We are in the generation where the gatekeepers are disappearing and more artists are opting to organise exhibitions themselves sourcing spaces and single handedly showcasing their work to the public. Having arranged exhibitions in Birmingham, London and Stratford we’ve rode the emotional and physical roller coaster of successful projects. So we've compiled a few tips on what we believe can make an exciting and rewarding but very stressful process more fluid.
Sourcing a venue
Whether you have a huge budget or you're looking for free space not all spaces are good spaces for exhibitions, you want to ensure three main things its accessible, visible and cost effective. Before any of these three things its worth looking at reviews to get a feel for what other artists thought, don't let this influence you too much unless it is pretty much 100% negative.
Is the gallery accessible? Or is it in the middle of nowhere? Can it be accessed by most modes of transport? The latter being the key.
Is the space behind the backstreets with little to no foot passage? Even if the space isn't on a popular high street, it is a good idea to have passing footfall or even traffic from which commuters and those on their travels can see you works on display.
Some galleries allow artists to exhibit for free and ask for a percentage of commission from what has sold when the exhibition is over, others will charge a fee to have your work up over a duration of time and take no commission. Which ever option you are thinking of taking weigh up the pros and cons, is it financially viable to pay premium? Or is it best to work on a commission basis only? (There will be an in depth post on this coming next week)
View and Visit
Before the work goes up its a great idea to not just take a look around the space but to envision how you see your work there, inspect the lighting whether natural or electrical. Enquire about the options for hanging arrangements as you may have specific frames or requirements.
Keeping track of what you are doing is very beneficial whether its in a good old fashioned paper and pen diary or on an organiser app such as Trello. Setting yourself deadlines are key as working towards them will ensure you have enough time to iron out any patches along the way.
Dialogue & Agreements
In the months leading up to the exhibition you're going to be in constant communication with staff at the gallery or space you are going to be utilising, save yourself a headache and get everything in writing, at times it is easier to call but for the sake of avoiding any misunderstandings get it all in an email.
The promotion of your event is one of the most important parts of your exhibition, as soon as you've got a venue and date set in stone, you start. I’m sure your aware how important it is to ensure as many people as possible know about you, your work and the exhibition. What we found gave us a successful turn out was the following. Creating an event on Eventbrite, contact local press for a feature or at least generate some buzz about the event, utilise social media to the fullest Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, ensure information is on your website, and finally ask as many people as you can to share! Invite those who have shown interest in your work in the past. Approach local businesses surrounding the venue and ask if you can leave any leaflets, flyers or posters. Even if you feel you are making no headway, you are being visible and letting the public know about your upcoming event.
Pack and protect
When its almost exhibition time the final things you must do, ensure your insurance is arranged for your artwork. Packaging and wrapping is also important we are talking from experience frames and glass can easily get damaged in transit.