Just think of it…

an entire gallery full of your artworks with crowds of people looking at them admiringly and ready to part with a sizable amount of cash to take them back to their own homes. Does this sound like a dream? Does this sound like something you would like to do? If the little superstar in your head is now screaming ‘Yes, Yes, Yes!!!’ then read on.

In this series of articles on setting up and running your first art exhibition we dive into all the stuff we need to think about before we pop the cork on the champagne and declare the exhibition open. We get the hard decisions out of the way up front so that you’ll know up front that you have a better chance of success.

This series contains the combined knowledge of my wife and myself (we are both artists and creativity professionals) about organising and running art exhibitions. We’ve run many art shows, some fantastically successful where hundreds of people turned up and bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of art, and some where the profit we received was in the education we gained of how to be smarter the next time. We learnt on our feet just by getting out there and doing it, and hopefully I can now save you some time (not to mention thousands of $$$) as you head towards your glorious exhibition opening night!

You’ve made the decision, you’re strapped in, ready for blast off, fame and fortune awaits. “Come on Stuart, get me to the good stuff now (and quickly!)” I hear you say.

Hold on there cowboy! We’ve got to touch base with reality for just a little while longer before you head for the stratosphere.

Let’s get the hard stuff out of the way first!

Before you waste any more time and money on this whole crazy scheme you need to dig deep and discover:

and once you’ve completely banished any self doubt and are convinced of your genius we ask the obvious question:

Even though as an artist you sometimes like to hide away, lost in your own wonderful world of creativity, at some stage you’ll have to emerge and find real people to invite to your art exhibition in order that they can buy the wonderful things that you make, so you’d better discover:

and if you’re still lounging on the couch thinking about creating all that art for your night of art fame and stardom then actually booking a venue and setting a time and date for your exhibition might be a good way to get you motivated, so head on over to:

On opening night you need some important people to come along and sing your praises to everyone else so…

and don’t forget you’ll need some other people to come along and fill the room, preferably with cash or credit card in hand, so you will need to know:

Once you’ve got everyone at your exhibition you don’t want to miss a single opportunity so you might need some tips on:

Just in case there is absolutely anything I have forgotten in the above then make sure you read:

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  1. Amelia says:

    After reading the tips on your website I ran my own art show for one day out of my house and made $700+ !(pretty good for someone just out of highschool) I used the ‘favorite’s list’ technique and it was a major success. I also asked how they found out about the show so I could learn what advertising techinques are worth my time and money. Thanks for your great tips and sense of humor!

  2. Alex says:

    Hi, I am Alex. I am a student from De Anza College. I am now working on an exhibition for fund raising to the Oxfam America. However, I am kind of stuck so I would like to ask for so professional advice like yours. Would you mind to share me some by e-mail? I am looking forward to seeing your reply. Thank you

  3. Siobhan Smith says:

    Hi,
    I know a million of people have said it, but I’m saying it again – fantastic article. You’ve written it in a way which is easily understandable, interesting and just all round brilliant.
    Thank you!!!

    P.S: How long would you recommend a exhibit should run for? (Eg a week?) And would you recommended a closing night as well? (I was originally thinking, a week long exhibit with a do on the last night, and having one piece on auction through out the week (as well as other items for sale))…I didn’t even think of an opening night! Any help would be MOST appreciated!
    Thanks again :)

    • Stuart says:

      Thanks for your kind words.
      I’ve run exhibitions for up to a month, and some short ‘pop up’ ones just for a weekend.
      A week at least in a good gallery would be minimum, but I’ve found its usually two.
      (people like to visit and then return later to buy… too short a time and your art will be gone before they return)
      It all depends on where it is and how many people you expect to attend and whether the location will get ongoing traffic during the exhibition run.
      Never done a closing night though. That might be depressing if you havent sold much! ;)
      but of course if the exhibition was a big success then it would be a fun celebration (but it would be an extra expense).
      Auction.. might be interesting too… as long as you can get decent bids.
      otherwise it could affect your pricing negatively.
      Whatever you do try to presell some art BEFORE the exhibition so that you have some big red dots on artworks as soon as the exhibition opens.
      Everyone knows that big red dot are important. ;)
      See
      http://creativitypro.com/find-a-famous-friend-to-open-your-exhibition
      http://creativitypro.com/how-to-have-a-massive-art-exhibitionopening-night
      and maybe
      http://creativitypro.com/how-to-build-a-marketing-list-at-your-exhibition

  4. Siobhan Smith says:

    Haha, that is true – what a rubbish party that would be!!!!! Opening night it is :)
    Thanks so much Stuart, I’ve already read all your articles, so defiantly back to the drawing board. But you’ve given me a good boost of motivation and all your ideas are excellent (mini art portfolio and the 5 card trick – genius) It’s really great to find some decent advice,
    :)

  5. Tim says:

    I’ve been thinking of doing a show. I had no idea how to get started. Thank you for all of the information you have shared. I feel much more confident in moving forward.
    I have to admit that I am one that tends to like to hide behind my photographs.

  6. mack says:

    If you work in a variety of media and they all are show worthy quality can you show a variety of your artwork or should you stick with showing one type of media at a time. Ex. all oil paintings, or all sculpture/installations, or all printmaking.

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