A very emerging artist's guide to putting on an art show

  1. Make art.  Daily. Be prolific. Make it for the process- not all of it will be fit to show, but it will all be of value.
  2. Share your work.  Use social media and all the hashtags - instagram's the best for this.  After you share yours, follow and genuinely support other artists.  
  3. Make artist friends.  Go to their openings, check out their shows. Share their shows on social media.
  4. Find out who the curators are. Get to know them.  Submit to calls for art.  An offer to show will come your way (be prolific, share your work, make connections).
  5. Confirm a show date. Make more work.  Try different themes, subjects and approaches if you have the freedom to do so, or turn your focus to specific show themes/ mediums/ subjects.

    A couple weeks/days before the show
  6. Edit down your work.  Look for emergent themes.  If it's a solo show, think of a title.  Don't try to be too clever.
  7. If possible, scan your paperworks so you won't have to deal with trying to document them after they're behind glass.
  8. Start collecting frames.  If you've got a bit of a budget, support your local framer - chances are they'll have discounts for artists, and they will have to know-how to make your pieces shine.  If your budget's more miniscule like mine, hit up local thrift shops and look for the best quality frames that have been donated - you might have to visit more than one shop to find enough frames. Keep your standards high. Another option is Ikea. Their Ribba series is classic. Either way, make sure to check the glass for chips and scratches. When you get home with your frames, clean both sides of the glass.
  9. Start framing.  I discard any mats that come with the frames because there's no guarantee that it's acid free.  Since I don't own a mat cutter and my Bainbridge cutting days ended with architecture school, I use cold pressed watercolour paper as a background and float my pieces on top (purchase some archival acid-free tape).  I trust my eye to get things centered, but use my drafting triangles to make sure things are level.
  10. Lay all the pieces out and start grouping and arranging them.
  11. Record the dimensions of each piece and think of titles and prices.  Create a price list.
  12.  Document each piece if you haven't already.  Take shots of the pieces on their own, and with props for styled shots to share on social media.
  13. Get social.  You'll need graphics for a facebook (make an event for the show opening/ closing), instagram/twitter, and a hardcopy poster. Get business cards made to leave at the venue.  Decide if postcards are worth while.  Beyond your social circle, make sure your invitations get to everyone you'd like to see your work: gallery owners, curators, fellow artists, editors...
  14. Visit your venue to familiarize yourself with their hanging system and gather the appropriate tools. If you're unsure ask the curator.

    The day before:
  15. Pack up your pieces.  I use cheap kraft paper or newsprint in between each piece to prevent scratching.
  16. Pack the gear you'll need for hanging: nails, hammer, level, glass cleaner, HB pencil, camera, tripod.
  17. Print your poster and price list
  18. Write out this guide as a means of trying not to forget anything crucial. Rest a bit.  Think or sketch out pieces you'd like to make but are currently too tired to do so. Be proud of the work you've done.

My latest series Small Worlds goes up at the Manx tomorrow.  Very excited, very tired.

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