• Hannah Ghafary

Things You Need to Know Before Your First Public Art Exhibition

As many of you may know, at the end of April, I participated in the the Annual Wesleyan Artist Market. This was my first opportunity to publicly sell my work as a professional artist, and it was an amazing learning experience. Markets and galleries present artists with networking opportunities and a chance to build your customer base and following. My next upcoming show is the Art House Pop-Up Market is November 2nd, and, in honor of that, I’ve decided to share some tips for other young artists looking to enter markets and galleries. Here’s what I wish I knew before my first public art exhibition:


Plan

Upon acceptance to a market or gallery, you’ll likely be provided with the dimensions of your booth or space to fill. You can use this to predict how many pieces or how much inventory you will need to bring. For the Wesleyan Artist Market in April, I made a schedule covering the months up until the art show with objectives to complete each week in order to be prepared. It saved me a ton of last-minute stress!


Network

Every single person in this environment can be a potential business connection! Grow your connections in the art community by befriending your market “neighbors” and fellow artists. Many markets and shows have repeat customers and art collectors; these people can become loyal customers through the years or present you with commission opportunities outside of the event.


Be Professional

Handle yourself professionally, because your reputation could follow you to future fairs, galleries, and events! Be on time, be present and engage. Talk to customers and fellow artists. Try to stay in your booth as much as possible!


Pay Attention

Another important reason to stay close to your booth is that these events provide business owners and artists with an amazing opportunity to get know their audience firsthand. What kinds of customers stop at your booth? Who slows down to look as they pass? How old are they? Are they primarily male or female? Take note of these things, and use it to better cater to your audience and customer-base in the future!


Know About the Space You’re Working With

Before the event, make sure that your work is ready to hang. Rules and requirements of how to hang your works will also vary from venue to venue, so make sure you’re prepared. In your booth or space, create an open layout so that customers feel welcome; don’t allow your chair or workspace to obstruct your artwork. Bonus: If you have the funds, lighting can add a professional, upscale gallery touch to your booth.


Vary the Work You Bring

Bringing a bunch of work that all looks the same won’t have appeal to a wide range of buyers. Bring an array of artwork in terms of theme, size, price points to get the best results in terms of sales.


Invite Everyone

Share information with your follows about your events, beforehand and during, on social media! Instagram even provides the option for your followers to sign up to be notified before the event, so take advantage of these tools. Before the Wesleyan Artist Market, I sent out handwritten notes to a select group of friends, family, and frequent customers inviting them to attend the event and show me support. If they are unable to attend, they may find other ways to show you support, such as purchasing something from your website or spreading the word about your event!


Offer Gift Wrapping Options

Offering customers giftwrapping can be a thoughtful and appealing touch. If it’s the holiday season, Valentine’s day, or graduation season, this will be especially important!


Bring Business Cards

Bring anything you have to give customers and potential networking connections something to remember you by. Business cards are great, but don’t be afraid to get creative! Stickers with your logo on them are awesome because they’re free promo. Whether you use cards, stickers or buttons, throw them in with purchases and give them out to prospective customers.

Prepare a Pitch

In your booth, you will be interacting with customers for hours, so you should be ready to talk about yourself and your art! I would recommend that you prepare a short “pitch” to tell customers and passersby in a polished way. You could refer to your artist statement to inspire your pitch!


Show Up with Something to Work On

Bringing artwork to markets or fairs can make a drastic difference in the number of customers who stop to look in your booth. Much like time-lapse art videos you may see on your Instagram timeline, many people find it inspiring and oddly satisfying to watch a work coming together in real life. Not to mention, eight hours in a six foot booth can be tragically boring, so, bringing work helps to pass the time in productive way.


If you or someone you know is preparing to exhibit their artwork soon, I hope you found these tips helpful. And, if you are reading this, this is your personal invitation to the Arthouse Pop Up Market on November 2! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Arthouse, Arthouse is a community started by young creatives which strives to create a platform for young artists looking for their place in the Atlanta art scene. Dubbed a “Kaleidoscope of Culture” by VoxATL, what makes Arthouse truly unique is its combination of visual artists and musical artists. Across the city, they’ve hosted art shows and pop-up galleries filled with music and artwork that young crowds flock to.


So come see for yourself and join me on November 2, 2019 from 8:00 to midnight at 828 Ralph McGill Boulevard Northeast in Atlanta. There will be food vendors, music, a photo booth, and, of course, lots of good art to see. I hope to see you there!

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