Planning an art show takes much preparation. There are a lot of things to consider, from packaging the artwork for transport to deciding the correct placement in the exhibition space.
In this article, I detail all the things an artist should plan, for a successful art gallery showing.
Some of these may apply to “open house” exhibitions, and displays in public venues as well. Also, you may not hold the whole burden, since the curator is often responsible for some of this.
17 Tips for Planning an Art Show
- Set a time for the gallery event
Choose the date well in advance, so you will have plenty of time to prepare for the art exhibition and promotions.
- Choose a theme and name for the exhibition
One of the first things that should be prepared is a theme and name. Look at all the artworks which you plan on exhibiting. What do they have in common? Is there a particular piece that stands out? The name should make sense to the underlying theme of the collection as a cohesive unit. Try to choose one that will incite curiosity.
- Experience the space prior to the show
Spend some time at the art gallery beforehand and plan hanging arrangements. Bring along your sketchbook and design an overall layout. Take an overall measurement of the space, and draw your plan to scale. Walk around the gallery and try to imagine where certain pieces should hang. For sculpture, decide where pieces should be placed for optimal lighting and interaction. Ask the gallery owner or curator about hanging and listen to their suggestions.
- Photograph Art
Photograph all your artworks, and ensure you have the best quality digital copies saved and also backed up on disk. Once they are sold, you may never have the opportunity to photograph them, so be sure to complete this important task well in advance.
- Pricing and Selling Art
Check out our pricing tips. Have all prices set and recorded.
Cheaper artworks: Try to have some cheaper priced artworks for those who cannot purchase the expensive pieces.
Red Stickers: Some artists like to place red stickers on sold artworks, and even include pieces already sold in the exhibition.
Receipt Book: Bring along a receipt book for artworks that are purchased at the show.
- Frame Art
Frame all artworks that require framing and include matting if necessary. Hire a professional to do this job, unless you possess the skill. Stay away from cheap frames!
- Paint or finish sides of canvases
These are the options:
- Paint the sides one single color, such as black, or something that matches the painting.
- Continue the artwork on the sides of the painting.
- Include a wooden frame surrounding the canvas.
Have proper fasteners attached to the back of hanged pieces. Ensure they are securely fastened and aligned.
- Certificates of Authenticity
Many artists today like to include a rubber stamped certificate along with each of the artworks. This declares that the piece is original and one of a kind.
- Packaging Art
Package the artwork very well. For paintings that are shipped, I like to wrap them in foam or bubble wrap. I place it in a large sturdy box along with foam peanuts, ensuring all edges are protected. Of course, if you live close to a gallery,especially within walking distance, this step may be skipped. But, packaging materials may be needed anyway for art buyers who desire their artworks shipped.
- Name labels for artworks
Create label cards to be included alongside the artworks. These include name, size, medium, and price.
- Art cards or post cards
Many people love to collect artist postcards. These may be given away or sold in sets at the show. Greeting cards may also be considered, as Fine Art America offers this item.
- Business cards
Pass these out to art buyers, and people who show an interest in your art. Include your name, phone number, address, email, and artist website.
- Start a mailing list
Maybe use your website email, or open a new Gmail account. Transfer all the collected addresses to your address book.
When sending messages to a group, always make sure to use BCC, so that emails cannot be seen by others.
Only send them out for important announcements as well. When you build a large enough list, consider getting an autoresponder.
- About the Artist
Have an “About the Artist” statement (short artist statement) ready to hang in the exhibition.
- Plan the show, step by step, from beginning to end
Plan the curriculum of events during the show and let all those in charge know your plan. Have an MC and have a speech ready as well.
- Prepare finger foods and refreshments for the art show opening
If planning on having music, have someone in charge of it. These elements encourage a friendly atmosphere, where people may chat freely, give constructive criticism, and become more open to buying.
As you may well imagine, planning an art gallery show requires an incredible amount of planning and expense. But, you will find that the exhibition experience is well worth the time and monetary commitment.