Plus, it’s more eco-friendly. So, if you wondered what goes into a press kit, and if the prospect of putting one together seems daunting, don’t worry, I’ll simplify it for you.

Firstly you need high-quality photos of your artwork, and by staging them with props, you can create dynamic images that also tell an appealing story. For great examples, have a look at @aneamies_welt and @sergiogomezart. Where Sergio posts photos of himself working in his studio and his art hanging on walls, Anne surrounds her art with crystals, her tools and various sprigs of flowers and leaves. Another great example is @auniakahn, who takes photos from unusual angles. Then comes the text. It would be best if you had a compelling biography and an artist statement. A biography is generally written in the third person and highlights your best achievements as well as tell the audience what type of art you make. Here are some helpful websites to get you writing a kick-ass biography:

https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/how-to-write-an-appealing-artist-biography

https://blog.society6.com/write-the-perfect-artist-bio-with-these-five-simple-tips/

https://www.lightspacetime.art/how-to-write-an-effective-artist-biography/

https://canvas.conceptionarts.com/how-to-write-artist-bio/

An artist statement is slightly different because it’s a short paragraph that should describe you or your work. It’s usually between 150 to 200 words. My statement sums up my style, suits my personality, and I chose to write it in a first-person perspective:

My art represents a bewitching decomposition of nature, with macabre themes on the fringe of an absurd daydream. Inspiration finds me at the bottom of a teacup; floating on the colourful stream of a musical note, or dust particles exploding from a fallen leaf. My technique is a trapeze between realism and surrealism. You can find me, living and creating in the heart of South Africa.

If you need a little guidance on where to start, here are some links:

https://thecreativeindependent.com/guides/how-to-write-an-artist-statement/

https://www.gyst-ink.com/artist-statement-guidelines

https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/art/how-to-write-artist-statement

You will also need to caption your art where applicable: Title of the piece, medium(s), and dimensions. It makes it easier for the gallerist or interviewer to write about your artwork. If you had previous exhibits and interviews, list them as well. If you don’t have pages and pages of exhibitions, that’s fine too, list what you did in school or college as well. If you don’t have any shows under the belt, write an additional piece about the process of each artwork you’ve listed, along with some work-in-progress or in-studio photos.

It’s a good idea to add your resume, and here you can list all your achievements if you don’t have too much work experience. Mine has a summary of my work experience, even the admin jobs because I feel that I’m using and applying all that knowledge in my art career.

Finally, you will need to add your contact details and if possible, a good photograph of yourself in your studio or a portrait. Because social media is such a massive part of my art career, I’ve added a few Instagram pics in my media kit.

While I’m no expert in press kit creation, I do feel confident that mine is a decent template to use. To make things easier on you and give you a leg-up, here is a blank template you can use to create the press kit of your dreams:

 

Download your Press Kit template here

 

All the black boxes are placeholders for your photos, and you can change the fonts if you don’t like the ones I’ve used. Both are free fonts you can download here:

https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Kaushan+Script

https://www.freebestfonts.com/calibri-font

 
 

My template is designed to catch the eye at the right place and has all the relevant information, but not in an essay layout. Sure, it’s risky to present a more creative-looking resume, but that would also depend on who the recipient is. I definitely won’t be sending mine to a corporate stiff-upper-lip company.   Do you have a resume layout that works well for you? You can also download my template and adjust it to suit your needs. I’ve made A4 and US letter sizes, and added a cover letter along with the other assets I used.  

 

Download your resume template(s) here.

 
 

People often ask me how I take photos of my art for social media and what apps I use. I’d love to say I use only the best photography equipment, but the truth is, I use my smartphone the most. Occasionally I’ll use a DSLR camera if I want high-quality images, but that is an exception. When it comes to preparing my photos for social media, I use my laptop and apps that have a monthly licence fee: Adobe Photoshop and Envato Elements. But I also use the free version of Photoshop Express on my phone, as well as PhotoDirector. You can download them in the app store. Both are available for Android and ios.

https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-express.html

https://www.cyberlink.com/downloads/trials/photodirector-photo-editing-software/download_en_US.html

Another trick is to take your photos in natural light, which reduces editing and increases the quality. I don’t use studio lights; I set up next to a window or outside. I also play around with the angle, and I love adding a few props such as leaves, my paintbrushes or sometimes my hand holding a pencil. Sometimes the original photo doesn’t look that good, and that is where a bit of fine-tuning is needed.

Although I’m a huge fan of Photoshop, it is quite pricey and has a considerable learning curve. Luckily, there are alternatives. If you want to try out some photo editing, here are some fantastic free apps for your laptop or pc:

https://www.photopea.com/

https://bit.ly/37ZzhdW

https://bit.ly/2PKhS2P

https://www.canva.com/

https://www.gimp.org/

 
 

Natural remedies are imbued with magical powers because they’ve been handed down through generations. I still use many natural remedies for minor ailments, especially when I feel a bit of a sore throat coming on. My favourite is a decoction of cinnamon, cloves and honey. It’s wonderfully soothing and always perks me up. Substituting natural remedies for actual medication is never a good idea, and I suggest you consult your doctor or chemist before trying this recipe. If you use a similar recipe, let me know, I’d love to try it.

 

Download my Winter Warmer Tea Recipe.

 
 

Especially for my friends in the northern hemisphere, I have a little DIY to keep you fresh during the hot summer months: A cardboard paddle fan. It’s super easy to make, and I’ve added a few macabre touches to round it off.

You will need:

  • Plain printer paper 
  • Glue of your choice
  • Thick, sturdy cardboard of about 22cm x 21cm
  • Popsicle stick for reinforcement
  • Exacto knife or scissors

Simply print out your paddle fan on a standard piece of paper, cut it out and glue it to your cardboard. Once the glue has dried, cut out your paddle and glue the popsicle stick to the back. You are ready to give the royal wave to onlookers as you casually fan yourself.

 
 
 
 

Thank you once again for reading and please share with your art-minded friends and family. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:

https://tinyletter.com/LisaNightshade

In next month’s edition, I’ll share some re-useable ideas for social media posts, a DIY I simply can’t live without and so much more.

 
 

See you in June!

 Lisa

If you missed out on previous editions, you can still read it and download the resources here.