How to Prepare for an Art Exhibition -Step by Step

Getting prepared for an exhibition of your artwork depends obviously on the type of venue and contract you have with the gallery. This step-by-step-guide assumes that you have to do EVERYTHING yourself. Just in case…

photo credit: Robert Mapplethorpe Exhibition by Robert Marin

Before the show:

  • find a place to exhibit your work
  • choose a date
  • measure the place
  • decide how many paintings you want to show
  • choose a title for the exhibition
  • select the paintings you want to show
  • make sure the paintings are ready for exhibiting. (Do they need frames? Do they need color around the edges? Do they want to be varnished? Are they signed? Are they ready for hanging?)
  • take professional photographs of each artwork (maybe also some close-ups and photos of the paintings in your living room)
  • optimize the photos for use on social media and in print. For print you want high resolution and best quality, for use on different social media channels you need smaller sizes and a variety of different formats.
  • tag all photos with metadata
  • create a sheet with your photos and additional information like: artist, title, year, size, medium, retail price, commission etc.
  • create Certificates of Authenticity for all the artworks
  • engage musician(s) and a lecturer for the opening of the exhibition. Do you need people to help with catering?
  • decide the information on the invitation card. You want to showcase at least one artwork, obviously also the title, date and place of the exhibition, and all information about the opening (where, when, who is talking, who is playing music). How long will the exhibition last and when are the opening hours of the exhibition space?
  • brief the lecturer so he can prepare his speech
  • design the invitation card and send out to printer
  • write and send out press release.
  • start social media campaign by posting photos of your artwork regularly
  • make sure your address lists are up to date
  • send out invitation cards
  • send out a first digital invitation via email, Facebook, Xing and LinkedIn
  • send out a reminder to all these channels one week before the show
  • engage a photographer for the exhibition
  • create gallery labels
  • prepare handouts like pricelists, C.V., business cards
  • do you want to have a guestbook for the event?
  • don’t forget to buy red dots
  • start preparing the opening (drinks, glasses, snacks…)
  • do the walls need a bit of renovating between the shows?
  • wrap your paintings carefully to get ready for transport
  • hang paintings and fix labels
  • adjust the lighting
  • post photos of all last preparations on all social media channels with a reminder
  • welcome your guests and enjoy the show

During the show:

Make sure the following things are accessible

  • sales agreements (paying in installments, leasing, test and buy)
  • receipts
  • bubble wrap
  • certificates
  • red dots
  • artist’s folder
  • guestbook and pen
  • lists to sign into for future email invitations

After the show:

  • write personal thank you letter to all guests
  • thank you posts with plenty of photos on all social media channels
  • send out artist’s folders with certificates to buyers
  • all email contacts who have been invited get information about the success of the show (with photos)
  • keep all visitors updated with new works and exhibitions at least twice a year

Did I forget something? Please let me know.


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