Marketing Mondays: Artists' "Slide" Files

Back in the days of 35 mm slides, I conscientiously submitted my work to slide files like Artists' Space and The Drawing Center. Exactly one show came out of it: an artist-curated exhibition at a not-for-profit gallery in Tribeca at the moment when Tribeca was poised to become the next SoHo but never did..

Not long after that, most organizations made the switch to digital. By the time I got around to making the switch myself, I had a website and found that I could get pretty decent traction on my own with a judicious postcard campaign and good online images. I never looked back.

When Google arrived, the art world cracked open a whole lot wider. We discovered one another--and dealers and curators discovered us--in ways that hadn't been possible before.

So when Donna Dodson, the Boston-based sculptor, asked me recently if I'd ever done a MM post on contemporary "slide" files--cyber venues such as Saatchi Online (its slogan: Discover art. Get discovered), as well as digital files at the same venues where I once had slides--I had to say No.

Well, that's not a post. So I asked several dealer friends if they had used institutional image files recently.

"Why should I? I have Google," responded one dealer, clarifying that if his interest in an artist's work was piqued at an art fair or in other looking, he'd do an Internet search on the artist and then, possibly, contact the artist. Said another, building on the first remark: " Why should I use Google? I have my gallery artists' referrals, which lead me to artists' websites." Well, OK, then.

A few dealers mentioned having initially seen artists' work in New American Paintings, and I can tell you from personal experience that I have responded to dealers who found my work via a thematic Google search.

In looking over some MM posts, I was reminded of a dealer who quietly follows artists on Facebook, a strategy which, it turns out, is not all that unusual. And in a visit with a curator recently, I saw her personal files firsthand; there were postcards, articles and even printouts from online sources, organized by theme and artist.

Anecdotally, then, "slide" files seem to be going the way of actual slides.
So now I turn the topic over to you:
. Do you still have your work in image files?
. If so, which ones?
. How often do you update? And how easy is it to do so?
. Have you ever used one for a project you were working on?
. And here's the big question: Has your inclusion in a file led to an opportunity of any consequence?


annell4 said...

I have had some images in file, and the answer is no.

harold hollingsworth said...

I don't use files, but I do document, using flickr as a source for both work finished and in process. The blog has been my source of getting traction, and like yourself, I have found that it connects me like nothing before ever did.

Sarah Winkler said...

I used to have a handful of these at one point. I wish I could remember the names. I agree, Joanne, they seemed the thing to do in the transition period from 35mm slides to google searches and ultimately having an individual website.

As an artist I never look at them now so I would be surprised if a curator or dealer troweled through the endless pages of images that are usually arranged by media and not juried at all.

I do remember these having quite a time commitment in terms of updating images and portfolio information regularly. I personally never had any legitimate (non-internet scam) opportunity arise out of this avenue of promotion and did it for about a year before putting my efforts elsewhere.

Philip Koch said...

First off I want to say I am grateful to any arts nonprofti that maintains a "slide file." Surely they provide a useful service and the art world would be a poorer place without them.

A problem with "slide files" is that they usually contain an overwhelming number of artists that, well, overwhelm a viewer trying to find an artist. And a lot of artists who are just in the early stages of their careers often submit their work, so the overall level of quality and professionalism can be very uneven.

As one works at being an artist for morer years, one learns of other ways to contact dealers and curators on one's own. That makes more sense as one only has so much time that can be devoted to "getting the work out there."

Richard Bottwin said...

To answer your "Big Question": Just once.
around 2000, a good Philadelphia dealer saw my slides at the Dumbo Arts Center in Brooklyn and she represented me energetically for several years. That, of course, was before Google and Facebook became important. Also I had just turned 50. So, for nearly 30 years of a career, my slides, spread around the known universe, collected dust and probably no fingerprints...

Christopher Pelley said...

I think the old slide banks and their digital successors have a place in the career picture. Back in the 90's a curator found my images in a slide file, gave me a solo exhibition which resulted in sales and inclusion in a touring museum exhibition. I continue to list myself in digital files, but today my expectations are different. I try to use these sites as a part of an overall strategy to get my images out there and feed interested viewers to my web site. Many online sites offer stats on how many hits each image receives, and post my url as a contact. These days a resource which expands my google footprint is worth considering.

Unknown said...

For many years, longer than I wish to admit, I did maintain hard-copy "slides" and later digital slides in organizational/professional "Slide Files", thinking it was a good way to get work seen and selected for exhibitions. In the last few years, I have let that practice drop because I could not definitively identify any specific opportunities that came out of those "Slide Libraries". In the mean time, I found numerous opportunities have come from my web presence. I maintain a web-site, a Facebook Artist page, and I use Flickr. I see the slide Libraries as out dated for my purposes.

Kate P. Miller said...

I have old books full of slides, but in the past 10 years, nothing but digital. Never used these slide files

CMC said...

oh wow... I have so many slides. They are languishing and probably going bad. Yes they go bad......
I kind of breathed a sigh of relief that I could just send in digitals.
I did some slide registries but have not for some time.
Mostly, I keep up with my website (since 1998) a blog, and FB.
I keep sending images to galleries or any other venues I think will look at my work. When things are going well, I slack off sending images.
Like Philip sys... I am grateful for any registries that show artist work. I just keep doing what I can to promote my work. Mostly staying in the studio to MAKE work.

Jeff Woodbury said...

Speaking of slides, you know how you used to get a few completely black ones back in each batch that was processed? If anyone has any of those around, give me a shout - I use them in some of my work. And I switched to digital years ago, so my stock is depleted. Thanks!
And no, I never got any feedback at all from slide files. Having a website seems to work better. And it's an instant portfolio that's always with you.

KRCampbellArt said...

I did the same thing more than a decade ago. I submitted slides, and then digital files to Artist Space and one other and outside of a couple of scam emails I was never contacted for any legitimate exhibitions.
So I abandon the idea. Guess it was good for Cindy Sherman and Laurie Anderson though. ?

LXV said...

Well, believe it or not, the old Irving Sandler file at Artists' Space is the only registry that has produced any results for me. Over the past 30 years, whether slide or jpeg, I have been contacted about 4 or 5 times. That may not seem like a lot, but they resulted in legitimate and significant opportunities for me. Recently, it has fallen to me to do a bit of curating and the first place I looked was Artists' Space. I'm not a fan of their program and my work doesn't fit with what I perceive to be their aesthetic, but the slide file is equal opportunity and people have found me there. I'm tempted to take my work down from the half dozen or so "Saatchis" that I have joined over the years but the idea of spending all that time is daunting. So there's a whole bunch of less than ideal representation out there which, I suppose makes me more accessible to search engines, but does not represent my most recent work.

LXV said...

@Jeff Woodbury: why can't you just cut up some black sheet stock and stick it into slide mounts? Or if it's the emulsion you're after, get scraps of exposed ortho film from a printer and do the same.

Anonymous said...

I have had several good opportunities (quality group shows) come out of participating in CWOW's online slide registry. CWOW is based in Newark, NJ with a mission to support emerging artists. I believe any artist is eligible to join.

Michelle Paine said...

" These days a resource which expands my google footprint is worth considering. " -- Thanks Christopher Pelley, I will consider that.