Your First Art Exhibition as a Professional Artist

Is your dream to be a professional artist who sells your art locally? Art exhibitions are a fantastic way to increase your profile and credibility as a professional artist, in your own hometown. And you don’t need to have a gallery to create one!Art Exhibition as a Professional Artist

Art exhibitions also offer exciting opportunities to connect with your community, sell your art locally, and provide an avenue for marketing your art.

That being said, a lot of work goes in behind the scenes when it comes to putting together a successful show on your own. If you’re considering putting together an exhibition to increase exposure of your work and to sell your art locally, keep reading.

Solo or Group Exhibiton?

The first thing you’ll need to consider is whether or not you want to curate a solo art exhibition or approach other professional artists and create a group exhibition. There are pros and cons for each option.

If you decide to take the solo route, you’ll generally be financing everything on your own. The upside of this is that you’ll have more space to show a full collection of your work and have complete control over every aspect of the exhibition.

But with a solo show, you’ll also need to market a bit harder to get people in the door.

If a group show is more your style, it’s quite common to share the costs of putting on an art exhibition between the artists. The great thing about group shows is that you’ll be gaining access to every artist’s fans and followers. This is a powerful way to dramatically increase new exposure to your work and potentially gain new fans.

Choosing a location

The next challenge when organizing your first art exhibition as a professional artist is the location. You’ll need to find a venue that’s accessible and affordable. When scouting for locations, think about the kind of audience you’re hoping to attract. You’ll want to choose a space that makes sense for your work and your ideal buyers.

Think beyond a typical gallery type location. Many professional artists get creative about space now, they show in empty shops, boutiques, warehouses, factories, libraries, restaurants, and community theatres.

If you have a large studio space, opening it up to the public is a budget-friendly option. And it has the “cool” factor too.

When selling your art locally, you might want to think about choosing a venue that’s close to public transport and is wheelchair accessible. These details matter.

Remember to factor in extra costs

Once you’ve chosen your venue, you’ll need to make sure you understand what facilities are offered.

Does the venue offer electricity, water, and air-conditioning? Is there a public toilet? Parking? Does the venue have insurance cover or will you need to get public liability insurance organized? What are all the associated costs with these facilities?

This is all important information to know upfront before you lock in your venue for your art exhibition.

Don’t forget about insuraning your work.

Another thing worth mentioning is talking to the venue about the actual content of the work in your show. Some venues have restrictions on showing nudity, for example. Sad but true. Make sure you’re upfront about the content you plan to exhibit.

Develop a theme for your art exhibition

This is the fun part! Once you’ve sorted out the logistics of putting on an art exhibition, now it’s time to get creative. As a professional artist, you’ll want to develop a theme and identity for your show.

If you decide to create a solo exhibition, it’s important to determine which pieces of art are your strongest and represent who you are as an artist right now. While it may be tempting to display your favorite pieces, if they don’t fit in with the rest of the show it’s best to keep them off the wall.

When it comes to putting on a group art exhibition, approach like-minded artists whose work complements yours. You can also put a call-out for submissions on artist opportunity platforms.

When selecting other artists to be a part of your exhibition, you’ll want to choose professional artists who are committed to the project. This means choosing artists who are willing to promote the show to their networks, help out with the exhibition installation, and generally work well in teams.

Artwork installation requires forethought

Once you’ve secured the location for your art exhibition, a good next step is to draw a plan of the space so you can start visualizing where each piece of art might fit best.

You don’t want to cram too many pieces close together, and you definitely want to make sure there’s enough room for exhibition visitors to walk around the space freely.

When making decisions about where to place each artwork, consider the overarching look and feel of the show. This is where things can get delicate with artist egos. If any of the artists in your show are trying to encroach on another artist’s space or make demands about where their artwork should be displayed, it’s important to be firm but fair early on.

Putting on an art exhibition is a group effort and putting on the best exhibition possible should be the goal of every artist involved in it.

Promoting your art exhibition

Finally, it’s time to promote your exhibition! Start with your immediate networks but don’t forget to branch out to the wider public as well. You might want to write a press release or invite some local gallerists and art collectors.

Don’t forget to take high-quality photographs of the artwork being displayed along with an artist bio for each artist you are showing.

Creating old-school flyers in another way to promote your art exhibition, as well as posting about it on social media.


Last Thoughts

Art exhibitions are a great way to increase your profile as a professional artist and sell your art locally. When it comes time for opening night make sure you enjoy yourself and take a moment to appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in! The moment you open those doors, you have already succeeded. The rest is the fun stuff


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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections. 

Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style. 

Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com

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