by Tanya Singh
So you have an exhibition coming up? That’s great! Are you prepared? This might seem like a very simple question, but there is so much more to it. Exhibitions are the stepping stones of any artist’s career. Not only are they a great way to showcase your works and reach out to potential buyers, but also a great platform to get recognition among peers and industry experts, and make new and interesting acquaintances.
However, just getting signed up for representation or being selected by an art gallery does not mean you can plop on a couch and just wait for the reception day to come. There is a lot more work to be done before you can proudly flaunt your art at your opening reception.
Having worked with artists from across the globe for over 30 years, Agora Gallery knows a little something about being fully prepared for an exhibition. It is not as intimidating as it sounds; however, it is very easy to get caught up in all that excitement and forget about some crucial aspects of exhibiting. And that is where we come in.
Here is everything you need to know and do to prepare yourself for an exhibition. We also have a complete checklist at the end of this article to help you through this process.
Preparing For Your Exhibition
In an article in ARTisSpectrum, Kristina Garon talks about her experience while exhibiting at Agora Gallery. In the article, she draws a comparison between an exhibiting artist and a farmer. “Like a farmer who carefully selects the soil in which he plants seeds”, says Kristina, “we artists attempt to place our artwork in the best location. The farmer understands that planting the seed in the right soil is only the first step, and he will not be able to harvest overnight.” Similarly, selecting an art gallery and confirming an art exhibit is only the first step of a much longer process. According to Kristina, there is no secret to success other than two words – Keep Going!
Although there are a lot of things that the art gallery is going to handle for you, your involvement will not only make the process easier but also provide you with an incredible experience. You know your art the best, which is exactly why you need to be a part of every decision that is being made about it.
Obviously, the most important aspect in all this is preparing the art. There are a number of things that you need to take care of before and after you transport it off to the gallery to be installed.
Choose The Perfect Pieces
If it is up to you to make the selections, you have to keep in mind that this collection of works is meant to exhibit your style and ideas. Choose works that are consistent in terms of style and go well together. Try to imagine them in the gallery space and make sure that the works you have chosen compliment each other and convey exactly what you want to the viewers.
Photograph Your Art
This is an important step. You should have good quality images of all of your artworks that you will be exhibiting. Most galleries make use of artist-provided images for online promotion as well as in other exhibition material like catalogues and press releases, so it’s imperative that the images are high quality. Also, once the artwork is sold, the image is all you will have for yourself.
Useful Article: How To Take Great Photos Of Your Artwork
Make The Artworks Exhibition Ready
- Final Touches – Inspect your works properly. Are there any final touches to be made? Check the edges to see whether they need painting.
- Framing – This depends on whether the gallery is taking care of the framing or you. If it is you, make sure that you choose the frames carefully. A frame is like an extension for your painting and when done right, it can really help to enhance the final look of your work. Even if the gallery is going to be handling the framing, you can always send in your suggestions for the kind of frame you would like. Like we said, only you know what’s best for your art.
- Documents – You need to also have all the artworks ready for sale. The Certificates Of Authenticity should be created. Sometimes, there might be some other official processes that need to be completed before hand like signing invoices or filling out important forms.
Make sure that the works are packed properly to avoid any damage to them during transportation. You should also make sure that you dispatch the works well ahead of the deadline. This way, even if the works get damaged a little bit, the gallery will have enough time to repair them.
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Once the art is on its way, it’s time for you to prepare yourself for the big day. Whether it’s your first exhibition or your hundredth one, what you’re telling the world through this public showcase is that you are a serious artist with work worth showing to the world. And that means you need to be fully equipped to play the part.
Prepare And Send Your Personal Information
As a practicing artist in today’s society, it is crucial for you to have all your information handy which includes your artist statement and artist CV. You will also need to send these to the gallery to be published in their catalogues or displayed along with your works. However, before sending the documents in, read through them thoroughly to check for any errors or changes you might have forgotten to make. Update your CV with all your latest accomplishments. Make sure that your artist statement goes well with the selected works.
Get A Great Outfit Ready
This might seem like a trivial thing in front of all the other crucial details mentioned here. However, it is as important for you to look good and be comfortable during your opening reception as is sending in all the correct information. Your dressing sense speaks a lot about you as well as your attitude towards your career. Choose a presentable outfit that makes the right statement and, at the same time, makes you feel confident.
Know Your Art By Heart
You obviously know everything about your works because you are the creator. However, sometimes it is difficult to put such things into words especially if you are too emotionally involved. It helps to practice talking about your art with a family member or a friend.
Be Ready For Criticism
An art exhibition is not just for selling works. It is also a great opportunity for you to display your works and view them from the eyes of others. Of course, art is very subjective and you are going to get all kinds of opinions. You should be prepared to listen to everything the others have to say, whether positive or negative, and to learn from all the criticism you receive. This habit will also help you a lot in your artistic process.
Useful Article: Make Art Criticism Work For You
Have A Positive Outlook
The most important thing is to enjoy the entire experience. Displaying your works in front of other people is a great accomplishment. No matter how the exhibition goes, you should always keep a positive outlook. Your talent does not need the validation of sales. Selling work is just a pleasant benefit of this learning experience.
According to Kristina, every artist remembers “the extraordinary experience of their opening reception for the rest of their lives”. Make sure you have all your affairs in order so that you can enjoy this day to the fullest. An exhibition in a gallery is an achievement, as is your own and others’ recognition of you as an artist. Think of the reception as a big, art-themed party which is open to anyone who loves art and can make it. Don’t forget that festive aspect, and have fun!
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Do you have any tips for artists on how best to approach an upcoming exhibition? Any reception night stories to share? Let us know!
Here is a complete checklist to help you through this process!
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Tanya Singh is a budding art historian and writer. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies at the LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. With a versatile portfolio, she has over three years of experience in writing as well as editing.