Getting into art shows and getting your art displayed is the work part of art-work.
As I write this I have recently hung twenty paintings at a solo show, have four paintings in a group show, have just heard back from two proposals being rejected, have made a couple of inquiries to private spaces and I am working on a new proposal that is due in a month.
I thought I would share insight into what goes into all of this.
Type of Shows
If you want to show your work to the public in a live setting, there is some work to be done. Since I am member of a couple of art societies, there are couple of shows that they curate and therefore I automatically get one or two pieces in those local shows.
There are also group shows sometimes at prestigious regional galleries and museums that are difficult to get into and if you do, you will likely only get one in.
The best result is to get a solo or two artist show since you will have more works there and that will give people a better sense of your art (and hopefully make a bigger impression.)
Some shows may be a only day or weekend and some last for 1 to 6 months.
Calling all artists
First you have to find the shows. Many shows put out a call to artists or call for artwork. These are of course on their websites but also are gathered on some web portals and distributed on email lists. So an artist should check these periodically to see if any new opportunities have shown up.
It is also possible to get a lead from a fellow artist who has work in a location or who knows of something coming up. You can go to openings and see places that display art to make a determination whether this would be a good fit. Then perhaps contact the venue to see if they have an opening. I have gotten a couples of shows because someone has dropped out at the last minute as I asked what it took to be on their walls.
I have also gotten leads from someone seeing my work online where they had an opening or a desire to display art at their place of business.
Putting on your Sunday best – The application process
For most shows, there is an application process with a judge or jury who determines what gets in. Some may be as simple as filling in an online form and providing a link to your website. More likely what is involved is sending representative or exact images of artwork you are entering, writing a description of the project or of each artwork and how its fits the show’s theme. They may ant a list of previous shows, an artist statement or bio and an application fee.
The representative images must be in a specific format which are not uniform from show to show. For example, a recent project I need to provide 300 dpi, but under a set maximum dimensions and file size.
The Waiting Game
There is usually a known decision date although sometimes the deciding time frame is “February”. In the meantime, there may be other shows to apply to and since you are not sure which show you will get into, there are now paintings that you cannot include in new proposals since they may be on display. Unless of course the shows do not overlap in which case you can enter a particular paintings in two shows. So there is some juggling to do.
OMG. I got in
Sometimes instead of the dreaded form rejection letter or email (which I can usually identify without opening), you receive a “we are pleased to inform you…” letter.
Great! But there is a deadline. The paintings must be delivered usually during a short range of dates, like one or two days (another factor to consider when you apply. Do you have the day open to drive 2 hours to deliver the painting?)
The paintings are almost always done (unless this was a proposal in which case you get back in the studio pronto! since you may need to produce additional similar works). But even with completed art, there still is framing and auxiliary material you may need to provide such as title cards or a suitable for hanging artist bio (in some cases, the venue will do those).
A recent one man show required me to frame 10 paintings in a month when the place had a late cancellation. So that necessitated a frame and glass search. In some cases, I had frames open. I also unframed works that I do not expect to show soon, followed by an in-store and on-line shopping excursion.
I do my own framing by cutting the mattes and placing the paper, matting, and backing surface in the frame so this takes some time. And making sure that some speck does not creep in between the glass and the picture as you are doing the final steps. I managed not to make any false cuts on the mattes this time!
Some places will do the hanging and others want you to do that.
A piece of the pie
There are many possible costs associated with these shows: an application fee, framing and possibly you must provide or contribute to the reception vittles. Many locations also take a commission if you do sell something.
Here is a blog I wrote about one particular reception and show. http://williamswatercolors.com/blog/getting-ready-for-a-galley-show-behind-the-scenes/
Well, on to the show. Maybe I’ll sell some work. I hope to see you there!
Do you ever go to an art reception? How often?