Getting ready for your first art show can be both scary and exciting. There is a lot of information to swallow so I will break it down into easily digestible bite-size pieces for you. This subject will take several articles over a period of time. So bear with me and watch this space.
So you think you're ready to put your art out there for all the world to see? I'm so proud. I knew you could do it. The first thing to consider is this. Do you have enough work for a show? Unless I am sharing booth space with other artists I never show with less than ten original paintings. I prefer twenty. The more work you have to sell the better. That applies to sculptures and photos too. If your work is very small you will need much more. If you work well under pressure and deadlines spur you on, you can enter your show before you have all your artwork finished. Some people have to do this in order to motivate themselves to get their work done. I confess I procrastinate whenever possible so I need that fast approaching show to push me. Once I'm committed to doing a show I knuckle down and get to work. I hope you have more self discipline.
We will discuss gallery shows at another time. For now let's talk about art and craft fairs. You will need work that you can sell for a variety of prices. In general your larger works will have larger prices than smaller pieces. Your smaller art will usually be less expensive. It is a good idea to have some lower priced products to sell in your show. Prints can help with this. You may also want to sell other products such as cards, t-shirts or other items printed with your designs. This can increase your sales dramatically without too much work on your part.
Now that you have your products, you have to choose a show. Fine art shows are probably going to be more successful for you than craft fairs. There are all kinds of opportunities for showing your work in most areas of the country. Many are part of larger festivals and will be better promoted, thus drawing bigger crowds. You can find out about them through art and craft magazines, your Chamber of Commerce, local media, craft stores and artist groups. Remember to search online for art shows. There are all kinds of events happening all around you. Depending on the type of work you do you might find that home and garden shows, pet or horse shows work well for you. If you do fantasy art there are fantasy and sci fi conventions too. It's okay to think outside the box. Generally the best shows cost more to enter but the sales will likely be better for most artists. If you have to pinch your pennies don't ignore the smaller shows. They tend to require lower fees. These can be great starter shows and after you do your first you will be ready for the next one. Your greatest resources for finding out about shows in your area are your fellow artists. Ask around. Many shows are annual events and artists who have exhibited in previous years can tell you which ones are worth entering.
Some venues available to you will be indoors, while others will be outdoors. I can't say that I have a preference for one over the other. Indoor shows will require less equipment and you don't have to worry so much about the weather. I've shown indoors and out. I had lots of fun, met wonderful people, learned a lot and sold some art at both.
Now that you have picked out a show you that interests you it's time to enter. Call, write or email to request an application. These days you can often apply online. Show officials will want to see samples of your work especially if the show is a juried show. You will have to send photos or slides of your art. You might have to send digital photos on a CD or DVD. Unless your art is photography, your best bet is to have a pro take your photos. If you choose to do your own pictures make sure they are the best photographs you can make. Photograph your paintings out of the frame under natural light without flash. Do it outdoors in the shade! Make sure the paintings are facing straight toward the camera. Square up your corners and fill the viewing area. Use a plain background for 3D works. Sculpture can be shot indoors with strong directional lighting if color and glare are not a problem. Use an image editing program to straighten and crop your photos. Small works may be scanned instead of photographed. Your local office supply store or print shop will do this for a small charge. The nice people at the store will put your photos right on your jump drive or SD card. They can also burn them to a CD or print them for you. While you're there check out all the wonderful products they can make for you to resell such as prints, calendars and note cards.
Next fill out your application, pay your fees and you are on your way to the show. Enter early so you have plenty of time to get ready. There is much to do and I'll tell you more in a future article. Until then keep up the good work and I'll see you in class.
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