If you have exhibiting your art on your list of goals (as you should), you’re probably overwhelmed.
First, there’s the research into potential venues. As soon as you begin the process (and it is a process), you will uncover venues you never knew existed if you live in a metropolitan area. One leads to another which leads to another…
Which brings up the second phase of overwhelm. Once you have this list of possible spaces, how do you determine which ones might be good choices for you?
What makes a venue attractive for an exhibition of your art? Let’s look at the pluses and minuses of potential venues using the checklists below.
It’s surely too much to ask that one venue might meet all the criteria for being a desirable location. You will have to weigh the positive and negative of each space. What can you live with?
On The Plus Side
The favorable aspects of a particular venue might be that it:
Yeah, I know you’d rather be in the studio.
Yeah, I know it’s super cheap and easy to show your art online.
Yeah, I know it’s a slog to find a good exhibition space.
And, yeah, I know that if you’re physically and geographically able to show your art in public and you’re not doing so, you’re just making excuses. Not only that, you’re also:
- Missing out on sales and networking opportunities.
- Taking the easy way out.
- Working your way to a less-than-stellar art career.
Exhibiting your art in live venues should be one of your primary goals. Book a show now!
Let’s Define “Exhibition”
For our purposes, an exhibition is simply your art on public view. It could be any of the following:
I’ve been reading Delivering Happiness by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. I highly recommend it as an inspirational story about sacrifice, drive, perseverance, and personal mission.
One of the things Hsieh stresses repeatedly is how much more interested he is in experiences than in acquiring things. It’s no wonder that Zappos has become known for its superior customer service.
This got me to thinking about how artists and arts organizations treat their guests at openings. Here’s what I came up with.
Artist Karen McLain addresses a standing-room only and overflow crowd at the fundraiser for The Cloud Foundation, which she worked on for over a year.
When you host an opening and invite people, you are the host.
The people who attend, whether they pay or not, are your guests. They have gone out of their way to show up
A retrospective is an exhibition that shows off the entire oeuvre of an artist’s career. Typically arranged chronologically and later in an artist’s life, retrospectives treat art viewers to the progression of the work in a single space.
I try to visit as many retrospectives as I can for artists I admire, which sometimes involves traveling and going out of my way as necessary. You never know when they will happen again since it’s difficult to borrow or gather the work in one place.
Retrospectives aren’t just for viewers. They provide an excellent opportunity for artists to examine their accomplishments.
Even without an art venue for your retrospective, you can take stock of your life’s work by creating a virtual retrospective.
Virginia Folkestad discovers insights into her life’s work by using a visual timeline.
I was delighted to come
I’m throwing you a curve ball . . . a Deep Thought on a Monday. Who knows where this unorthodox behavior might lead? When you loan images directly to a workplace, are you decorating it?
Attention arts councils, arts organizations, and anyone else serving local artists . . . Here’s a plea to put together a resource guide and member directory like the one I received from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC). In addition to the staff and member directory, the OVAC publication includes local and national resources to help artists build their businesses, enter exhibits, apply for funding, or join a local artist organization. (Thanks, OVAC, for including Art Biz Coach!)
Deep Thought Thursday: When looking to do business with someone – be it a venue, consultant, or collector – how do you know to trust? What is your criteria for trust? What has to happen in order for you to trust someone? What kinds of questions do they have to respond to?
There are plenty of people who are willing to help you promote your art, but don’t expect them to know where to begin.
If you’re one of the many artists who are showing in non-art venues like restaurants, coffee shops, and bank lobbies, you might be resigned to the fact that these venues can be challenging for sales.
But if you’re an art ninja, you will never tell yourself such a story. You must believe that any venue is the best venue for you at the moment.
Vow to make the most of your opportunities by going the extra mile to enlist others to promote your work for you – wherever you’re showing your art.
©2011 Howard Cowdrick, Oneness #2. Mixed media, 14 x 11 inches.
Scratch the back of the person in charge. Your contact at a venue
If you have a space that is open to the public, do they know they’re invited? Check out this photo and you’ll understand why I just had to walk up the stairs to the gallery.
Art doesn’t go from studio to museum overnight. Nor is art by beginners usually ready for fine galleries. So what are your options when you’re just starting out? It can be daunting to take the first steps to selling your art. You want to grow, but you also know you need to just get your feet wet. Think about these starting points.