Exhibiting Your Art

Have you been creating a lot of art lately? Well how about showing it to the world now! One of the best ways to do so is by showcasing your work in art exhibitions as these are the stepping stones of every artist’s career growth. Whether professional or amateur, every artist should take part in art exhibitions. Not only are they a great platform to showcase your work and reach out to potential buyers, but also a means of getting recognition among like-minded artists, peers, patrons and industry experts, thus making some valuable new acquaintances.

However, many people are apprehensive about entering art exhibitions usually due to lack of confidence. But let me assure you, there are exhibitions for all skill levels.

If you are just starting out as an artist you may not want to enter the large scale national portrait exhibitions, but there is no reason you should not enter your local exhibitions which cater to budding and emerging artists like you!

Getting selected by an art gallery means a lot of work needs to be done before you can proudly flaunt your art. This article will hopefully not just inspire you to enter art exhibitions but also help you understand what exactly is involved. So let’s get right into it!

Why should you enter art exhibitions?

  • If you are interested in selling your art, this is how you expose it to people who are interested in buying art and have a sizable budget.
  • You get to meet other artists and art patrons. Some of the artists you meet may become your inspiration in future.
  • You are forced to put your best foot forward with your work. If you are finding yourself producing mediocre work, then signing up to art exhibitions may motivate you to put in your best.
  • You will stop procrastinating in order to meet exhibition deadlines.
  • The chance to win awards can really boost your art career.

What are your options for exhibiting?

The following are the various options available to put your art on display:

  • Solo shows – Whether physical or online, putting on a solo show will give you full control over everything. On the flipside, it will cost you that much more. One alternative to this is to have a show in collaboration with other artists. In case you decide to go in for a solo show, ensure you have enough work to display, not just in terms of quantities, but also a well-curated range.
  • Commercial gallery – Working with galleries can be a daunting task but the advantages include publicity, help with installation costs, and potential future exhibitions. Galleries often present open calls for exhibitions or representation. While these are great opportunities to get your work seen, they can also turn out to be costly so it’s best to avoid applying to every single opportunity, especially if it involves a submission fee. So take only those openings into serious consideration that are relevant to you. Group shows, craft fairs etc. Another way to give exposure to your art is to participate in craft fairs or group shows.
  • Group shows – These can be a great option if you feel you only have a small selection of works to exhibit. The other benefit is that you’ll be able to divide tasks among a group of people so that there are fewer burdens on one individual.  Being part of a group can also widen your network. However, a downside of group shows can be disagreements, especially on the decision making level, if the participants don’t see eye to eye or don’t share similar artistic interests. So make sure you work with like-minded artists whose work can be linked to yours. When it comes to a group exhibit, uniformity is the key.

How much will it cost?

Whether putting up a solo or a group show, it’s a good idea to work out a budget plan. The following aspects need to be taken into consideration:

  • Hiring of exhibit space.
  • Entertaining costs (drinks, eats, etc.)
  • Advertising.
  • Transportation costs.
  • Marketing (posters, flyers, website, etc.)
  • Installation costs.
  • Printing (CVs, press releases, artist statements, business cards, etc.)

Some of these costs can be taken care of if you can manage to get your show sponsored by local companies, etc.

How do you advertise your show?

Spreading the word about your upcoming show is as important as the show itself. Here are a few ways to advertise your exhibition:

  • Social media forums like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or even your own blog are a great way to get the word out.
  • Try and get your event listed on popular art events sites.
  • Send “save the date” emails to your mailing list well before the exhibition and then another reminder mail a couple of days before the event.
  • Flyers and posters are a great advertising tool in local area locations like cafes, community centers, etc.
  • Last but not the least, word of mouth. Nothing better than coming straight from the horse’s mouth!

What is the standard procedure to enter an art exhibition?

  • There will be a call to entry providing the set of requirements for the exhibition and the deadlines.
  • You will be asked to submit your most recent artworks, (usually, ones that have been completed within a year of the exhibition).
  • The finalists will be announced on a preset date.
  • If selected as a finalist, you will need to prepare your artworks for the exhibition and deliver them to the exhibition within the provided time frame.
  • There will be an opening night which you can choose to attend. Although you are not required to attend the exhibition in person, but it is recommended you do so.
  • Any sales of your artworks will be handled by the exhibition and you will receive your sale proceeds (minus a commission taken by the organizer).
  • If your artworks do not sell, then you will need to collect them at a certain time and place.

Preparing Your Art for the Exhibition

Selecting an art gallery and confirming an art exhibit is only the first step of a much longer process. Although there are a lot of things that the art gallery handles for you, your personal involvement is of utmost importance as you know your art the best, hence you need to be a part of every decision that is being made about it. Here’s what all you need to look at:

  • Select pieces that are consistent in either concept or themeand bring out your signature style and ideas the best.
  • Click high quality images of these for promotional purposes like catalogues, prints, etc.
  • Pay special attention to giving final touch ups if required by any of your artworks before displaying as well as the framing if the gallery demands so.
  • Another important aspect is the Certificate of Authenticity, which is required for sales.
  • If you are not framing your artworks, you will need to consider how you will display them. In case of stretched canvases, a common practice is to extend the painting over the edges to give it a feeling of continuity. Or you could just paint the edges a flat white or black.
  • Decide how you want your artworks to be hanged.
  • Varnish your artworks if you feel the need, although this is not a mandatory requirement.

Transportation

Ensure your pieces are packed securely to prevent damage during transportation. Dispatch them well in time so that in case of any damage, the gallery will have enough time to repair them.

Preparing your Personal Information

You will need to provide the following details along with your artworks:

  • Personal details.
  • Artist statement and artist profile/CV.
  • Prices of the artworks.
  • Names, medium and dimensions of the artworks.

Your artist statement and artist CV will need to be sent to the gallery for publishing in their catalogues or to be displayed along with your works. Update your CV with all your latest accomplishments. Make sure that your artist statement goes well with the selected works.

Being part of an art exhibition is not just about selling art. It is also a great opportunity to see your work through the eyes of your viewers. However, art is very subjective so be prepared to receive all sorts of opinions, some positive and others negative. The trick is to take the criticism positively and learn from it. This will help you evolve and grow as an artist. Your artistic talent does not need the validation of sales.

I hope this post provides you a better insight into what is involved in entering art exhibitions and inspires you to do so yourself. Please feel free to share any thoughts or tips of your own in the comment section below.

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