An artist publicist works either directly for one artist as part of an art gallery or for a public relations firm overseeing the careers of many artists. Fine artists, musicians and actors whose careers are building or are already successful look to a publicist to help manage and build their reputation. Many publicists have a bachelor's degree in public relations or arts management, but much of their experience comes from on-the-job training.
One of a publicist's main duties is to act as a liaison between the artist and the press. For an emerging artist, this can mean the publicist pitching story ideas to reporters at relevant publications. Positive press aligns a client with other important figures in the field or with institutions. Press relations also entails mediating interviews and public appearances, such as a new actor wanting to be seen in photos with a well-known peer.
An artist publicist organizes publicity campaigns for clients. For actors this may mean visiting major cities around a film's premiere and for a musician it could be interviews around his tour dates. Arranging a publicity campaign includes traveling with and scheduling interviews and appearances for the client. To do this, you must know the press well and the important events in a city, so your client will appear everywhere from press conferences to charity events to local hotspots.
An artist's publicist must always have their client's public reputation forefront in her mind. Mistakes happen, a client says something inappropriate or what she says get misconstrued, or inappropriate behavior comes to light in the press. As a publicist, you must always be 100 percent available to correct false statements and draft responses with the client. Maintaining positive relationships with members of the press and advising your client on potentially damaging behaviors play into this aspect of the job.
Sometimes a client will look to an artist publicist for advice on his career path. This can range from visiting a certain film premiere, a music venue or considering a new art gallery. It's important to be on top of the reputation of those your client is considering associating with and suggesting alternatives as needed. An arts publicist has the responsibility to highlight and promote the best aspects of your artist's personality, creativity, motivation and her role in her field.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.