Exhibition Tips for the Newbies, part 2


Every challenge an artist faces, with inspiration, with relationships, with money, can be thought of as a painting challenge.

The more skillful we are at dealing with these things the better it is for our art. And so it is with career.

Artists should work on their career skills early on because they will take time to develop, and update them continually.

If you’re serious about showing your work then don’t wait until you feel your training is completely over. Start small and get into the game as soon as you can.

Which brings me to the next set of tips for those of you getting started:

1. Know Thy Art.
Always be ready with brief meaningful answers to questions about your work.

The questions may seem silly (“Is that oil?”) but they also present a perfect opening to share a bit about your process and yourself.

You’re the best rep you’ll ever have, so give your message some thought and practice and avoid wisecracks, no matter what.

Make their job easy.
People in the business are juggling a bunch of artists and tasks.

So without being a pushover, be accommodating and pleasant to deal with. Answer your own questions if you can; be the consummate professional.

The logic is simple; the easier you are to work with, the greater your chances of being invited back.

Buy a great frame. Or don’t.
Go all out with a gorgeous, museum-quality frame, or leave it off completely.

Not having a frame at all on your work is better than having a cheap one, and there is a beauty and modernity to clean painted edges on unframed canvases, especially the larger ones.

Play Nice.
Don’t ever, ever, spread negative gossip about your fellow artists or art professionals.

It’s human nature to complain, we all do it, and in a strange way it connects us.

But inappropriate in business and it makes you sound whiny and unprofessional.

Unflattering comments actually to stick more to the person making them. If you must, share grievances with your spouse or significant other; that’s what they’re for.

Don’t paint in the 11th hour.
The moment your work is accepted for an exhibition, consider it done…for now.

Trying to “finish” or improve a piece too close to showtime can cause stress and backfire, leaving you with something weaker than you had in the first place.

If your art finds a home during the run of a show, great!

If not, you’ve gained valuable perspective seeing it on the wall and can attack it later, so it’s a win-win.

A delicate and complicated issue that could be the subject of an entire post, but here are two rules of thumb:

See if you can find out what artists of similar experience, age and exhibition histories (your competition) are receiving, not just asking, for their work and price yours accordingly.

Imagine that midpoint between what you would like to get and what a collector would like to pay; both sides should be willing to give a little.

Don’t hold out for the grand slam or settle for the sure thing; let your prices be, well, a little boring.

If you ever hear the words, “you don’t seem like an artist”; celebrate!  It means you look, sound and behave like a pro.

Exhibition Tips, Part 1

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