How to organise an unforgettable art exhibition

Hosting and organizing an art exhibition, requires a lot of planning, time, dedication, patience and stamina. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to realise your goal.  It doesn’t matter if you are displaying your own work or that of other artists, planning is of the utmost importance and without this, things can quickly turn into chaos. There are so many things to think about and organize that it can become a challenge pulling it all together. However, when you succeed, it is a tremendously satisfying feeling, seeing all the hard work and effort falling into place. Take a look at these practical tips to help you on your way to success.

Pick a theme
First of all select a theme. This unifies the exhibition. Lots of loose pieces portraying different subjects become confusing and disjointed no matter how good the artwork is, it doesn’t hold the viewer’s attention for long. The more unusual the theme is, the more interest it will create. Give your artwork catchy titles, this also creates interest and curiosity.

Your best work
Select the most impressive and best work to display. Don’t include mediocre work. It’s often a good idea to exhibit work that hasn’t been seen before. You then have a selling pitch by saying “the art on show is being seen for the very first time”.

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Your venue
Choosing and securing your venue is also of great importance. Pick an interesting location like, an unusual café, a church, a gallery, a refurbished local building, a library for example. Make sure it is interesting, large and spacious and a bit quirky and unusual to cause interest to your guests.
The location you choose should be clean, well lit and have enough toilet facilities.
If the exhibition is in the winter months, make sure there is somewhere to hang coats and wet umbrellas.
Having a kitchen space or a bar, where you can prepare snacks and drinks is also essential. Food and drink always creates a nice ambiance. Make sure you have free beverage for your guests. Having someone to walk around during the exhibition, offering small bite sized snacks and drinks, also creates a relaxed atmosphere.

Time and date
Pick a time and date that you want to host your exhibition. Make sure you choose a date that doesn’t co-inside with any other popular events. You don’t want your audience to have to choose which event to go to.

The first thing that springs to mind are flyers and posters, which state the name of the exhibition, the time, date, venue and the dress code. You can distribute posters and flyers in your local university, art school, local supermarket, cafes or local (art) shops.
Also create a digital poster that you can share on your website and social media platforms.
Besides posters and digital flyers you can also use your e-mail list of contacts to inform your followers about your exhibition.
Create a ‘Giveaway’ to attract potential customers. Such as ‘Signed mini prints’ or ‘Signed book’ for the first 20 visitors.

Press Release
Get a striking press release together and use a good quality portrait photograph of yourself. Include a short Artist Statement and send this off to the local press and post it on your website and social media channels.

Pricing your artwork
This is always a difficult subject for an artist. An exhibition is not only to showcase your work and get your name known, but also to sell it. Prices should be acceptable to both you and the buyer. Factors such as technical ability, the medium used and the time involved in making the piece, should all be taken into account. Selling preliminary sketches or print reproductions which are given a much lower price tag is also an idea. You can also add certiciates of authenticity to your work.

Setting up
Now it is time to set up your art exhibition. You need to decide where to hang your artwork on the walls. Adjust your lighting, so that your artwork is well lit.
Add detailed information tags next to each piece of artwork. Stating the title, size, materials used and story behind it. If you have a lenghty story to tell, you can create QR codes. When people scan these codes they could be refered to a website or a video of you explaining how you created your artwork. Or perhaps you want to show a glimpse of the beginning, middle and end of the painting to show how it was created. People are always interested in the development of a painting or artwork.
Have price lists ready and printed for your guests.

Meet and greet
Set up a meet and greet area. You can talk to your guests here and perhaps they will want to sign your guestbook.
Have your Artist Statement printed out and on display in this area. If you have more than one person wanted to talk and connect with you, they can read this while waiting.

Have your sales contacts ready and printed. Having a contract gives you and the buyer some security. The buyer can fill in his/her details such as the address that the painting has to be delivered to. You can also agree on a price for the down-payment. It’s a bit like a receipt really. A signature from the buyer also gives a binding feeling for the seller.

Insurance is another topic to deal with. Depending on where the location is and what the prices of the artwork are, it’s better to contact your local insurance company and ask their advice.

Accept all available help, you will need it. You can’t do everything on your own. Family or friends, everyone who is willing to help is appreciated. Strong and tall men that will carry and assemble things, electricians who can help with lighting, someone with a large car or van for transportation of your artwork, and someone who can take photographs and video’s during the event.
You will need someone to help you with the catering and walk around with drinks and snacks. General helping hands are always welcome.

Red stickers
Finally, don’t forget to take the red stickers with you, let hope you will need them!

Follow up
Once your exhibition has come to an end, don’t forget to follow up. Thank your visitors for attending, but also your host that has supplied the venue. Don’t forget all your helping hands, who made this exhibition possible. They will appreciate your gesture and will likely help you with your next exhibition.

Download our Free Art Exhibition Checklist here and make sure to organise an unforgettable art exhibition.




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