I had a dream, just a few short months ago; I uttered a statement to Master Alicea, at Alicea's Martial Arts School, about my desire to do an art exhibit/sale. What he said next set the plans in motions for all the planning and execution of my recent art show.
Within a few days I had picked a date. A few days after that I came up with a name for the event, with a little help. The poster for the event was designed by another dear friend, paid for, and then it was finally posted in my art page. Upon posting, several other people came forward with a desire to help out in some way to the success of the show.
I thought a lot about the movie called Field of Dreams that I watched several years ago. There were days that I wondered if I could physically get enough work ready for this event. It has been quite a journey over the last year, with illness and other setbacks, but I set out on a course to accomplish a goal.
Here are some tips that I can pass on to you that I have learned from the experience. How, Where, When: What All Is Involved? How Do You Reach the Public?
When you are an artist, there are always art shows to either put on, participate in, or attend. They are part of surviving as a professional artist. Doing art shows is a part of the artists commitment to their art. The artwork has to reach the public.
But the how, what, where, when. What all is involved tends to escape our abilities as artists. After all, we just want to produce our work, right? We don't really want the task of getting the work out there in front of our audience. Well, who else is going to do it for us....if not us?
True, you could hire some technology guy behind a website to, but that takes a lot of money and as artists, we may not necessarily have that kind of dough. Well, maybe you do. I didn't.
In this hub, I will try to touch on various things to consider when you want to run your own art show and sale. You will probably have ideas of your own also. It can be done.
Remember, Remember the Date of the Event
The first thing to do is to establish the dates, allowing time to have some promotion materials printed. Trying to create or organize an art show can be very difficult if you don't know what you're doing. It was a challenge for me. However, I had a lot of help and by following these tips and steps, you'll be putting on an art show in no time!
If you take the time to prepare up front your show will come across as slick, well organised and professional, which in turn gives potential buyers of your art confidence.
Venue: The "Where?"
Event centers are great places to have art shows. Try talking to the owners. If they don't have art on their walls, try introducing them to the idea. Not only will it make them look good (by supporting local art), you will have a place to exhibit your art.
Try any place:
- Local shops
Name of Exhibit
It took me a while to come up with the perfect name, but with some help I managed to find the right one.
Choosing a good title for your art is important. It says something about what the drawing or painting means to you as an artist and gives the viewer some clues about approaching the piece. The same can be said about the exhibit as a whole.
Write up a budget for your art show.
Include in your budget: artists’ fees, project fees, overhead, advertising, printing catalog and invitations, shipping and handling, customs duty, framing, installing, lighting and opening expenses.
- Putting on an exhibition can quickly add up.
- Plan any new work that needs to be made.
- Make sure your mailing list is updated and ready to go. Budget for postal costs.
Getting your Artwork Ready for the Show
- If you are framing work, then you must consider that framing will take many hours to complete and weeks of planning- plus the time to ship them and put them together.
- I personally work with gallery wrapped canvases, so there was no framing involved, but I still had to plan to have all my work ready by a certain time, plus to have all the hanging materials installed on the back.
- Keep in mind that making titles and labels with pricing will probably take a full day.
- Consider laying out a show with a diagram if you know the size of the walls in advance.
- Photograph your art work. Once it gets purchased then you might never see it again!
- Frame your artwork if required. Allow plenty of time for your picture framer to do a quality job.
- Make sure all your artworks are suitable for hanging or display with wire and O-rings attached.
- Wrap your artworks up ready for transportation. Buy bubble wrap in bulk lots from a packaging wholesaler or supplier. Don’t buy small rolls from your office supplier. or you will pay too much.
- Arrange a truck, hatchback or station wagon to transport your works.
- Make a Certificate of Authenticity for each artwork.
- Have a special rubber stamp made up to use with the certificate. It looks great and buyers love them.
Guide to Items for Display and Possible Uses
- Plinths: stands for works that need to be displayed away from walls. Usually reserved for sculptures, which is useful if you are working collaboratively with sculptors.
- Hooks: attachments found at the back of frames, to allow hanging. The most common way of displaying works.
- Tape: acid-free tape for non-framed works. You can buy this tape at any good art shop, and they are usually double-sided.
- Ceiling hooks: if you need to hang works from the ceiling. Can be effective for a series of small photographs.
Press Releases and Announcements
- Plan how you will advertise.
- Make sure you send out notices to local paper weeks in advance to meet their deadlines.
- Post regularly on Social Media, giving people an idea of how things are going, with images of your preparation and artwork. I love this Article that was written about my show recently.
- Put up posters too around town.
- Make letter size and smaller flyers to give out to friends in person
- Mail out postcards, if your budget allows.
- If you have an email list, send that out with a “save the date” email, etc.
Announcement Contents Checklist
- Title of show.
