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The Artistic Guide to Planning and Nailing Your Art Exhibition: From Vision to Opening Day

Welcome, fellow artists, to the ultimate guide on planning and executing a remarkable art exhibition that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. Whether you're a seasoned exhibitor or embarking on your very first showcase, this blog post is your go-to resource for turning your artistic vision into a reality. We'll walk you through each step of the exhibition planning process, from concept to opening night - and offer some new things to think about.

Alice Berry at her 2019 exhibition opening 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in a custom dress to match the fun vibrant art

Nail Your Vision:

  • Get crystal clear on the concept and theme of your exhibition.
  • Set goals and objectives to guide your exhibition planning. Do you want to hit a certain sales target, increase customer reach, etc
  • Consider a group show - this can take the pressure off you to handle everything on your own, and helps share the costs.

What’s Your Budget:

  • Set a budget and stick to it
  • Allocate rough costs to things like, marketing, promo and artwork materials and opening night.
  • Consider your costs when pricing your artwork. You want to cover your costs and make a profit. Don’t forget the gallery commission.

Time it Right:

  • Map out a timeline for each stage, including prep, marketing, and the grand opening.
  • Give yourself enough time for creating art, printing, framing, and potential collaborations.

Jen Sievers in her studio working on her exhibition 'Goddess Rising', 2019

Find the Perfect Spot:

  • Approach galleries where you can imagine your work sitting alongside their existing collection nicely. 
  • Think about a gallery's audience and if that is one you want to target with your work. 
  • Scout out alternative venues - it can be fun to look at more unconventional spaces, but factor in the cost and the extra marketing you’ll need to reach a wider audience.

Collaborate and Connect:

  • Seek out collaborations with local businesses, art organizations, or sponsors to amplify your exhibition's visibility.
  • Explore joint events, cross-promotion opportunities, or hosting artist talks/workshops.

Make the Art:

  • Curate a collection that showcases your theme and artistic style.
  • Ensure your artwork is professionally presented, framed, and ready to wow.
  • Allow time for any touch-ups, repairs, or varnishing, as well as fine art printing and framing.

Jodi Clark's studio filled with paintings for her 2020 exhibition 'Modern Modernism'

Spread the Word:

  • Create a marketing plan to drum up buzz and attract art lovers.
  • Design eye-catching posters or flyers that show off your art and exhibition deets.
  • Use social media to promote the event and provide sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes footage, and updates.

Content Creativity:

  • Share your creative process on social media through captivating posts or short videos. 
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the BTS tease, people love exclusive content
  • Blog about your inspiration, techniques, and the challenges you faced during exhibition prep.
  • Craft artist statements or descriptions for each artwork, giving viewers a deeper connection.
  • Conduct artist interviews or create video profiles to introduce yourself and your artistic practice.

Opening Night:

  • Plan out the logistics, food, beverages, music, catalogues, photographers
  • Use the opening night as an opportunity to start or add to your customer database by asking people to sign up for a newsletter.
  • Craft a memorable opening speech or presentation that captures the essence of your exhibition and shows gratitude to all attendees and supporters.
  • Enjoy the night, this is what you’ve been working towards and you did it.

Guests enjoying the art at Lucy Davidson's exhibition opening for 'Out/lines', 2019

Engage and Entertain:

  • Encourage guests to share their experience on social media using a dedicated hashtag.
  • Provide info cards or brochures about yourself, your artwork, and how visitors can purchase or commission your work.

Follow-Up and Reflect:

  • Send thank-you emails to attendees, collaborators, and supporters. Share a blog post of images from opening night and a reminder of when the show closes.
  • Evaluate the success of your exhibition by gathering feedback, reviewing sales data, social media engagement, and media coverage.
  • Learn from the experience and make adjustments or improvements for future exhibitions.

Feel free to personalise and adapt this template to match your own style and preferences. Planning and executing an art exhibition can be an exciting adventure, and with careful preparation, you'll showcase your artwork, engage your audience and sell out an exhibition!