Curating your own art exhibition is a fantastic way of getting your artwork out into the public domain when you don’t have representation from an art gallery. Display your own work or collaborate with other artists, hire out a venue, install the artwork and open it up to public – it’s as simple as that, right? Well, not quite – but here are some helpful hints to guide you along the way!
- Installing the Artwork
Before you arrive at the gallery or venue it’s important to have a layout plan designed and ready to implement. You’ll also need to have purchased, hired or collected all the relevant display boards, tools and artwork (or have it arranged to be delivered to the venue) in plenty of time to allow you chance to set up before punters turn up on the day.
It’s a good idea to visit the venue before the day of the exhibition to plan exactly how your layout is going to work. You want to create a natural flow that compliments the theme of the exhibition and guides clients seamlessly from display to display.
- Recording the Event
Recording the exhibition has a number of advantages. Firstly you’ll be able to look back and see exactly what went well and what could be improved upon, and which displays were popular and which less so. Moreover, a recording of the exhibition can be used in future press releases or marketing campaigns to show other galleries exactly how successful your previous exhibitions have been.
On the day you don’t want to be stuck holding a camcorder so bite the bullet and a hire a professional to get you quality look shots.
- Providing Entertainment
Whilst the artwork is of course the focal point of the exhibition, there should be complimentary entertainment and refreshments to create an atmosphere and keep guests from leaving too soon. Whilst musicians or a DJ may be outside your budget range, a carefully selected soundtrack is a simple but effective way of adding an ambience that matches the theme of your exhibition.
In terms of catering, guests are likely to expect drinks and nibbles at the very least. On the other hand, if you are hosting in a restaurant or café, a sit-down meal can be a great way to attract clients. Remember to provide soft drinks as well as alcoholic drinks so no guest goes un-watered.
- Networking and Sales
Once clients begin to arrive it’s important to unobtrusively network with as many as possible. This entails greeting them personally, ensuring they have a drink and talking them through the theme and ideas behind the exhibition. There’s no need to dive in for the kill and drive home sales, handing over a business card and letting guests wander around the exhibit of their accord is usually far more effective than trying to sell them the first painting them come across.
In terms of sales, be sure to have artwork clearly labelled with sizes, prices and titles. Hanging one or two pre-sold items (identifiable by something like a red sticker for example) can encourage your guests to trust you and is a useful tool in driving sales. If you find guests giving an item particular attention do not be afraid to wander over and ask them if they are interested in taking it home with them. Negotiate confidently, and resist the temptation to drop below 5-10% of your asking price.
Having a working card machine at the event is also very important. Often people don’t carry cash and such guests are unlikely to make an impulse purchase if they find there is no way to pay on card.
- The Running Order
Finally, the running order of your exhibition should be clearly planned and defined before the event begins.
Allow time for your guests to arrive and mingle whilst you provide drinks and refreshments. Following this you might like to have a distinguishable guest open the show or you might like to make a small introductory speech before inviting guests to enjoy your exhibit.
Following the entertainment or meal, allow guests time to investigate and make purchases, before drawing the evening to a close with a thank you and information on how to get in touch.