16. Your first solo show

Sell! Or sell out… an Artists guide to promotion.

16. Your first solo show.


At last you are having your first solo show, you are excited, the work is great but what’s going to happen? What can you control and what do you need to know.

Well firstly if you are represented by a gallery they will tell you what to do and when, if they don’t chat to them about what they want you to do and make a list for yourself and follow it.

If however you are having a solo show where you hire the space, there is a lot to consider and you should develop a solid plan of action to make sure you do enough of the right things to make the occasion a success.

  1. Create a calendar then create a plan – You may have a few months to the exhibition, so gab a calendar and check out how far away it is, then jot down as many things you can think of you might need to do. From here make a plan of action seeing what needs to be done first.
  2. Do research – A quick search on the computer will give you access to a range of information and articles on planing and exhibition, try an Art Forum, membership is often free and you can ask experts who have been there and done that what they did, do and the pitfalls to watch out for.
  3. Create a budget – Yes MONEY is involved costs for invites catering and adverts to name a few, so create a budget and stick to it.
  4. Market it well – Let the world know, but in a way that suits your budget, identify carefully who you want to target and how you will get them to notice your exhibition, art magazine adverts can soon add up, so can other costs for marketing.
  5. Invite the right people – Make a great list of people you want to share your first show with, often the first show is rarely a selling show but more to the point your entrée to the art world, a “look out world here I come” statement. Therefore it’s okay to invite friends and family and treat it as a celebration, if however you are confident the works will sell, figure out who you can invite who might be in a position to purchase works.
  6. Make sure the gallery is sorted – The deposit is paid, the transport of your work is organised, the hanging and placement of the works is sorted out in advance where possible, the hardware and tools you need or organised and assistants are there if you need them to hang work etc. If you are organising some catering, make sure it is planned well, if you need permits to serve alcohol then get it well in advance.
  7. Keep yourself “Nice” – At the event opening you want to make sure you “behave yourself” the temptation to perhaps have a few drinks before the event to build some courage, or to have a few too many at the opening. You may think you are ok but it’s not good to upset people or put them off your work due to how you act, so keep yourself nice… (Trust me on this one it will get you in the end…)
  8. Be organised with the sales – Who handles the sales? The gallery? You? a friend? Make sure this is settled early and well organised so there are as few hiccups as possible.
  9. Be there – During the show you should consider making yourself available so you can chat to viewers if they have any questions about the works. If this happens on the weekend so be it. If you are showing in a well known space ask them about how many people go through a show and pick the busiest days to be there.

It’s your first show so enjoy the process as much as you can, you have done the work, built the confidence so you deserve to make it work for you as best possible.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray Contemporary Visual Artist © 2009+ If you want to see more articles like this as they are published subscribe!


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