I talk a lot about art business and art careers here on Muddy Colors, and if I had to pick one piece of advice to give, one distillation of everything I’ve written about, it’s this: Having a successful career is only half about making great work — the other half is getting that work seen by the right people.
Getting your work seen by the right people is what’s called “pitching”. And “pitching” is simply the art of talking about your work. Whether you’re emailing your portfolio to an Art Director, trying to get an Editor to look at your book idea, or just talking to peers at networking events, you need to know how to pitch. You know what else is pitching? Writing your about page or artists statement for a gallery show. It’s also what you write when you share your projects on social media. Want people to back your Kickstarter? That’s a pitch. Want an AD to give you a portfolio review? First you have to pitch yourself to get an AD to give you time, then you need to pitch your work while you’re in the review. Work in-house and want a promotion? You need to pitch your manager. Once you start looking, you realize an artist (in fact, all kinds of creatives, not just artists) are pitching all the time.
Over the last 10 years that I’ve worked at Orbit (and a few years as an AD before that) I have heard countless artists talk about their work, and I’ve given hundreds (if not thousands) of portfolio reviews. I have to be honest, most of the artists I meet don’t pitch well. They undermine themselves and the strength of their work with insecurity, a lack of confidence, and misplaced modesty. Instead of promoting themselves, they cut down other artists. Over the few years that Marc & I have been running our Art Business Bootcamps, we’ve become very aware that one of the top needs artists have is training on talking and writing about their work. And conveniently I know the perfect person to teach the art of pitching. And this September, we are hosting an Art of the Pitch Intensive online class at Make Your Art Work.
Mallory O’Meara is an author, a film producer, a podcaster, a screenwriter, and more. Over the years I have known her, I have watched how many of her creative projects not only get made, but get an uncanny amount of support. Mallory has a method of talking about her work that never feels like salesmanship — it feels like you’re lucky to be hearing about her next project in time to get on board. She is the master of capitalizing on random meetings and follows up afterwards in a professional and never pushy way. When she said she was starting a podcast, I thought she was just going to play around for fun…but no, she pitched it to one of the biggest podcast networks out there and immediately got picked up. And her podcast, Reading Glasses, became one of the most popular shows on the network. She just finished her first full-length book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, coming out in hardcover by Hanover Press, and if I hadn’t been standing there when it happened I wouldn’t believe it — but she literally turned a random conversation about one of her tattoos into a book pitch, and that conversation (and more critically, the follow-up pitch) got her both a literary agent and a book deal with a major publishing house.
What makes Mallory such a great person to teach the art of pitching is her dual role of pitcher AND pitch receiver. In her role as a film producer for Dark Dunes Productions, she gets pitched constantly by other creatives, and she can critique a pitch from both sides of the fence.
As a little teaser for the class, we had Mallory write up the 5 top mistakes artists make when talking about their work for the Make Your Art Work blog. Check it out and see how many you struggle with.
And once you’ve read that, go check out the Course Info page on MakeYourArtWork.com. Registration is open now. The Classes are a mix of written course material and 4 live crowd cast sessions where you can ask questions and Mallory will workshop actual pitches from the class. The live sessions happen at 9pm on the 4 Wednesdays in September (5, 12, 19, & 26th). Get on the mailing list at the bottom of the course page and get more information and a reminder when registration goes live. See you in class!