When invited to give my first solo exhibition at a gallery, I was thrilled to pieces. Took a deep breath, and dove right in – sometimes you just gotta GO FOR IT.
The opening day for this show was a mere 3 weeks away, so I was very glad to have been painting all those evenings and weekends just for the love of it so that I had this inventory of works to draw upon such that when the invitation came to exhibit I was ready!
In the future I’d prefer to have at least a few months to create a cohesive series for a solo exhibition.
What else? Well, clear communication is key. Both a concrete starting plan, and real-time updates, in both directions.
To start with, what is the theme and content of the show? If this is something that’s not yet been created, it will require more time, on the order of 4-6 months. Depending on the medium used, drying time is also a factor – for example the thick oil paint I’m into now takes weeks to dry.
And after that, glazing and framing (or at least wiring) are next, followed by shipping and of course the installation onsite. So there’s perhaps a few weeks to a month of just pre-event prep that happens after the paintings are complete. Yet another reason to just keep painting all the time!
How will the show flow? It’s important to lay out the show exhibition in advance. Literally draw up a diagram with what painting goes where, in order to optimize the viewer’s experience. Some artists even draw up 3D models at scale!
What is the split? Galleries usually take 30-50%; what they provide varies widely. It’s very important to clarify what is included, who does what, and when. For example, is the Gallery or the artist going to handle the framing and/or wiring, shipping, etc?
What marketing will take place, when, and created by whom? Ideally a combination of both the gallery and the artist will cross-promote on their email lists and social media platforms starting months in advance, and increasing as the time to event draws near. Artists, make sure all posts are carefully reviewed for accuracy before being sent, there’s nothing more upsetting than to have your name misspelled, or any other typos.
If the artist, having a designated studio manager or assistant to handle all these details for you is SUCH a relief, so that you can focus on the creating of art rather than these logistics. They are essential activities, to be sure, but find someone who excels at this type of organizational work while you as the artist focus on your creative flow.
As an artist, having someone to follow up on the details for you so that you can focus on creating the art is SUCH a relief. The sooner you can build a trusted team around you, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your event!
It’s finally your big day! Treat it like you’re the bride or groom at your own wedding, where you can arrive looking and feeling your absolute best. Build in a few relaxing events before your show, such as a massage.