Whether you're presenting your own work or that of other artists, hosting an exhibition is a uniquely enriching experience. Although it may not be easy to bring together so many elements that it all forms a single whole and at the same time makes sense. Therefore, when you organize an exhibition yourself, it is imperative that you have a plan of action. Once you have decided on the theme of the exhibition, you can accept applications from interested artists, choose a suitable place for this event and launch an advertising campaign so that your collection is seen and appreciated by as many people as possible.
Select a unifying theme. A well-thought-out art exhibition is characterized by a well-traced theme that ties different pieces together and gives the feeling that they are part of a whole. Think about what message your exhibition should convey. It can be an image or phenomenon, a feeling or a certain pictorial technique. The clearer the topic, the better. For example, "Black and White" is too generalized to produce a strong impact, while "Isolation and Femininity" reveals much more interesting ideological pairs.
Think about the name of the exhibition. A catchy title like "Neon Dreams" will help attract attention and more clearly reveal the topic presented.
Choose the most impressive work. Select some of the best or most recent works to show. If you are holding a personal exhibition, which should give the main place to your own work, you will need 10 to 30 paintings to present to the public. The theme of the exhibition must be displayed in each copy. In the months leading up to the exhibition, create original works that you will present to the public for the first time on the opening day.
If your works are of small format, you should exhibit more paintings.
Contact local artists to provide materials for the exhibition. Do some research looking for creative people in your area who might be interested in participating in your exhibition. A collaborative effort can be a great opportunity for many different artists to present their art at the same event, resulting in a more diverse and complete selection. Narrow down the range of artists by focusing on those who have a similar style of work to yours or create works related to a given topic.
Hosting an exhibition in conjunction with other artists will also allow you to share the cost of rent, licensing costs, framing, and promotional materials.
Work through different channels. Your exhibition should not consist solely of paintings and drawings. Freely include the work of photographers, sculptors and other masters of figurative art. A wide selection of works will give cooperation a dynamic atmosphere and bring more joy to your customers.The best solution is to take on works that can be framed, hung on the wall and sold. Although it is also possible to invite poets or musicians who will perform at the event, especially if their work complements the theme of the exhibition.
Organization of the event
Give credit to all participants for their contributions.
Decide on the date and time. Organizing an art exhibition requires exhausting coordination, so be realistic about the time frame you set for yourself. It is worth starting planning the event at least 2-3 months in advance so that you have enough time to prepare. If possible, choose a date towards the end of the week, when many people have a day off and people are looking for things to do in the city. Try to make sure that the dates of the exhibition do not coincide with any holidays. Since in this case you will have to compete for the attention of the public.
You should be clear about the date before proceeding with the next phases of planning, such as reserving a venue and starting an advertising campaign.
Book your venue. Start your search for a suitable venue for the exhibition. The most obvious solution is to rent a studio or art gallery, but remember that the choice is not limited to traditional art locations. You can ask around at restaurants, cafes, palaces of culture, churches and business centers, and find out if they are willing to help with this event.Holding your first exhibition in a more mundane place, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, will help you overcome the jitters.
Make sure that the location you choose is clean, well-lit, and spacious enough to accommodate all the artwork you intend to present.
Evaluate your work for sale. The purpose of the exhibition is not only to show the artist's works, but also to sell them. As soon as you have an exposition, it is worth considering how much you evaluate each work. Try to set prices that are acceptable for both you and the buyer, taking into account the painting technique, technical complexity and labor invested in the creation of this work. If you are collaborating with other artists, then you will need to negotiate the prices of the works they submit.
Not everyone can afford a full-size painting or an original picture. Therefore, it is good to have less expensive works on hand, such as small-format paintings, drawings, and prints of reproductions that can be sold for a lower fee.
Create promotional materials. Print posters, leaflets, brochures and information announcements on one page that would briefly describe the essence of the exhibition and what works of art can be seen on it. Make sure key details are listed throughout, such as date and time, venue, dress code, and entrance fee (if necessary). If your trade show is a high-end event, then it may be worth making a press release or posting interviews in local news outlets. Place your advertisements in public places such as your local university or school, coffee shops, clubs, or even on a public bulletin board near a supermarket.
Send out photo cards with biographies of artists and a selection of their work as personal invitations.
Let the rumor go. Let the people around you know that you are working on an exhibition. You can mention this in person or post information about the event on your social media pages. In some cases, it is possible to cooperate with the administration of the venue - they can make sure that the news reaches a wider range of visitors through their website, press releases and official announcements. Use media-sharing apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr to preview your upcoming exposure.
You can also ask friends, family, classmates, or co-workers to "start word of mouth" about an upcoming exhibition.
Holding a successful exhibition
Ask for help. Enlist the support of volunteers, as well as the help of professionals: movers, framers and lighting experts. Together, it will be easier to coordinate the unloading and loading of work, place the necessary equipment and displays in the designated place, and monitor works of art so that they are not damaged or stolen. A dedicated team can lighten your burden, and their (the team's) presence ensures that the event goes off without a hitch. In addition to movers, it's a good idea to hire a photographer or cameraman to capture the event on film, as well as a musical group or DJ for unobtrusive musical accompaniment.
Delegate tasks and commitments to a team of volunteers so that you have the opportunity to deal with the finishing touches in preparation.
Prepare the exhibition space. Your first order will be the installation and placement of works in the designated place. Based on this, you can adjust the lighting so that each work is well lit and clearly visible. Imagine how you want visitors to see and interact with the space, then think about the final layout that will meet the tasks. The theme of your exhibition should be reflected in the layout of the space. For example, for an installation about harassment by government agencies, you can place signs or ropes to restrict or control the movements of your guests.
Don't forget to set aside a place to meet guests, shopping tables, or other resources that you might find useful.
Interact with the audience. As guests begin to gather, set aside time to answer questions and describe the pieces they are about to review. This is often the most exciting part of the exhibition for most artists, as you have the opportunity to meet people who will buy and critique your work, discuss the intricacies of your style, and shed light on your creative process. If you present your works yourself, be nearby so that you can easily be identified as their creator.
Art exhibitions are inherently social events, so don't be afraid to socialize and enjoy a good time.
Arrange light snacks. Serve food and drinks to guests while they enjoy the display. Simple snacks like cheese, fruit, canapés and wine will suffice in most cases. If you expect a large influx of visitors, order cocktail shrimp, miniature pies, hummus and other more significant popular dishes. Like everything related to the exhibition, when compiling the menu, you need to take into account the location. Also think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create (casual or formal) and what outfits you should wear.
More reputable art galleries sometimes cover the cost of food at large events.
It is highly recommended to take out liability insurance for the location where the exhibition is held. That way, you won't be responsible if something happens to the guest, the painting, or the room itself.
Plan, buy, arrange delivery, cleaning, framing and accommodation as early as possible to reduce the stress of approaching the event date.
Wrap the artwork in bubble wrap to protect it during transport to and from the venue.
If you are not afraid of public speaking, give a short speech at the opening. Thank the guests for coming, then briefly explain the chosen topic for a few minutes, introduce the artists with whom you collaborated and your overall vision for this project.
Consider selling other products (T-shirts, bags, badges, and so on) that may be of interest to people who do not intend to buy original works of art.
Don't forget to warn future visitors if the exhibition features "adult" themes that are not suitable for young viewers.