Congratulations! You’ve landed your first art exhibition! While exhibiting in a gallery may feel like a daunting task, it’s an essential step in your growth as a professional artist. Now that you’re going to be presenting your work in a gallery, you’ll want to know how to set up an art exhibition. Exhibitions offer a fantastic opportunity for artists to get exposure and connect with a network of collectors.
Before you start preparing your first art show, it’s a good idea to consider your audience. Who do you want to reach, and what will make this a successful exhibition? To help you get the most out of your exhibition, we’re walking through the best ways to prepare for an upcoming art exhibition.
Prepare your artworks
If you are wondering how to put on an art show, the first place to start is with your artwork. As tempting as it may seem to display all of your work, this is not always the best approach for your first art exhibition.
Instead, try to select artworks that show the best representative of who you are and what your art is about. Then, create a cohesive theme with works displaying a specific artistic concept or colour or medium. Remember, the artworks you choose will represent you as an artist to your collectors, so choose your pieces wisely.
Print like a Pro
If you’re printing your artwork, you won’t want to rely on your desktop printer. Professional artists and galleries favour two styles of printing: C-type and Giclée. C-type printing was initially introduced for colour photography and large-scale prints. C-type printing, or Chromagenic Type, prints work by exposing a specialised silver halide paper to light to create smooth, tonal colour images.
Giclée printing, named after the word French word for spray, are created using tiny droplets of pigment-based ink that build colour on archival paper. Known for their striking, bold colours and longevity, giclee prints are a fantastic printing option that creates stunning results.
To get the best quality prints, you need to start with high-resolution images. Most professional printers recommend that exhibition-quality art prints have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi to give images proper depth and sharpness. High-resolution images are also easier to scale for large formats.
Frame for Display
Framing and mounting is vital element of preparing your artwork for your first exhibition. A well-chosen frame will complement the work within, adding to the aesthetic value of the piece. When selecting a frame, look for one sympathetic with the subject. Bespoke made to measure frames offers a vast variety of styles to ensure the frame you choose perfectly complements the image.
Professional art mounting is a fantastic alternative if traditional framing isn’t your thing. Your mounted print will remain rigid and flat by adding a hard substrate to your artwork. Mounted works can be hung directly on the gallery wall without a frame. If you’re looking for a bold way to display your artwork, professional mounting is a fantastic way to display your work.
Document your Artworks
Taking high-quality photographs of your work isn’t just vital for organisational purposes. Photographs are a fantastic way to promote your artwork and your upcoming exhibition. Try experimenting with a wide range of shots. For example, hang or lean your works against a wall, or take close-up photos to capture your work’s details. These images are great for promotional material, social media shoots, catalogue images and may even be beneficial for insurance if any unforeseen events occur during your exhibition.
Create a Press Pack
A press pack and standout press releases are essential for getting your exhibition noticed. Even if writing isn’t your best quality, it’s crucial to use your press release to get people interested in your event. If you’re having trouble, try asking yourself, “Would I read this?” as you write. The press release is the first taste the public has of your exhibition, so you want them to be intrigued.
You’ll want to include details about you, the artist, what makes your exhibition is unique and what visitors can expect. Make sure to open with an eye-grabbing headline that will keep readers engaged. Don’t forget to lay out all the key information about the event, such as the dates and location, whether private viewings are available, and contact details for the gallery hosting your event.
Label and price your work
Organisation is key for any event. You’ll want to keep on top of all of your artworks, so make sure to label all of your artwork properly. Many artists will write their name, and the year the work was created on the back of their art. Alternatively, you can apply a secure label to the back of your artwork that contains the same information.
Most galleries will create an inventory card for each artwork that notes the artist’s name, title, size, and medium, as well as an image of the piece. This is a key step that many artists forget, leading to confusion for collectors and curators alike.
Pricing your artwork can be intimidating. For a baseline, it’s best to start with the time you spent creating your work and the cost of materials used to create it. Many galleries will ask for a catalogue or price sheet for your artworks prior to agreeing to the exhibition. To stay on top of your organisation, it may be a good idea to make a digital catalogue, spreadsheet or word document with images, prices, and other relevant details, so you’re prepared if curators ask for it.
Make sure people know
It’s not an exhibition unless people see your artwork! So it’s vital to use your network of friends, collectors, colleagues, and social followers to build hype around your exhibition. Social media is a powerful tool that you can harness to gain more exposure gen get more people interested in your show.
Try using Instagram’s ‘Stories’ to give a behind the scenes tour of the exhibition. Social media also allows you to interact with your followers and potential collectors. Instagram or Facebook Ads can extend your viewership and attract new followers interested in your art.
Don’t discount your network of real-world acquaintances as well. Word of mouth and artist communities provide shared spaces to promote art. If you approach these groups directly about your exhibition, some may offer to help promote your show by featuring it in their newsletter, mailing list or letting you display promotional materials.