Quick question: What do you do?
Now, say the answer… out loud, quickly.
Whether you are an Art Consultant, a Sculptor, a Critic, a PR Expert, or a Conceptual Artist, you need to be able to tell people what you do when they ask (please note, “I am an Art Consultant” is not enough.) In most situations, you have about 30 seconds to sell whoever you’re talking to on who you are, what you do, and why you’re unique. The “Elevator Pitch” is Business 101, and it applies to the Art World, too. If you’re a consultant, you need to sell your services. If you’re a writer, you need to sell your voice. If you’re an artist, you need to sell your practice.
So, you should write one. Do it now. Learn it. Use it.
Look up “Elevator Pitch” online and you will get a lot of different forms and perspectives*. It’s worth a look to see how various industries and uses change the content of the pitch. If you want an easy but robust tool, check out the Harvard Business School’s Elevator Pitch Builder. It’s got great tips and an analysis at the end. In general, however, you can make a quick pitch by answering these questions:
Who are you?
What do you do (what form does your work take)?
Who is your audience (or what are you expressing)?
Why are you unique?
What do you want?
Example: “Hi, I’m Amy. I create politically-based installations that ask the viewer to question the imposed limitations of information access. My work often takes up entire walls and sometimes rooms and I do a huge amount of research for each project. You can see some of the work I’ve done my website. (hand over business card)”
Here’s ours: “Hi, we’re OAC. We’re a mobile community center with a visual arts focus. We help artists and art-workers to be professionally and creatively independent while giving the public deeper access to the arts through residencies, workshops, and affordable collecting. We’re unique in that we feel like the wealthy elite shouldn’t be the only taste-makers in the Art World and focus on providing opportunities and resources for those who are most passionate about the arts, regardless of their status or income. I hope you’ll come check out our next workshop (or buy some great accessibly-priced are, or support our next residency…)”
This may not say everything, but it says enough to get your listener interested and start a real dialogue.
Even better, make your pitch 10 words or less, then you have a tag line!
Here’s our attempt:
“OAC, we even the Art World’s playing field!”
*A few of my favorite links in the “Elevator Pitch” search:
Harvard Business School’s Elevator Pitch Builder
A quick fill-in-the-blank (note, this one’s for lawyers, but whatever)
Pitt Business (this one’s businessy, but easy to use and adjust for your own use)