As photographers, getting accepted into an art exhibition is super exciting but also somewhat overwhelming. Here are 13 important things on how to prepare for an art exhibition successfully.
Whether it’s planning your first art exhibition or being a part of a group exhibition, you will need to know various details about the process of creating an exhibition from scratch.
How To Prepare For An Art Exhibition
This might be an obvious one, and depending if you’ve been selected through a representative gallery or just applied as a solo artist, the location of course, determines everything else you’re going to plan.
Most probably when you’re preparing for an art exhibition, you’ve thought about the galleries and museums and how they align with the art you want to exhibit.
If the location is a known gallery, your marketing plan might be totally different.
Find various spaces that exhibit your type of work and find out what are the costs for the period of time you are interested in having your exhibition shown for.
2. Date of your exhibition
This is tightly connected to the previous step – galleries might either have specific time periods they will offer you or let you choose from multiple options.
If you are searching for separate space that needs to be renovated for an exhibition, think about areas that have intriguing events and might offer space renting. Usually exhibition periods are from 2 weeks to a month. In bigger solo installations it might even last for 2-3 months.
Take into notice that the space will cover your needs; if it has not previously been used for art exhibitions, there might be a chance that you will not be able to do the modifications you’d like. Check this beforehand.
3. Know your audience
Before signing-up for any type of art exhibit, you must know who is your audience the exhibition is directed to. At this stage you should know the credibility of the organizer, and their ability to drive art buyers, if you are actually able to sell your artwork during the exhibition.
By knowing more who your audience is, you can better know how to exhibit your works in the exhibition space.
4. Choose your artworks
You can either show a compilation of your best works, or you can choose a specific series to exhibit. This of course, will depend whether your exhibition is your first art exhibition as a solo artist or a group exhibition. In group exhibitions there is usually a collective theme artists are selected for.
Only select artwork that is representative of who you are / what you’re making now. The organisers may have already selected some pieces, and this will give you a better idea of the other work you could include.
When preparing for an art exhibition, find out if the exhibition is non-commercial – the focus will really be in just showcasing your talent, so your selection can be more intuitive than if you’d be trying to sell your works.
5. Decide where to print and frame the artwork
With a clear plan on which artworks you’ll be exhibiting, you can now decide how you will print and mount your works. Some artists do this by hand, which might tighten the building-up schedule, unless you’ve done this prior to the build-up week.
If you are going to buy your prints and frames from an outside company, be clear with the delivery dates and how they will be shipped to your exhibition space, or if you have to pick them up from a separate location yourself.
This might take more time than expected, especially if you need to get a proper sized van for your works.
6. Building the installation
Once you know what space you will be exhibiting your works in, make sure you have the right measurements so you can draw some kind of an exhibition plan for the walls and space that will be provided for you. To plan in advance how to exhibit your art, will make it easier to execute.
Make sure you know if you can drill onto your wall or if you can paint it – which you usually want to do – after previous artists there might be stains or other remains.
Try out different sequencing and move your works around to better see what works for the space you are in.
The tools you will need for building an exhibition
- Paint and brushes-Ladder
- A drill and some screws
- Filler to even out the wall
- A measuring tape
- Laser to straighten your lines (or a spirit level)
Really make a step-by-step plan on what you’re going to build on which days. This outline will help you to determine your schedule more and take overwhelm out of the building phase.
7. Price your artwork
When pricing your work for the exhibition, remember to price your art fairly and consider the commissions that will most likely be included.
Some art venues add prices and sizes of the art pieces in a catalogue, where visitors can then search them up whether the works speak to them. Usually this information will need to be delivered for the organizer separately, or at least have it ready once they’ll ask for it.
8. Transportation of your artworks
This will either be decided once you order your art pieces from the framing company, unless you’ve already done it and only need to transport them to the venue.
Make sure you know what time you’re meant to be there and find out if you’re required to stick around throughout the installation.
It doesn’t matter whether the venue is near or far from your place, you need to pack each artwork properly to avoid any damage during transportation.
It would also be better if you transport your artworks to the venue earlier so that you or the gallery will have enough time to fix the artworks if something happens.
9. Write your bio
If you have not done this before, this is definitely the time to write your artist bio. Some exhibitions also require you to write your press release and artist statement, so having these all ready for your body of work will help you manage them effortlessly once you’ll need them.
The difference of an artist bio and artist statement is that the bio is a shorter version of you as an artist, which can be added when your works are published on different platforms.
The artist statement is a longer description of your methodology and the themes you work with.
10. Document your artworks
We tend to think that once the artworks are up on and mounted, we can start focusing on other things.
But you should remember to document your installation space and your works. You will need them in the future once you’ll be applying for grants and other exhibitions.
Make sure once you document your works, show the space more broadly and also take close-up images of your work.
If you are using special lighting for your space, make sure it is visible in the documentation. You can also document it as a short video, to see how visitors move in the space.
11. Update your online platforms
Updating your social media and online portfolios should be done biannually, but since it’s not always done, it’s good to do prior to your exhibition. Adding the event to your social media and posting some images of your build-up is surely going to interest people who are fans of your work.
Go through your social media and see if any of the posts you’ve done could be archived or removed – to make it more coherent for new followers and interested audience who will inevitably find your work through the exhibition. The information on your website should also be up to date.
12. Create a marketing plan
Artists are known for not being the best marketers, but when having this opportunity to show your work and grow your audience and possible client prospects, it shouldn’t be missed.
But marketing doesn’t have to be as an enormous task as it is set out to be. It can look something like; posting sneak-peeks of your build-up couple of weeks before the opening, adding relevant introduction to what you’re working on now and with who. Bringing your platform alive with your build-up and letting people know they’ll be invited to the event.
If you are already familiar with sending newsletters, this event can definitely be added and sent out to your email list.
You can also independently contact platforms who are interested in art events and would be happy to publish some information on yours.
13. Be ready to pitch your work
Many artists can create art, but fever can write about it. Only a handful of artists are prepared to pitch their work if a prosperous client or platform reaches out.
If you’ve only been writing about your work but never discussed it with your audience or your peers in real life, you might not be prepared to discuss it once the build-up pressure has lifted.
Exhibition openings are great opportunities to meet new people and interesting clients, but you will need to know what you are selling them.
Prepare to explain your work in couple of sentences in the opening – it will not do you harm in knowing your work more deeply and being able to communicate it clearly.
We hope you know now how to prepare for an art exhibition and can plan and build a successful one yourself.
You can download you free Exhibition Checklist here, so you’ll remember everything you need to take care of.
The images are from our exhibition build-up. You can find more about it on our website. It is up from 30th of January to 13th of February 2022.
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