It’s show season. I have been managing shows for nearly 40 years; for my former gallery and for various non-profits including Arizona Artists Guild, Shemer Art Center, and Arizona Art Alliance to name a few.  My experiences in organizing shows is wide ranging. It includes conceiving thematic exhibiitons, marketing, jurying, and curating.  Each show has its own challenges based on space limitations, hanging systems, and location etc.

Over the years I have witnessed common mistakes by artist when dropping artwork off to an exhibition.  Here are a few of the more common mistakes by artists that occur that are easy to rectify,.

  1. Professionally label your work:
    Be sure to clearly label your art, be it neatly printed by hand or machine.
    Inclue the following:
    Your name as you refer to yourself professionally.
    Your contact details: phone number, email address, website and social media if you use it.
    Title of the piece
    priceYou do this because:
    A.  it makes it easy for the show coordinator to identify your work, or contact you if you forget to retrieve your work at the end of the show.
    B. If someone buys your work they know who you are and how to find you if they want to acquire more.
  1. Clean your artwork – front and back – prior to delivery. 
    This shows respect for your art, for the show organizers, and the venue.  Often shows are run by overworked volunteers who have their hands full installing the art let alone cleaning the artwork.
  1. Use your Calendar as an essential tool to keep you organized.
    Once you commit to entering a show, mark your calendar with the deadlines so you don’t miss the deadline.  Once accepted, add the drop-off and pick-up dates and time to your calendar.  Be sure to set reminders.
    Don’t wait until the last minute to make alternate arrangements if you are not available during the designated times for drop-off or pick-up.  Generally, organizers are flexible if given advance notice and are asked politely.
  1. Thank the show coordinators for their efforts. 
    Appreciation goes a long way, especially if volunteers are overstretched.
  1. Attend the Reception and Any Other Events Associated with the Show.
    It is so discouraging to host an exhibition and then the artists don’t show up for the opening of the show.  And while you are there, look at the art.  Engage other artists in conversation about their work. I recently attended an opening reception where all the people filled the center of the gallery space and no one was looking at the art. Everyone had fun, but the art was neglected.

It’s wonderful to see the breadth of artistic expression and skill as I process entries and prepare work for the jurors’ difficult task of selecting the work.  And then to finally install the selected pieces and stand back to see it all come together is so rewarding.  It’s a partnership between us, each of us doing our part, and when that comes together, it is fabulous.    Hopefully you find these tips helpful as you prepare for future shows.