So you have gathered the courage to put yourself out there and present your work at a local art show.
You have put in your application, paid any fees and spent the last month and half pumping out as many worthy pieces as you can. You are thinking to yourself, “Great! A chance to make some money from what I love doing!”
With excitement, also comes self-inflicted pressure and stress in preparation. You are putting yourself out there, alongside other talented artists, and suddenly the praises from your mom and friends just may not be enough to hold yourself together strong and confidently. It is important to feel prepared, but also see it as more than a way to generate some cash, or as a giant public panel of critics.
Below is what I have gained so far in participating in local art shows that have allowed me to have a fulfilling, valuable experience…
Keep an open mind. While you will start to develop a sense of what to do, and what not to do through your experiences, being a part of an art show also acts as an exercise in listening. I find that most of my inspiration is sparked by differences in peoples perception. Be aware of people’s reaction to your pieces, how they engage with you and your work. You will be surprised with what you come to learn and discover and you will want to channel that into your future work.
It is very obvious that participating in an art show allows you to expose your work to the public, but what it also does is present an opportunity to network with other artists. Not only is getting a view into their world, their journey valuable towards your development, but you are planting seeds for any future opportunities. Collaborations and collectives help feed the art community, and can contribute to how you shape as an artist. Plus, it’s always good to have like-minded people to chat to about your experience and journey.
I believe that art is provoked by inspiration. It is the world around us that allows us to channel our feelings, our views in a way only art can capture. Art shows are a great way to tell your story, share your views and connect with others. It’s not just through your work either! You showing up is a lot more inspiring that you may think. I have gotten so many people telling me how amazing it is that I am active towards my passion. It can be very fulfilling when you are aware of the different ways you can inspire other people. Being an emerging artist is a tough life, but its in those moments when you know you have inspired someone, sparked a thought or idea that you recognise the purpose of what you’re doing.
Learning About the Business of Art
When you are physically selling your work, you are forced to think and consider the art of selling art. Not the easiest, most straightforward process. In fact, it is an area I like many artists, continue to struggle with- “How much should I sell this piece for?” Many successful working artists simply state that your piece is worth as much as people are willing to spend on it. This is an opportunity for you to really have a think about how you set up your cost structure and get some context to the value of your work.
A Day Out
Prepping for a show can be stressful. While we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, the day of the event is an opportunity to step back, reflect on the great work you have done and enjoy the day!
Some Helpful Tips for Art Shows:
- If it’s an outdoor venue, invest in an EZ Up Tent. Purchase it in white as most organisers mandate this.
- Take pride in your display. You want to present yourself as a professional, allow your work to be visible and have the space be a reflection of you as an artist. If you can, invest in grid walls which can be found at retail supply shops or hardware stores. Alternatively, use various tables (different heights) with plastic easels (which can be purchased at Michaels or Hobby Lobby).
- Offer more than your art. Type up a bio and put it in a frame, allowing people to connect with you as an artist. It adds an extra layer of context to your work. If you offer custom work or free delivery make it known with signage. Finally, always have business cards with your contact information readily available.
- Talk to people. Tell them your story, ask them questions (“What brought you out today?” “What do you see in this piece?”) Engaging with others will allow you to get that feedback, and inspiration as mentioned above. It allows people to connect your work, with who you are (which is ultimately, one in the same!)
- Bring a friend (or two). You will appreciate the extra hands in set up and take-down. It’s also great to get another view on how the day went. Plus, it makes potty breaks a whole lot easier to manage!
- Promote your attendance. Post “sneak peaks” of the work you will be featuring not only on your social channels but also on the show’s pages. Leveraging their social network is an easy way to gain further exposure.
- Ask the event coordinator a lot of questions! During set up, things are going to be hectic for the organisers and it will be difficult getting anything out of them. Before the event, be sure you are clear on the sign-in process, parking, set-up times/rules. Read the application carefully and make sure you understand all the implications, if not- reach out and ask them in advance.
- Register for a credit card reader. Services like Square are easy to use, and will open up more opportunity for sales.
Art shows are a lot of fun and can offer great opportunities to enhance your growth as an artist. Remember, being an artist is an incredible journey, and its moments like this that can act as a milestone. Be sure to embrace it.
You can catch me at Houston Midtown’s Art in the Park this Saturday, April 12th. Click here for more details.
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