- Dates of show.
- Hours the show will be open to the public.
- Date and time of opening reception.
- Venue and address, phone number, email, and website information.
- Directions, if needed.
- Parking info. This is especially important in high-traffic/urban locations.
- If the space is wheelchair accessible, note this on the invite.
- List of artists in the show, or your name.
- Consider bringing in other businesses to sponsor your exhibition.
- Feature them prominently on your exhibition catalog.
- Ask businesses to sponsor lucky door prizes.
- Make sure you mention the sponsors clearly for each prize draw they sponsor.
- You may even be able to get sponsorship for catering.
- Arrange goody bags for each exhibition attendee containing sponsor leaflets, any freebies and your business card.
Food and Entertainment
- What nibbles will you provide?
- What drinks will you provide? Remember to provide both alcoholic and soft drinks. I once had a slushie machine and added spirit to the mix. Instant self-service cocktails!
- Hire in professional caterers if you haven’t got time to do it yourself.
- Hire professional wait staff or get some friends in to assist with serving.
- Do you need musicians, a DJ or at least someone to change a carefully chosen CD once in a while?
Music is a good way to add some ambiance to the event. The easiest way is to play music in the background. You can also invite some musicians to play live music, but it’s best that they are acoustic. You want the music to compliment your event, not overshadow it. Also, remember to feed and water your musicians to keep them happy.
- Create labels for every artwork containing the title, price, medium and size.
- Try and have artworks priced in various ranges, so that everyone has an opportunity to buy something.
- Get some red stickers for artworks sold on the night.
- Try and have some artworks that are hanging but have been pre-sold before the opening night with red dots on them. It gives people confidence and encourages them to buy.
- Appoint sales assistants and let them know how to process sales
- Set up a system for receipting. This could be as simple as a carbon copy receipt book.
- Keep details of all prices handy for your sales assistant.
- Have a till or cash tin and keep it secure
- Provide credit card processing facilities if you can. People are more likely to impulse buy if they can whack it in their credit card. If you are serious about this business then you should arrange a merchant account with a bank so you can process credit cards.
- Be prepared to provide shipping and packaging costs. Some people will not buy unless they know these things up front. Your freight company should be able to provide a table. Estimate packaging weight and size for each artwork before the exhibition so you can quote quickly.
- When someone seems interested in buying, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. “Would you like to take this artwork home with you tonight?”
- If a person wants to negotiate, state your price with confidence and then shut up! Let the buyer make the next move and then lead the sale to a conclusion. “How would you like to pay for that?”
Things Not to Do
- Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take to hang your exhibition.
- Don’t be a diva. If things aren’t going right, negotiate gently. Just because many legendary artists were quite temperamental doesn’t mean you have to be.
- In your speech, if you stuff up and miss some important things you wanted to say don’t let everyone know by fluffing around. Nobody knows what you are about to say other than you and any stuff ups you make will probably go unnoticed anyway.
- Don’t get drunk. It’s easy to do as you will be running on adrenalin and people will keep serving you drinks as you are the most important person there.
- Don’t ignore people or be shy. It’s your party. People want to know and meet you.
- Don’t get caught up talking to one person. You need to circulate. Pay special attention to potential buyers and VIP’s though.
- Don’t get depressed if people are not buying your artworks on the night. People sometimes have to think about an expensive purchase. Follow up any leads after the show.
- Don’t make artworks that can only be sold as a set. People are picky and will often just want one.
- Don’t fluff around when people ask you the price of an artwork. Know your prices. State them clearly with conviction. Your confidence will tell the potential buyer that your artwork is worth what you are asking.
- Don’t forget to thank everyone who was personally involved in helping to put on your show.
Hanging the exhibit
- Measure the exhibition space and plan how you will hang you artworks.
- Does the space need to have a theme or decorating in some way to give it extra pizzazz?
- Make sure you have hanging equipment suitable for the space you will be displaying in. You may need to investigate the space closely to figure out how you will hang the works if it’s not a gallery with built in rails.
- In some spaces without obvious wall hanging opportunities you may have to hire in stands from an exhibition hire company.
- When you deliver your artworks to the venue, lean them against the wall directly underneath where you will be hanging them, so you can get a feel for the layout and your hanging assistants will get a better idea of what they are doing.
During the Run of the Show
- Document with video or digital images early, in case you need to re-shoot the images.
- Connect with your fans.
- Make any appointments with curators or writers at the venue.
- Have fun!
Recording the Event
- Arrange a photographer
- Arrange a video camera operator
- Contact press photographers and ask them to come along
After the Show
After the exhibition comes the pulling down. Be careful with this process, so you don’t damage the works. This is especially pertinent if you are handling a sold work. Clean and vacuum the gallery and return the keys to the owners once you are done.
Send thank you notes to everyone who volunteered.