You are currently viewing New Series: Understanding Art Public Relations With Ellie Hayworth

New Series: Understanding Art Public Relations With Ellie Hayworth

The role of public relations in the art world is growing increasingly important. “Who does their PR?” is becoming a common question overheard at gallery openings and museum events. With the continued growth of the art industry, hiring a publicist that helps shape and frame the public’s perception of an arts organization or institution is a growing top priority.


If you google “art PR,” there isn’t much that comes up on this topic, so we decided to enlist the help of art world professional and PR rising star, Ellie Hayworth. Ellie is the CEO and Founder of Hayworth, an independent PR + communications consultancy firm committed to promoting intrepid ideas in the arts.


Talking Shop with Ellie Hayworth will explore the fundamentals and insights into the world of art PR + communications. To kick it off, we sat down with Ellie to learn more about her background, how she got into art PR, and what we can expect to see from her column.


Art Zealous: Professional background?

Ellie Hayworth: I consider myself quite fortunate to have worked at a variety of arts and culture institutions. In high school, in Miami, I participated in a summer intensive at the bilingual advertising and marketing agency, Zubi where we developed creative multimedia campaigns that amplified their clients’ brand and were encouraged to always push the envelope. My next opportunity led to a very different experience—an internship with the Director’s Office at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum while pursuing my degree in Communication Studies and Art History at Vanderbilt University. There I had my first taste of media relations by supporting radio and broadcast spots for talent such as Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire. I was hooked.


Post-graduation, a move to New York City thrust me back into the heart of art and culture—I held an editorial internship at Vogue followed by roles with Lehmann Maupin and Marianne BoeskyI was inspired to further hone my expertise with a Master of Arts in Art Business with Sotheby’s Institute of Art here in the city.  For me, this was a most formative experience, as I quickly became empowered to speak articulately, knowledgeably, and confidently about the mechanics of the art market. Through the program, I became acquainted with the new peer to peer digital secondary market platform, ArtList, where I ultimately would contribute to marketing, PR, and sales while simultaneously driving their social media presence. I then moved on to Account Executive roles with art PR and communications agencies Third Eye and Resnicow and Associates before following my heart and launching my independent venture with Hayworth.


AZ: What was the driver for launching Hayworth?

EH: It’s no secret that I’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch, and I’ve been fortunate to have had incredible mentors throughout my career.  Working collaboratively with many types of clients in identifying needs and defining success, I realized that my results-oriented, highly-personalized approach to PR + communications could make a real difference for these organizations. It became apparent to me that there existed a strategic niche—an industry need—with so many of these exciting galleries, arts platforms, and institutions. I was confident that my experience, approach and grit would contribute to our joint success.


AZ: What is the scariest part about being a business owner? Most exciting part?

EH: Interestingly for me, diving head-first into this rather exciting venture has proven far less daunting than my acknowledgment of the responsibility I have towards my client and team partners. I owe it to my client partners to help them grow and achieve their financial and industry goals. I owe it to my team partners to facilitate exposure to all of the learning opportunities I have been afforded in my career.  For me, it is also about providing a forum for new and diverse ideas and this goal is achieved by being good community partners. The most exciting part of my undertaking is partnering with talented professionals and thought leaders in the industry and employing a team that passionately represents these values with a lot of heart.


AZ: What is the best advice you received?

EH: Trust your professional instincts. Be a curious and critical listener. Stay hungry for the hustle.


George Segal at ICA Miami


AZ: We love the aesthetic of your logo, website and branding material. What was the thought process behind the design and using the color red?

EH: It started with my business card.  I’m very old school in that regard — I love to facilitate an introduction or conclude a conversation by exchanging cards.  I knew that I wanted something sleek, bold, and punchy. Hayworth needed to stand out amidst the barrage of business cards, press materials, and flyers accumulated when networking, particularly on the art fair circuit.  My hope was that by using such a highly-saturated tone of electric red, our materials would never get buried at the bottom of a fair-going tote or purse.  You can’t help but spot the card and associate the vigor in our color-way with Hayworth’s vigor for interpersonal relations.  We keep it simple and allow our work, our clients, and our reputation to speak for itself.



AZ: What is one thing that would surprise people about the field of art PR?

EH: I believe there exists a misconception that serious art journalists are somehow averse to collaborating with PR + communications firms, when in fact, I’ve found some of my most valuable friendships in the art industry to have come through such collaborations. The quality of thought and depth of understanding that formulates their stories inspires us as communications professionals to continue upping the ante on how we can yield greater access, provide more detailed information, and best communicate the integrity of our clients’ messages.  The journalists keep us on our toes to be the best ambassadors possible for our client’s, the industry and for the art.


AZ: Favorite coffee shop

EH: Swallow Café in Brooklyn — something about the old-wood feel and the studious tone appeals to my intellectual side.



Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum



AZ: What are some of your must-see summer shows?

EH: There is no denying that we’ve all been struck by Giacometti fever, but his current retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum—his first major solo exhibition in NYC in over 15 years—is truly a standout.  It was so poignant for me to see so many of his isolated, elongated figures, many of which represent friends and family near and dear to his heart. The exhibition particularly resonates in light of our political moment. John Akomfrah’s first US survey exhibition, Signs of Empire at the New Museum, and Swiss Institute’s Readymades Belong to Everyone, the inaugural exhibition in their new space, are two others not to be missed this season.



AZ: Art world crush?

EH: Dan Colen—I’m absolutely smitten…with his art, of course!



AZ: Art PR was relatively rare a few years ago and now there seems to be a massive expansion in this field…

EH: Now more than ever, the art world is a highly competitive marketplace, with so many deserving players vying for recognition.  We savvy art-goers are exceptionally hungry for information—we are driven by a curiosity to discover, learn, create, and identify with the highest quality art and programming.  With the recent explosion of the art fair circuit and the growing number of new, innovative platforms and institutions there exists now more than ever the need for PR to propel the importance of the arts in our local and global communities. It is our role as the communicators, the publicists, the strategists to counsel on how best to build constituencies, cultivate audiences, and generate due public support.



AZ: What can our readers expect to see from your column?

EH: It is so exciting to have this platform to tackle topics—both big and small.  I will strive to explore best practices, provide insights into new media and publications to follow, discuss strategy, share personal anecdotes, and provide advice to readers eager to get involved in this sector of the market.  I am also hopeful to engage some of my fellow colleagues in the industry to highlight diverse voices, specializations, experiences, and approaches to explore the various aspects of PR + communications.


top image // Ellie Hayworth, photographed by Wendy Bowman