It used to be that when an artist asked me “what’s the best way to promote my opening?” We would have a discussion of press releases, postcards, email blasts, and phone calls. My answer was always the same, “What do you do? All of it.”. If you want to get the word out, it is incumbent upon you to use all the avenues available. If you don’t, and you don’t get the results you want, you don’t have to look any further for the cause.

Now there is the same issue with on-line marketing. You can post an announcement on your website, send out personal emails, make an event on FaceBook, and create a Constant Contact (or equivalent) newsletter. What do you do? All of it. Now we put the event on our website first, write a e-newsletter announcement second. Post the e-newsletter to our blog. Put an event announcement with a blog link in Face Book. And finally, start sending out personal emails to our close constituents and friends.

This is even before we start press releases, PSA’s, Postcards, and phone calls. Marketing is a lot of work, but the alternative, as far as I can see, is to get a job. If getting your work out to the public in a remunerative manner is important to you. You have to be prepared to do the work.



After years of marketing and promotional services for artists and other creative types,  I am working on the publication of a new book of essays by my wife, Erin Lee Gafill. Drinking from a Cold Spring will be published on April 24, 2009, on Nepenthe’s 60th Anniversary.

Erin is a working artist in Big Sur, California. Together we live in the Log House above Nepenthe, pictured at the top of my post. Besides being a gifted and award winning painter, Erin has maintained a writing practice through her on line journal. These writings focus on the tension between creative practice and day to day life.

I believe that creative expression is the highest form of human expression. Through creativity in all it’s forms, people attempt to make visible, that which is invisible. The attempt to synthesize a subjective experience into a concrete part of the objective lexicon is the primary purpose of a creative life. By exercising a creative practice we bring our own point of view more in line with the methods and mysteries of The Creation.

No one lives a life of pure creative expression. Every day life gets in the way of focus. These distractions can be internal or external, petty or profound, personal or global.  Drinking from a Cold Spring is an attempt to document the integration of life and creativity. It speaks directly to every person who has ever picked up a pen or paint brush; changed a diaper or cooked dinner; stood on stage before an audience or sat before a potters wheel; loved and lost or been left to wonder at the meaning of it all.

Its central message is stay present. Stay focused. Get out of the way of who is really doing the work. Keep your head in the work, stay out of the results.

Being able to bring this manuscript to fruition has been an exciting experience. Through the process, we have crafted a group of seemingly disparate essays into a narrative that we hope will be of value to others.

Working on this project already involves learning a myriad of new skills and the use of new publication and promotional tools. Through this blog, I will document my ideas and experiments, methods and technologies, successes and failures. By taking the time to record this information, I intend to memorialize a set of activities for my own record, as well, I hope, to provide insight and information for the use of others who are trying to develop commercial success in support of a creative life.

We will see.

Tom Birmingham