Using Invitations To Elevate The Cachet of Your Exhibition


Every contact you have with someone is an opportunity to wow them with your art and your professionalism, so you don’t want to miss the chance to wow from the beginning.

Robert Mapplethorpe knew this. For his first solo exhibition in 1973 at New York’s Light Gallery – a show of Polaroids – Mapplethorpe’s invitation was a hand-printed image from a Polaroid original.

He embossed his name on the outer edge, included the protective Polaroid cover, and inserted everything into hand-addressed, cream-colored Tiffany envelopes.

His invitation was a work of art in itself because, he believed, an exhibition doesn’t begin when you go to the opening, but when you receive the invitation.

An art exhibition begins when your guests receive the invitation.

The moment people hear about the show, they start judging. Will it be any good? Who else will show up? Is it worth my time? Is there something better I could do that night?

What experience do people have when they get an invitation from you?

Here are 7 ways to use your invitation to elevate the cachet of your exhibition.

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How to Promote Your Art Exhibition on Your Website

©Donna Iona Drozda, Clear Cut 1. Mixed media on board, 12 x 12 inches. Used with permission.

If you have an important exhibition coming up, give it the space it deserves. Create a special page on your website just for your show.

You probably already have a page for all of your exhibitions, but I’m talking about a single page that features only your special show.

This will be the premier place you send people for details about your special show.

Why would you only share this info on Facebook or in an email when you can create a storefront for your art? You’re paying for the virtual real estate already. Might as well use it!

Everything will be in one spot rather than scattered around online or in someone’s inbox.

The URL (website address) should be one that’s easy to share and to remember rather than a string of slashes and numbers. This isn’t always as easy if you have a template site, but make it happen if possible.

Here’s what your exhibition page should include:

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Art Exhibition Checklist and Timeline to Customize

Exhibition Checklist

A checklist can keep you on task for your exhibition.

The tasks on your checklist, and the deadlines you give them, will depend on the following:

– The type of exhibition (juried, self-curated, open studio)
– If the venue is in charge of sales and refreshments or if that’s up to you
– Whether you’re showing with other artists
– How much time you have to plan

Do It Now

Set a goal. What would you like to have happen at this exhibition or as a result of it?

Plan your budget. How much can you afford to spend on materials and framing? How much can you allocate to promotions, printing, and a reception?

Identify a theme and

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Make a Roadmap for Success

Road Map and Toy Car

If you have a big event or art exhibition coming up, don’t wing it. Create a promotional plan for peace of mind. 1. Define the individual tasks – make each one as specific as possible. They should require just one step to complete. David Allen calls them next actions.

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8 Websites to Consider When Promoting Art Events

Publicity expert Joan Stewart says artists should be using location-based, high-traffic sites that accept calendar listings, press releases, articles and photos. Add to the mix much smaller niche sites that help you target people who are passionate about things like pet paintings, beaded purses, clothing art and metal sculptures.

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Start Promoting Your Exhibition Now, Part 3: Execute Your Plan

Without execution, you just have a bunch of good ideas. The trick is taking those ideas and turning them into real commitments–commitments you know will boost your visibility and reputation, which will get you closer to your goals. Start by taking the list you came up with last week. Go through each item and set a deadline for completion of that task. You might even need to break it down into smaller baby steps and attach deadlines to each baby step.

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Start Promoting Your Exhibition Now, Part 2: Break Down Tasks

Now it’s time to make a list of everything you’d like to do to promote your exhibition. As you’re making this task list, keep your audience in mind. Who needs to know you’re having an exhibition? Whom would you like to show up at your opening? What magazines or newspapers should cover it?

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Start Promoting Your Exhibition Now, Part 1: Describe It

Artists often write to me just as they’re ramping up their promotional efforts a month or two out from their exhibition opening or special event. They’re looking for help. I can help, but they’ve really waited too long. If you know you have an event, exhibition, class, gallery talk, or workshop coming up, don’t put off your marketing. Start your promotions right now.

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