Preparing for an art exhibition can be overwhelming. Exhibitions are the stepping stones of an artist’s career. They are a great way to display your art pieces to a wider audience, to reach out to potential buyers and get acquainted with industry experts.
But, a successful opening night does entail unavoidable hard work and planning. It isn’t as scary as it sounds if you execute it with care. I haven’t signed up for representation at an art gallery yet. But, I did showcase my work to a few individuals early this year.
It all kicked off with an old acquaintance stumbling upon my work on Instagram. It felt very surreal at first but it all started to sink in when the date started nearing.
Here is everything you need to know and do to prepare yourself for a showcase.
Curating the art
The display I arranged was a precursor to a bigger display in the future. Hence, I didn’t feel the need to omit any of my artworks at the time. But, it is of utmost importance to let go off the temptation to display everything. Consider factors such as pricing and bodies of work for an exhibition. This may include size variation and original artwork or prints, if applicable.
Working with a gallery has its own advantages. If that is the case, you should get advice from an art curator to organise your artworks in a cohesive manner.
This did not apply for me. So, I decided to choose the collection on the basis of concept and consistency. I chose pieces that would look good together. Finalising a layout is a very important step. There are plenty of resources on Pinterest to help with that.
Photograph your work
Keep high resolution images of your artwork. It comes in handy for marketing purposes or handing out a catalog to your audience. And bonus points when you make a sale… to already have archived images of your original artwork!
Make sure the work you are displaying is perfect. Inspect everything. Double check for varnishing the pieces and painting edges of the artworks. (Varnish needs at least 3 weeks to dry so make sure you do so well in advance!)
Remember, printing out name labels for the artworks is important and non-negligible. Make the font readable, elegant and print them on good quality paper.
You also need to have all the pieces ready for sale. One way to stay on top of things is to have the Certificate of Authenticity handy for all the artworks.
For my private viewing, I used cue cards to receive feedback from my audience. It was a great way to archive the testimonials.
Framing and packaging
Only an artist knows what’s best for their art. Keep a frame ready so that your audience can have a look at the final product and place orders. The same applies for when you showcase your art in a gallery.
The packaging materials should be handy on the day of the exhibition. Make sure to get everything well before the deadline.
Prepare your statement
Articulating your thoughts well is key. It is crucial to have your personal information handy for press releases. Make sure your artist statement is coherent with the curated pieces for the exhibit.
Choose the right outfit
It may seem insignificant but choosing the right outfit is important. It helps set a tone for your audience and your career path. So pick an outfit which is both comfortable and also makes you feel confident.
Personally, I feel that monotone outfits are perfect as they compliment the artwork.
Food & Beverage
If it's an independent show, it is important to arrange for food and beverage.
Moreover, choosing the right music helps setting the right mood.
You can find my playlist here.
Last but not the least, know your art’s significance
Sometimes it's difficult to put your thought process in words at the time as it gets overwhelming. It helps talking about your art with someone you trust to be prepared for the opening night.
Art is very subjective. Celebrate the positive feedback and embrace the criticism. Learn from the process - it will help you in the long run!
It was an accomplishment to have an exhibition. And selling my artwork was a pleasant bi-product. It was immensely enjoyable for me! Unfortunately, COVID-19 has led to indefinite cancellations… but I am hopeful to have the next exhibit soon!
Remember, it isn’t necessary to exhibit in a gallery. There are plenty of places to showcase your work such as a cafe, a restaurant or from your own studio! More on that later!
Till then, stay safe!
Psst.. Special thanks to my family for helping me set up and everyone who attended it! :)
Do you have any opening night stories you might wanna share? Write to me or get in touch onInstagram!
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