Calling All Artists! Tips For Planning Gallery Shows On A Budget

Its tough being an artist. Especially when you're trying to establish yourself and get known. Perhaps you have reached out to some galleries or restaurants to represent your work. Perhaps you are even hosting an event at your home, trying to promote your work to friends and family. Getting everything in order efficiently, productively AND on a budget isn't easy! But don’t worry, we got your back. Here are 7 simple tips to make the process of organizing an art show a breeze.


1. STAY ORGANIZED


I cannot emphasize this enough. We constantly encounter frantic artists who come in at the last moment trying to scrap things together to make it work. Often times, they come in too late and we may not have the specific materials they envisioned encasing their work. They get frustrated, though we try to accommodate them the best we can. However, no matter what frame shop you go to, give yourself AT LEAST 2 weeks time before the event to get everything framed. Often times the frame shop needs to order the materials, so they need some advance notice. Refrain from putting yourself in that situation if you don’t have to. Please. This will reduce a significant amount of stress on you and the framer.


Make a list of all the pieces that you will have on display. It also wouldn't hurt to make sure the gallery or event host signs a sheet of paper that itemizes all the pieces you will be leaving on display so you have proof that you left the art there. We have heard many a horror story about stolen art and artists not paid their fare share. WATCH OUT!


It is also crucial to have everything on a timeline. Get a calendar and map out what you need to do in order to get ready for the big day. Order cards, write art anecdotes, a mini biography about yourself. Set the time aside so you aren’t in a mad dash at the last moment.


2. MAKE PRINTS OF ORIGINAL WORK & SIGN THEM


All too often at shows, customers love the art, but don’t love the price. Some people simply cannot afford it, and others just don’t want to pay the price. Instead of losing the sale all together, it is better to monetize 4-8 people willing to pay $80 for a signed Artists Proof print opposed to no one wanting to pay $800 for an original piece. And of course, you would rather sell the original. But having product for a wide array of people to purchase is always a smart thing to do. That way, the whole show isn't a bust and you make some money and get your name out there. #feelsgoodman


3. MAT & SHRINK WRAP PRINTS


Taking your print or photographs to get matted and shrink wrapped is very inexpensive compared to getting the full custom framing package. You can still sell them at an affordable price while keeping the profit margins high. It also offers the customers value because they have the freedom to choose a frame they prefer that will fit their space, while having the mounting and matting of the art already done. Its a win win.


4. WORK A DEAL WITH YOUR LOCAL FRAME SHOP


Contact local frame shops and see what kind of incentives you can get for sending people their way. Ask for business cards, write your name on them, and ask them if you send customers who show that card at the time of purchase, can those customers get an additional discount? Will you then, in turn, be able to get better deals on things you bring them to frame? It is definitely worth a shot. All they can do is say no, but chances are, most will work some kind of deal with you.


5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON FRAMING


This is crucial. Don’t just call one shop and settle for that price. Ask around. Test the waters. Ask if some places will price match. I would personally recommend you don’t waste your time at a big box store. They drive the prices up so high and then offer a 70% discount. THAT IS NOT A DEAL. Don’t be fooled. Often times, you will find significantly better deals at a local frame shop. They will also be more accommodating and more helpful if you are trying to reach a deadline. Many local shops will also be more inclined to give you some type of a discount if you are framing a relatively large body of work. Some places also deliver.


6. RE-USING FRAMES


This especially works if you are a photographer. Say you have 10 prints that are 18 x 24. You do a show, a few sell, others don’t. You can take the frames you already have to your local frame shop and swap the art out. BOOM, fresh work! Swapping the art out is super cheap. You can also go thrifting for frames that your local frame shop can cut down to fit your art. It all depends on how much money you want to save, and how resourceful can you be.


7. PROPERLY CARING FOR YOUR FRAMES


FACE TO FACE, BACK TO BACK. That’s what we always say when we are helping customers put art in their car. Usually, the piece is wrapped in brown craft paper and taped in the front. Make sure the fronts are facing each other so the hanging hardware doesn’t scratch and gouge your new frame! Super important. I can’t tell you how many times this happens.


When you are storing the art, using old towels or blankets to put between them is also great to preserve the integrity of the frame. Make sure to take good care of the frames you buy, cause most of the time they aren’t cheap, and who wants to buy them again if you don’t have to? I totally understand the artists budget, and if you can help it, preserve the frames you buy. It will save you a ton down the road.


I sincerely hope this was helpful! Now go out there and kick some ass!




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