Recently, member artist Christopher Johnson posted a few questions in the forums asking for advice on his first art show he’s hoping to do. John Kraft was cool enough to answer his questions with some solid sage advice. Now that’s a good artist community. Helping each other out.
Here’s Chris’ 8 questions (in bold) and John’s answers. I thought I’d share as they’re helpful tips for any artist looking for some pointers on their first art show.
1. What size prints are best? In other words do art buyers dislike small prints for example 6″x8″ ? Is there an “at least” size?
You will probably have the best luck with a greater number of smaller to medium size art prints + 1 large (anchor or show piece). The show piece lets you wow folks and perhaps catch the crowds attention, but most people will opt for purchasing the smaller more affordable pieces. Also with smaller pieces your overall cost of mounting a show is lower and your chance for actual sales is higher.
2. Do I need to frame prints or is there a cheaper alternative I can do at home?
If budget is an issue, especially with shipping, you can order your prints and then frame locally. Lately I’ve had prints delivered where the mat (or white space) is built into the image itself. You then trim to border to match standard store bought frames. No mat costs, clean look and space for you to sign, title and number your work below the image on a white background where it’s not only easy to read but actually part of the print. I like this because I’ve NEVER understood the value of a signed mat.
3. What are some good starting prices? Yes of course I need to at least cover costs, but I’d appreciate any suggestions.
Look at the art up in your area, how it’s priced AND how it’s selling. Ask the cafe owner for example how many pieces actually sell. I actually tend to price lower in galleries because I want the art to move. There’s nothing more discouraging than coming to an end of a show and removing ALL the work you brought in.
4. Is there a minimum number of artworks needed to have a successful show?
Totally depends on the space. And regardless, you can print up cheap contact sheets or postcards that show examples of other available work, even if it’s not actually installed in the space.
5. What is the best way to promote a first show? I obviously don’t have a list of buyers since I’ve never had a local exhibit. I could invite Facebook friends but very few live here and fewer like to buy art.
Grass roots, postcards, flyers, word-of-mouth. I once stood on Lombard Street (literally) handing out postcards to one of my shows.
6. How long should I have work on display?
Typical cafe rotations are a month to 45 days. So that’s a good rule of thumb. Most smaller gallery shows are also on a one month cycle because art openings usually occur on the 1st Thursday or Friday of each month.
7. Do I need to be present all the time?
No, but the people in the space need to be your advocate. They should try to notice when people are interested and offer them one of your info sheets/postcards. When you’re not in the space the same person selling coffee is in effect a representative of YOUR brand. So treat them well and with respect and request that they look out for you.
8. When an artwork is sold do I give it to them at the time of payment or should I ask them to wait until the show is over?
Totally up to you. I would go with what the buyer wants. If they are open to leaving it, place a little red dot by the piece indicating it’s sold. If they want it right away, give it to them and replace with another piece. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and it’s the happiest problem you will EVER have.