This time last year, I launched my first Art show. It was challenging and incredibly rewarding! Here are some of the things I learnt from the experience.
1. It's stressful
There's a lot of work involved. Especially when it's time to set it all up! I learnt a lot about how to mount artwork such as how to use a spirit level. It makes you appreciate the work that goes behind an Art show!
2. You may not sell anything
I didn't sell any of the artworks I featured. However, I used the event to launch my online store and sold some Giclee prints. I was also asked to complete some commission work. Not the results I expected, but I was happy with that!
3. It's a great opportunity to collaborate
A friend of mine launched a food business, so he offered to cater for the event. Those delicious jerk chicken bites were thanks to him! It makes you realise that there's potentially a lot of talent in your network who you can collaborate with!
4. A gallery layout is well thought-out and deliberate
Art is arranged throughout a gallery so that people can move through them in a circular motion. There's often enough wall space between artwork so that the observer can be alone with each piece. I did not know about this principle and mounted all my artwork on one wall. It encouraged comparison and did not give people the opportunity to appreciate each piece for what it is.
5. It's expensive
Venue hire, marketing, wine, mounting materials, and the time it takes to set up and cleanup all adds to the cost!
6. Do not place drinks near the exit
This encourages people to get a drink and leave. Instead, place refreshments on the other side of the room so that your guests are encouraged to mingle and stick around. Things you can leave by the door are your mailing list and flyers/ postcards.
7. Use Facebook marketing
I created an event on facebook about a month prior to the show, boosted it and drove traffic to it. The reach was surprisingly far! I also hustled and told everyone in my network and asked them to invite their friends. Being mindful that it was a free event, the show rate would have been about half the number of people who responded. Aside from friends and colleagues, there were many people who came through the door who I had never met before! That is the power of social media. All it took was a very simple facebook campaign that targeted local art lovers.
8. It's a great way to start an email list
I used the facebook event to take registrations via an email list. This gave me an idea on numbers and gave me a starting list to launch a Newsletter.
9. You will receive unwavering support from friends and loved ones
I normally shy away from being open about my art and business goals from friends and family due to poor experience in the past. And I continue to be discreet because you can't expect everyone to be understanding and supportive. And that's ok! However, I was so pleased to see many of my friends show up and support me. And my mum was there from start to finish. She put up with me being stressed out! Thank you mum. It is valuable to have friends and family who genuinely support you and respect your goals! This is especially true when times are tough.
10. It's empowering
You can do it. You don't need to be signed up to a gallery to launch a show. There are plenty of venues to choose from and you can really get creative when you run the show. And with social media, you can drive traffic to your event and fill up the room!
Doing something as uncomfortable and challenging as an Art show helped me grow. The things I learnt and the feedback I received will help me do better next time! It made me feel like anything is possible.
I would encourage you to take up a project that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Do you have something you've always wanted to do? Be brave! Start today.