He's a robot!
He sits by my computer and helps me write!
My new friend Write Bot is #11,105 in artist Gary Hirsch's "joy bot" project, which seems to consist mainly of tiny robots painted onto dominoes. From the website: "Each Bot is a hand painted, signed and numbered, one-of-a-kind art object. Bots are programmed to you give you outrageous compliments, help you be brave, take all of the blame, even clone you so you could get more done." Now, I've lived in Portland and written about its arts scene for long enough to develop a healthy resistance to whimsy, so why am I writing about Hirsch and his "tiny, hand-painted robot army"? Because Hirsch's smart self-promotion broke through my protective, definitely-not-made-of-anything-as-cute-as-candy shell long enough for me to take a look at what is actually a sweet, charming little project. I'll show how he did it after the jump!
The point of all of this really isn't free-stuff or ass-kissing—it's keeping in mind that on the receiving end of your press release/flyer/Facebook invite is an actual human being. Artists and publicists quite frequently get bogged down in grandiose language and weird hyperbole, but here's the thing: If you're trying really hard to sound smart and important when you describe your art, you're probably going to end up sounding like you're not sure what kind of art you make. Self-promotion is a bitch, but at the end of the day you're communicating with another person, not competing in the high-falutin' artist statement Olympics, and Hirsch's fun, funny letter is a great example of how to do it right.
While we're here: The requirements of self-promotion and marketing are ever-evolving, obviously (Facebook event planning is the worst), and go way beyond mere press releases, but media outreach is certainly part of it—here's a post I did a few years ago on how to write a good press release. (Read the comments, too.)