Have you ever showcased your art before? I did for my first time in May! At first I was extremely nervous and unsure if I was going to go through with it... I had multiple questions going through my mind. Am I ready? Is this the right showcase? Do I have enough time to prepare? These may seem like simple questions, but there is so much more to it! It is important that you lay out all the pros and cons of an opportunity before committing.
After determining this showcase was a right fit for me, the planning started. I had about a month to prepare for the show which really is not ideal but doable.
Now since this was my first showcase one of the first things I did was lots of research. I wanted to get all the information I could to help prepare and design the perfect path for me. From my journey, I came up with 11 suggested points to follow.
Here are the 11 points:
- Determine the audience.
- Consider your time.
- Make a list, check it twice.
- Promote your event.
- Map out your space.
- Design space with personality.
- Make sure the price is right.
- Polish your work.
- Pack up for your event early.
- Dress for success.
- Enjoy your event & smile!
Now lets break these points down...
DETERMINE THE AUDIENCE:
Just because an event seems popular and well attended doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. Sure, you want to get your feet wet and try it out, but I highly recommend ensuring the show you want to participate in has the right audience for your work. Ask yourself a few questions: Are the people attending this event, similar to your customer/client base? Is art the primary focus of the event? Or are people mainly attending for another attraction? If you haven’t quite defined who your client segment is, then try putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Would you go to this event and buy art? Participating in an art show is a big commitment and in some cases can be an expense, so make sure you pick the one best geared to your target audience.
CONSIDER YOUR TIME:
If you’re like me and work 8-5, finding the time to properly get ready for one event is very stressful. When you decide to participate in an event, the first thing you need to know are the dimensions and setting of your space. Once you have the dimensions and type of space, you need to determine the amount of work you will need. I wanted to show mostly original pieces and did not have enough prepared so that increased my pressure. I would not recommend that to everyone. If you work well under pressure like me then go for it! Ideally if you realize you need to create more pieces, give yourself ample time.
MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE:
Depending on the type of show, see what the event will provide for you at the showcase first. Some art show directors will tell you what you should bring, but there are always a few items they may forget. So, here is a list of suggested and must-have items for each event.
- Lighting - clamp lights work marvellously
- Extra light bulbs
- Extension cords
- Electrical tape
- Decorative Lighting
- Table cloth
- S-hooks to hang your work
- Zip ties (these will come in hand for anything and everything)
- Description Tags (Name of work, size, medium, price etc.)
- Square or other payment method
- Shipping forms (Not everyone wants to carry around artwork)
- Packaging materials (I used large merchandise bags with tissue paper, and it worked wonderfully - I stamped my logo on them as a little extra touch)
- Prints of previous work in a variety of sizes (These were a hit for me! I should have brought more!)
- Cloth or paper towel to wipe down your pieces
- Banner / Sign (Invest in something reusable)
- Business cards (Don’t have any? GET SOME!)
- Postcards (I used to promote my pet portraits)
- Fun extras (I put out a bowl of DUM DUMS lollipops for people to take)
I am all one for to do lists. I make lists for everything! One good way to stay organized in one's busy personal and work life. Also, I found using my iPhone reminders so helpful to keep me in check. Just don't make your list and not look at it until the end - have it in a spot where you are always looking at it for reminder.
PROMOTE YOUR EVENT:
You know you're excited for the show, but you have to get everyone else just as excited! I think this is a very important and continuous step. You’ve put all of this work into putting on a good show, now it’s time to tell the world. Not everyone knows about all the amazing events that happen in your city, so tell them. Get on your social networks and continuously promote your upcoming show with announcing your event and what it will have to offer, then post appealing pictures and sneak peeks of what you will be showing at your show. If people can tell how excited and passionate you are about your work they will believe and feel it too! One super beneficial way to get people to come to your show is to get over the uncomfortable feeling of asking people to come to something for you. Make that personal phone call or send that personal text/email and tell them about the event and tell them you would love for them to come... they will appreciate the personal gesture more than you think and will want to come.
MAP OUT YOUR SPACE:
Planning out your booth/space at an event is key. After you receive the dimensions, determine not just how many pieces you should bring, but which pieces you should bring. That seems easy enough right? Just remember that how you set up your space will impact how your art is perceived. Spaces that look cluttered and disorganized stick out like a sore thumb.
Consider different tastes and bring multiple sizes and colour schemes. Consider the flow and space between pieces. And if you can manage, try to make your space interactive. I added where people could grab DUM DUM lollipops and enter into my raffle giveaway.
DESIGN YOUR SPACE WITH PERSONALITY:
You can display all your work on a blank white wall and leave it at that, but is that displaying all that you are as an artist? This is your first time presenting your work and yourself to the art showcase world! Show the sparkle and personality behind the work. I know this is probably harder for guys, but add decor to your booth or space. When you create a space that is appealing and interesting people will want to come check it out - it is as simple as that!
MAKE SURE THE PRICE IS RIGHT:
I’ll make this short and sweet. Going into my first showcase I set a mindset of making it more about the experience and exposure. Yes I wanted to sell out on my originals, but I knew that audience wasn't going to come in ready to buy original artwork for what it is worth. How you price your pieces is really up to you – I am not going to tell you what your paintings should be worth. Don't lower your pricing due to the audience... I would say stick with what it is worth. But definitely bring pieces of various price points and lots of prints that you can sell at a lower price. I almost sold out of my prints at my show and I was not expecting that so definitely will have more for next time.
POLISH YOUR WORK:
I will say it again... this is your first time presenting yourself as an artist! Take that extra time and ensure your work is polished and ready to hang. Are your pieces varnished? Are the sides painted? Do you need framing? Are all of your pieces signed? The last thing you want is for a potential customer to walk away because your artwork doesn’t look finished.
PACK UP FOR YOUR EVENT EARLY:
Don't wait till an hour before your event to start getting everything you need together for your show. I would say start a week before (I started packing up as I had things ready I put them in a pile to the side). Go back to those lists you made, check them twice or a million times more! You already have the nerves kicking in for your first event - make it easier on yourself and organize yourself early!
DRESS FOR SUCCESS:
Now I am not saying go get your best business attire for your event... I am saying take the time to plan an outfit that represents you and makes you feel confident. What does a showcase mean? It means something on display. You can't forget your art isn't the only one on display... you are too! People may disagree with me, but I believe once you become an artist you are building a brand and for people to take you seriously in the business world they need to believe in you too.
ENJOY YOUR EVENT & SMILE!
Last but not least... take a deep breath and enjoy yourself! You only have a first once, ya know! Before you know it you will blink and the experience of your first showcase will be gone. I was a nervous wreck, but once I started to see my friends and family there supporting me - I couldn't stop smiling at my event. I made a point to engage with the audience explaining my art and my passion to give them a better understanding of my work and answered any questions they had. I received so much love and support, feedback and future job opportunities that I will forever be grateful for.
Now I am not an expert on this subject I am just speaking from my experience and talking with other artist's. I only hope that I can help just a little in preparing for your first time. I learned so much from my first showcase and will forever be grateful for the experience. I am ready for the next one!