June 15, 2015
This upcoming weekend (June 20th), my work will be featured in a show at the FrameWorks gallery in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
A friend who happens to also run the gallery approached me and asked if I'd be interested in an Art show. Of course I said yes, because it's both humbling and incredibly fun to put your work out there and be able to talk with people who come to see it. I believe it's the norm for an Artist, especially a newer or unknown Artist, to approach the gallery and ask them if they can be in a show.
Below I'm going to share a few tips I've learned about doing shows. Although I've never had a strictly solo show, I've been in about about half a dozen multi-artist shows, so I'll share some of what I know and the tips that have been passed on to me by other Artists.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive guide, just some tips you might find interesting and helpful. If you're a veteran Artist with many shows, please feel free to correct anything or add your own tips in the comments.
Getting into a show - You can do this in several ways and each has it's challenges and opportunities.
- Most galleries have an application process, just ask.
- Check to see what the gallery specializes in. If they show only painters and you're a pencil Artist they might be less likely to show your work if you're unestablished.
- Check to see if they've shown newer or less established Artists. Some galleries are happy to show emerging Artists, other are not.
- Remember that a Gallery is trying to make money. If they know you have a following, they might be more likely to show your work. Show them you can bring people into the gallery and move your work.
- You can demonstrate this by sharing your Art Facebook page, Twitter followers, website visitors and even your sales info (have you sold any work in the past).
- It's also a good idea to join a local art group as they are often asked to have their own shows. I belong to several, including the Twin Cities MetroSketchers group and they just had a show this past winter that I was able to display a few pieces at.
Preparation for the show - Okay you landed a show, now what?
- You'll probably need to frame your work and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.
- Finding a good Framer and someone who understands your requirements can make a real difference to your work.
- You can pick up cheap frames from a lot of stores. I've even gone to thrift stores and picked up old frames which are often solid wood and better made than the cheap Chinese ones from Wal-Mart or even Michaels.
- Of course you can pay more to have your work professionally framed and that's a good idea, finding a good Framer and someone who understands your requirements can make a real difference to your work.
- What Art to display is also important. Try to put together a theme of your work.
- If you do landscapes, try to find the theme in them. If you sketch, put together sketches that represent your originality.
Pricing your Art - How much should you charge for your work?
- This is a question that most every Artist's will grapple with at sometime, but there's no need to be too worried about it.
- Figure out how long (in hours) it takes you to do a particular piece of art.
- Take into consideration you material costs - paint, canvas brushes. This is sort of an amortization process since you'll use paints and brushes over many works.
- Size of the work. The bigger the work, them more expensive everything will be.
- How much did it cost to frame your work? Yes you should build that in.
- The Gallery will take a cut. This will range from 40% to 60% depending on the gallery. So price your work accordingly.
- Here is an example of a 9 X 12 work:
- 10 hours X $25/hr = $250.00
- Frame/Mating = $100.00
- Materials - Paint, Brushes, Canvas = $25.00
- Total: $375.00
- The gallery will take a percentage (Remember this is a business): (50% average)
- Your net in this example would be just $187.50 if you sold a 9 X 12 for $375.00 and deducted your costs.
- Price your work so you actually pay for your time, materials, framing and make some small profit.
- There is a danger that you can over-price your work though and then none of your art sells, the gallery makes no money and you're feel bad.
- To avoid over-pricing, here are some other tips:
- Start with smaller work.
- It's takes less time to complete, costs less to frame and will sell faster.
- Make prints. Prints can often sell for lot's less than originals and you won't need to frames the prints unless you want to.
- If you're a new or emerging Artist, sell for less to get your work out there. Remember that sharing your work is a big reason to have a show.
What to do at the show opening - It's important as an Artist that you attend the opening of the show you're featured in. Plan to be there early and engage with people - So I'm at the show and people are actually talking to me.
- Be yourself. Be genuine. Be respectful.
- Wear something nice. It's fun to dress up once a while. You don't need to wear a tuxedo, but it's respectful to spruce up a bit. Business casual comes to mind. I like to wear a suit, no tie.
- Be prepared to talk about your artwork. There is probably a story behind all your art, tell it.
- It's very likely that YOU are the differentiator for your work. There are many Artists in the world, there is only one of YOU.
- Enjoy yourself and make new friends. You've got a real opportunity to make some friends and build some bridges.
- Don't sell other work - Remember that the gallery has given you a show, don't sell work under the table or outside the gallery.
- If someone asks if you'll sell them work outside the gallery, you can offer them a business card, share your website and tell them you're happy to discuss it at a later date.
A thank you is still important.
- Remember to thank the gallery for giving you the opportunity. A personal note is often the best way to do this.
- Remember to thank the visitors. In person if possible, but many leave their contact info in a "sign in" book. Send them a note.
- A personal note to anyone who buys your work. I always send a hand written letter. Email is cool, but letters are personal and a difference maker in today's world.