Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tips Part 1. Successful Art Openings.


Every day is a school day, and this week we are sharing some of the things we have learnt since we have been artists and more recently gallery owners.

Marcia is an experienced artist with a whole gamut of shows under her belt and shares some tips on exhibiting!

Tips for Successful Art Openings"I’ve written some of my thoughts in regards to Exhibition openings. Some of it relates directly to Red Brick and how you can make a Red Brick exhibition work best, but I think most of it can be applied to all exhibitions. For some of you what I have written will be obvious, for others it will be the information you have been waiting for. Some of you will disagree with what I have written and that’s OK.

I certainly don’t claim my thoughts to be the only way to approach exhibiting and there is much more to think about and do for a successful opening than what I’ve included here. However, now I’m an owner of a gallery I want to help break down the barriers between the gallery owner and the artist. I want to pass on the information to help artists exhibit and have a successful exhibition and I figured this was a good place to start.

An art opening at an art gallery is always a momentous occasion. The atmosphere is festive; the art is fresh and new. Everyone from the artist to the gallery owner is optimistic about the prospects for healthy sales and favorable reviews. In a sense, the art will never look as good as it does during its opening, and as such, this particular circumstance always represents an opportunity for significant advancement in an artist's career.

A successful art opening creates a buzz in the art community, not only about the art and the artist, but also about the gallery. The better the opening, the more people talk; word spreads and subsequent attendance at the show increases. And we all know that the more people who see the art, the greater the chances of making sales. With these facts in mind, the following pointers are designed to make your openings successful in terms of publicity, attendance, and sales.

The best way to make your art opening work for you is to create, in advance, a level of anticipation that encourages as many people to come and see your art as possible. Craft a compelling announcement or press release, disseminate it as widely within the art and general community as possible-- typically at online art and event websites-- and make sure that everyone sees it in plenty of time to make plans to attend your show. This announcement should be clearly written (so that ordinary people can understand it) and contain two to three paragraphs of two to three sentences each-- nothing more-- keep it simple. In addition to events websites, email it to relevant local arts organizations, newspapers that list local events, and any local radio or TV stations or shows that regularly cover on local arts and culture happenings (including community access channels).

Red Brick will send press releases to local newspapers, register your events on community event pages and publicize your show on face book, blogs, through newsletters and the website. But follow up all these avenues personally as well. Submit your own press releases to the local paper, they sometimes respond much better to an artist than the gallery itself. Send your CV and artist statement to Red Brick as early as you can. The sooner we have this information the sooner we can promote you. We send information weeks in advance to some places in the hope that your show might fit into a special event planned or it suits a topic they are exploring within their publication.

People love pictures, being an artist myself and one who does a lot of work right near the deadline I can understand you may not have a lot of images to send, but as soon as you have them even 2 or 3, send them to the gallery, include them with the press releases you send out. People may love a picture we post of your work and this may encourage them to come to the opening or even purchase your work. Press publications also like to put a face to a story, provide images of yourself also! The more of the work you do, the more likely it is that your exhibition will grab the attention of the media and potential guests for your opening!

Tell us about your accomplishments, this is your time to dig deep and find some inner courage and talk about yourself or write about yourself which is what I find easier. The more we know about you leading up to and during your exhibition the better we can help sell your work and promote you as an artist. I have been caught out a few times where customers have asked me questions about exhibiting artists but I don’t know the answers, this is because Artists can be shy and a bit aloof. We understand you are shy and may have trouble discussing your work but try and at least share your ideas and thoughts with the gallery owners, if they know the answers they may be able to do the hard work for you. But share and share openly, don’t make it hard and don’t wait for lots of questions from the gallery.

Also get to know and schmooze media people like critics or art writers, no matter how small or insignificant their publications or websites or how much you disagree with their views. You want your shows to be reviewed, so make sure you know your local reviewers and chat them up at your opening. Publicity is always good, no matter where it appears or what it says. When someone writes about you, that means you're worth writing about.

Make sure all art is priced and the gallery has your price list early.

Make sure you consider the galleries commission before pricing and include that in your price. During your exhibition make sure your resume and prices are visible and within easy reach of anyone who wants to learn more about you and your art. Always include the title, size, medium and price on your price list. Some people want to know if it’s going to fit their walls.

Some more tips....

1. ALWAYS sign your work, it shows a level of pride, ownership but also adds value to your work.

2. Label your work accurately. If you are exhibiting prints, that’s fine but include 'digital print' for example in the description. The buyer is less likely to want your piece if you say it’s pencil in the description but it’s really a digital print. People will lean more commonly to original one off pieces when buying but will often buy prints if it’s clearly stated and that print is editioned.

3. Take pride in the presentation of your work. That doesn’t mean always professionally framing work etc, it just means really look at it before putting it on the wall. Make sure there’s no hair under the glass (been there lol)... make sure the image sits in the frame nicely. Make sure it’s ready to hang, not just for the galleries sake but for the purchaser sake. Wire on the back through two eyelet’s on either side of the frame is the best way to prepare your work for hanging. Even if you are using cute little ‘found’ frames... put wire on the back. Those tiny little clips on the back just don’t really work and make it hard to hang.

Art buyers who see an artist's work for the first time and who like it would rather review prices and career accomplishments in private than ask about them. First, they want to decide whether they can afford the art. Those who can afford it and who are impressed by your resume will then speak with you, your agent or the gallery owners.

Be on time to your opening.Your visitors are your customers, you are hosting this party so be there to welcome your guests. Create atmosphere, complimentary drinks and nibbles need not be expensive but can make the difference between securing a sale or not. Also think about how you wish your guests to feel about your work, would a musician or playlist help create that?

Be available to speak with anyone who shows any level of interest in your art. Don't make yourself difficult to access by surrounding yourself with friends and acquaintances; you can see them anytime. The new people-- the first timers-- these are the ones who you should be talking to. The better people understand your art and the deeper the connection they feel to you, the more inclined they are to buy. So get out there and mingle.

By the way, walking up and introducing yourself to someone who's seriously studying your prices or looking at your art is perfectly acceptable, but be sensitive to the viewers and be careful not to overstay your welcome.

Also make sure that everyone selling your art has been briefed on your career, has access to your resume, can speak knowledgeably about your selling prices, and can refer to your past sales, successful shows, names of people or institutions that already own your art, and similar hard art market facts.

Now get out there and make a name for yourself!

- Marce