6 Exhibiting Tips for Artists.
I've compiled a list of the best tips I can think of to help your exhibition process go as smoothly as humanly possible. If you've never exhibited before, it can be scary and confusing. If you have exhibited before, but found it a stressful ball of struggle, perhaps these tips will help you figure out where you're going wrong.
1. Do not commit to exhibiting unless you're 100% sure you can.
This is probably more important than you realise - sure, you get invited to exhibit and you're so thrilled and flattered that you immediately say yes. But as that deadline looms, you realise you've got too much on your plate and that you have to bail. Which is probably a huge bummer for you! Unfortunately, what this means on the other side of the fence is that there's now a space in that show - and not having your magnificent artwork involved is a detriment to the show.
If you do have to bail - give them as much notice as you can. The more time before the exhibition there is, the more chance they have to rejig the show around your absence. Unfortunately, if you establish yourself as flakey and unreliable, it is unlikely that the curator or gallery will be super keen to work with you again. Like in any field, reliability and professionalism are regarded highly. Let them know that this is a one off occurrence, and that you'll ensure you can commit next time.
2. Make sure you understand the submission guidelines.
Usually there is a super important reason behind the guidelines that may seem arbitrary to you. If certain dimensions are requested - stick to them. Usually an exhibition has limited space, and if everyone goes over the limit, then there's a good chance the show won't even fit where it's supposed to. Which won't be helpful in doing your work the justice it deserves. If the exhibition is for paintings, make sure you submit a painting. If it's for photography, make sure you submit photography. If it's for artworks that are purple, make sure your artwork is purple. Seems simple, and you probably already knew that - but you'd be surprised how often the guidelines are ignored.
3. Be cooperative.
Let's say you have a broken water pipe in your house. You call the plumber over to help you, but you hide the key to your house somewhere in your front yard for him to find. WHAT EVEN. Makes no sense to hinder the person who's here to serve you - so please help your curator. Sure, you're paying them and you want to get the most for your money. But actively being difficult will not reap a positive result for anyone. Help them help you.
4. Ensure your artwork is ready to display.
This is a big one - you want your artwork to dazzle all onlookers, right? So make sure it's ready to display! Sounds obvious. But man, you would not believe how many artworks I've had handed over to me that are in no way possible to display. I've been given a doll without a stand, a canvas without a wire on the back, a sculpture that doesn't hold still, pieces of unframed paper and a rolled up print in a tube. The state in which your piece arrives at the exhibition space is the state it's going to be displayed in. Now, nothing is wrong with displaying your work in different ways, such as unframed or leaning rather than hanging. As long as you discuss this with the curator prior to delivering your piece. That way they can work out how your artwork is going to look it's best and where it will fit in the scheme of things. Not to mention what materials they'll require to display your piece.
5. Communication is key.
Every mistake and misunderstanding can be forgiven - as long as you keep communicating! Sometimes I don't hear from an artist at all between the acceptance email and when they rock up with their work at the gallery 4 months later. Say what!? If your curator sends you an email, please reply. If you have a question, please ask them. There is no question that is too dumb to ask! Trust me. It's better than not asking and having something go wrong at the last minute. There are artists who email too much, but I can tell you that's nowhere near as frustrating as the artists who don't email at all. As a general rule of thumb, if you get an email - especially with direct questions or requirements for you - reply.
6. Label your artwork.
When I'm balls deep in artworks and have to match all the wall plaques with the pieces - it's amazingly helpful if you've actually put your name and title of the piece on the back. There's been times when I've had to decipher cryptic signatures in order to try and match the artwork to the plaque.
And there you have it! Hopefully there was at least one tip that really resonated with you, that will help your exhibiting process next time. If you have any other tips you'd like to share, please comment. Or if you have any questions at all about exhibiting, curating or arting in general, holler at me!