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. Make sure you choose a date that doesn’t co-inside with any other popular events. 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 and give your artwork catchy titles this also creates interest and curiosity.

Your best work
Select the most impressive and best work to be displayed. Mediocre work should not be included. 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”.

Your venue
Choosing and securing your venue is also of great importance. This should not only be clean and interesting but also perhaps a bit quirky and unusual to cause interest to your guests. You can go for a Gallery or host your exhibition in Cafes, cultural centres, restaurants or churches. Actually any space, so long as it’s available, geographically reachable, equipped and large enough.
The location you choose should be clean, well lit and have enough toilet facilities. Once you have found your exhibition venue and decided on a time, you can concentrate on deciding where to hang the works of art. Later when all the artwork has been allotted a place, the lighting on each piece can be fine-tuned. All art work needs the relevant information displayed and or a QR code, so that visitors can take a look online. Basic information such as medium used, the name of the piece and price should be clearly visible next to each artwork.

The first thing that springs to mind are flyers and posters, which not only give the name of the exhibition, the time, date, venue, dress code and entrance fee. You can distribute posters and flyers in your local university, art school, local supermarket, cafes or local shops. If you have a substantial email list, make sure to invite these contact to your event and give them a taste of what they can expect.

Get a striking press release together and use 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.

Another good idea is making a QR code that can be hung next to the painting and when scanned, can take the viewer to a video where you or the artist is making the painting. A QR code could contain film of you giving a tour of your studio, a short statement about yourself, what you do and have achieved. A glimpse of the beginning, middle and end of the painting being displayed is also a good idea. People are always interested in the development of a painting or artwork.

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.

Meet and greet
Set up a meet and greet area. Here you can welcome arrivals and answer any relevant questions.

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. If the exhibition is in the winter months, make sure there is somewhere to hang coats and wet umbrellas.

Have your price list and sales contacts ready and printed, so that the buyer can   fill in the address that the painting has to be delivered to and also how much down payment has been paid. 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. Don’t forget to give them a free invitation. 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 objects, photographers that can either take photographs or video’s of the event and general helping hands, there’s always something to do.

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 and not only thank your visitors for attending, but also your host that has supplied the venue. A gesture of thanks never goes amiss.

Download our Free Art Exhibition Checklist here and make sure you have organised everything you need to organise a perfect and successful art exhibition. It’s free.



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