As an artist working in a digital platform, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “do I need to do traditional gallery shows still?”
The short of it is it can still be very beneficial for your career to get out there, meet people face-to-face, and sell your art directly to your collectors. There are so many ways for you to showcase your work that doesn’t necessarily involve a gallery. The main nugget to keep in mind is that it needs to be a good fit for your work and the people showing up are your type of buyers.
5 perks of art shows
An art show can be anything from a local art fair, to a pop-up one night event, to a solo gallery show. Basically any place where you have your work up for sale for a limited time. And with this diversity of options comes a wide range of opportunities.
Make sales in person. Buying art is an emotional purchase so if you are able to talk with an interested buyer face-to-face to explain your inspiration and meaning behind a piece, you could swing them to buy it. If they like you as well as your art, it helps to make that sale.
Fresh eyes. If you are showing with multiple artists, or at an art fair, you have the opportunity to get new fans that weren’t even looking for your work. If you are working with a gallery, the gallerist could open up doors to high end collectors that you would normally not have access to.
Experience for your CV if you would like to pursue showing in larger galleries and spaces. Also, the process of getting a show together, creating your artist statement, and talking about your work to interested buyers all takes lots of practice.
Limited time creates urgency. When you show at a gallery, it is usually for about a month with an opening and sometimes closing reception. With pop-ups and art fairs, it’s only one or two days. This could incentivize fans of your work who have been on the fence about buying to finally pull the trigger. Also, this is a great reason to offer discounts to your existing fan base with an email promo and social blast.
Buyers know what they are getting. Many buyers like to see what they are buying in person when it comes to art; especially high priced work. Seeing the finished piece in person will pacify warey collectors to ultimately take out their wallet.
Make sure you consider…
Who will show up?
Time to do a little research. If it is possible, go to a few events at that venue/gallery and see who is attending. Does it seem like they are all just friends of the artist or is the venue drawing their own crowd? Are the artists selling? What is the price of the work that has sold? The venue may look perfect for your work, but if real buyers aren’t showing up, it may not actually be the right fit.
Can you afford to do it right?
Overhead for bigger shows can be a doozie. For every show that I have participated in, I’m responsible to print and frame my photographic prints. For a solo show, it gets pricey to do it right! Keep in mind that anything you don’t sell is coming home with you after the show and will need to be safely stored until you can show it again, with the possibility of getting damaged. My advice would be to start small and build up to larger shows as you can afford it and also as you get the hang of what venues work best for you.
It is worth while to show your work in person in some form or fashion. Even if you don’t end up selling anything, you have planted seeds in the minds of potential future customers. You never know what will unfold from meeting someone in person and getting the opportunity to explain your vision and inspiration. Just keep in mind to choose where you sell your work carefully and make sure that your type of buyers are going to be there.
Story by Mallory Morrison
Featured image by Alyssa Hamilton Art