As most successful artists learn early in their professional careers, creating a work of art is a lot easier than marketing and promoting their body of work. By their general nature, artists are happiest squirreled away in a well-lit studio pursuing flights of fancy with their paint brushes, charcoal, water colors, pastels and other media. Gallery placement exposes their work to a limited number of art patrons, but to promote one’s business, few pieces of collateral offer better exposure than a brochure. Given today’s desktop publishing tools, designing one isn’t difficult and the best part of the process is that a brochure is a living document. New paintings can replace old ones on the fly, making your artist’s brochure as current as your best work.
Survey the art currently in your studio. Isolate the best examples of your art and photograph each using a digital camera. Transfer the images to your computer, and store them in a folder marked “Brochure Images.”
Examine the photos you plan to include in your brochure. Determine what color will work best as a background to showcase your paintings. In many cases, black will make the images pop, but if your work is somber, a warm background may be your best choice. Don't discount white.
Open an 11” x 8.5” document in Microsoft Word, InDesign, QuarkXpress or whatever word processing or page layout program you prefer. Choose "three columns" from the pull-down menu to create a template for a three-panel brochure. Add a second page using the same parameters to create a two-sided document. Select both pages and drop in the background color you’ve chosen.
Treat each of the six panels as separate units. On the far right panel of side one, establish your brochure cover panel by placing your best work (preferably a vertical image to better suit the area) there. Add a short amount of text. Many artists choose their name or studio name above the Jpeg they've chosen for this panel so the art gets the most attention.
Lay out side two as a “gallery.” Artfully arrange the remainder of your Jpegs across the interior three panels. Add an appropriately sized frame to each photo to make the paintings stand out. Place text boxes beneath each of the images, and key in the title of each artwork.
Design side one as an informational vehicle. Treat the two remaining panels as opportunities to sell your story. Drag or place a text box across the panels. Write a short biography. Include your education, awards, gallery showings, painting media and other credentials that speak to your training and achievements. If you have the room to do so, add a recent headshot.
Complete your brochure by adding contact information to both sides of the brochure. Whether you choose to include your e-mail or web address only, a phone number and/or your address, be certain anyone receiving the brochure knows where to reach you should they wish to purchase your work.
Adjust the images and text until you are satisfied with the look of the brochure. If your computer system offers a “print both sides” option, select it. If not, print side one, re-insert the sheet into your printer feed and print side two. Use the paper stock intended for the brochure so you can examine the quality of the ink while you check the text and graphic placements. Fold the brochure into thirds to make sure all elements fall within the parameters of the folds.
Make changes as necessary, then save the document. If you prefer to have the brochure printed by a professional, create a PDF, burn a disk and take it to your printer. Be sure to bring a paper sample of the brochure as a guide.
Using your original brochure as your template, add and remove photos as you complete new paintings in the future. Revise text each time you have noteworthy news. Keep the brochure current to maximize your promotional efforts.
Resist the urge to add prices to your brochure to anticipate market or personal changes you may make. Instead, create a price list on a separate piece of paper that's set up as a three-panel document. List each work and its price on each panel. Use a paper cutter to separate the price lists. Tuck one into each brochure.
Printers like to get PDF-formatted brochures because photos and text are embedded in the file, but you can't change a PDF once it's made. Always save a copy of the finished brochure in its original software format so you can revise and replace images and copy in the future.