Saturday, July 27, 2013


"Melting", acrylic, 30 x 30 inches, c. 2013, by Sandra Hawkins.
From the Arctic Return  2013 - Ecology of Memory exhibition.
Getting ready for a painting and photography exhibition of one's art is more than creating the work. And if it's painting, it must be completed well in advance of hanging to allow time for drying, especially if its oil. And if its photography, allow time for the printing. The following to-do list gives insights to the wide range of skills required by the independent visual artist above and beyond the skills and knowledge required to create the artwork. 

Historically, many artists do not have the writing and oral skills to promote their art, nor the extravert personality. If they don't have a "champion(s)" (family, friend and/or arts professional) to do this for them, few attend the exhibition. The artist's career is constantly below the radar of public awareness reducing further opportunities. This may have nothing to do with the actual quality of the artwork being shown. Everything in the list below costs the artist money, above and beyond art production, for which they may or may not be compensated depending upon purchases made at the exhibition.
  1. Installation of appropriate hardware for hanging as per the unique requirements of the specific exhibition space.
  2. If framing, selection of frames and mats that will enhance visual cohesion of the overall exhibition.
  3. Write artist/exhibition statement and the artist bio.
  4. Prepare a list of art being shown: Title, Medium, Year, Dimensions, Price.
  5. From this list, prepare exhibition labels to be place beside each work.
  6. Design and produce exhibition invitations in digital format for printing.
  7. Design and write exhibition catalogue in digital format for printing.
  8. Research professional printers for the best price and quality, provide them with a digital file, review a proof, and pick-up the final work.
  9. Prepare invitation list making sure to include individuals and corporations who have shown interest in previous exhibitions. This is the value of have a guest book that has a column for contact information.
  10. Write exhibition announcement for media, and distribute according to their deadlines, Eg. Magazines, 1 - 2 months in advance. This requires research.
  11. Create a Facebook event, blog or other that has "public" visibility to reach a wider audience.
  12. Obtain media interviews regarding the exhibition for yourself, or for someone knowledgable about the art to be shown.
  13. Package the artwork and arrange for transporting and unloading at the exhibition site.
  14. With an exhibition theme already established, arrange the selected artworks on the floor if the exhibition space where they will be hung.
  15. Hang the artwork according to the gallery's rules.
  16. Adjust the lighting so that each artwork has a crescent of light just above.
  17. Prepare reception food and beverages, or have it catered. Few artists can afford the latter. If serving alcohol in a public space, a license must be obtained at least 2 weeks in advance.
  18. Prepare for an artist talk, including a powerpoint slide presentation if possible.
  19. Throughout and following the exhibition seek feedback as to visitor comments and interest in purchasing. 
  20. While visual artists don't charge an entrance fee the way a musician or actor would, they are dependent on sales of their artwork. Although a visitor may not make a purchase, their knowledge of your work may lead to future sales from them or their contacts.


  1. Thanks for this most helpful list. Also a reminder there is always so much to do after making the commitment to exhibit.

  2. Hi Lesley. Yes, and yet I feel a responsibility to provide the opportunity for others to share it. Judging from written guest book comments, my art is resonating with people, and that makes the work of the exhibition worthwhile.

  3. The list provided in this business art training post are most helpful to painters who are under training.

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