Tibi Hegyesi asked on my Facebook page: Is it a good idea to post online previews of artwork that will be included in an upcoming show, or is it better to keep the work under wraps until the big reveal?
I don’t think you can lose by sharing the work in advance, unless the exhibition organizers prohibit this. (Read the details of your agreement!) People rarely go out of their way to view the unknown. We need a reason to get dressed and make the trip. Seeing artwork that we connect with is the best way to motivate us to come to your exhibit.
But you don’t have to reveal all of the work in a show at once. Nor do you have to reveal it to everyone.
Every little bit you share is a gift of yourself. If you frame it correctly, you can show your fans how much you value them.
Tease + One a Day
In I’d Rather Be in the Studio, I share the story of artist Margret Short, who started blogging to help promote a seminal exhibit. She gave her blog readers a sneak peek at a single detail of her paintings as she completed them: a piece of lace or an object in a still life. It was a tease to get people interested in seeing more.
In the two weeks before the opening, Margret posted the full image of each painting that would be included in the exhibit – one day at a time. To my knowledge, the images were never posted as a group on a single page.
You could follow Margret’s example, or you could choose to share only details with blog readers and save the completed works with collectors only.
You can create a private Web page for your collectors as a reward for their loyalty. Let them know that they are the only ones who have access to the page, and that they alone can view all of the work that will be installed in the exhibit.
Lisa Call has tried this. She said she sold one piece from the preview, which makes it worth the effort to do it again for an upcoming exhibit.
No collectors yet? You could also offer a private Web page for newsletter subscribers only. Announce on social media:
My newsletter subscribers are getting a behind-the-scenes look at the works that will be on view next month at X gallery. Sign up now to get the secret URL.
Go ahead and spoil the surprise! Have fun sharing your art in advance of an exhibit, and remember that it’s a gift of yourself.
Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts about pre-show posting.