We've all been there... You see a great opportunity and jumped right in. You spend money to do everything right, with the expectation that there's going to be an almost certain return on investment. You prepare, travel, and take time away from our studio. The excitement is palpable... and then... nothing. You're left with a sense of, "What did I do wrong?" The fact of the matter is that any art venture is a bit of a gamble. There really are no guarantees. We've heard from artists who have always sold out at a show only to sell nothing for a year. We've heard about artists who sank a lot of money, time, and resources into a show only to have terrible turnout. While there's not a lot you can do to guarantee this never happens there are things you can do to be more mindful of your choices and set yourself up for as much success as possible. Here are the 8 Important factors to be considered for making smart choices for Shows and Exhibitions:
1: Has the event been well attended in the past?
Before committing to any art event, investigate its history. Has the event been well attended in the past? A well-attended event indicates that there's potential for a broader reach and more exposure for your artwork.
Also read- How to be Professional as an Artist: 4 Key Skills
2: Is the event promoted well?
Even the most exceptional artwork can go unnoticed if the event isn't adequately promoted. Effective promotion is crucial for drawing the right crowd. Evaluate how well the event is being promoted through various channels, including social media, newsletters, and traditional advertising.
Artist Pro Tip: Don’t leave all the promotions to the venue or organizers. The more people talking about it the better. Make sure to promote events you are involved in on social media, your website, and your newsletter. You may even want to send postcard invites to your collectors or take out show-specific ad space in magazines like Art of the West.
3: Does the event have a good reputation?
A good reputation speaks volumes about an event. Events with positive feedback from both artists and attendees are more likely to provide a favorable experience and potentially better sales opportunities.
4: Do you know any artists who have participated in the past that you can ask about their experience?
Connect with fellow artists who have participated in the event before. Their firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights into what to expect, from the setup process to the type of audience the event attracts.
Also read- An Artist’s Guide to Gallery Representation
5: Does the event, venue, and target audience match your target audience and style?
Consider whether the event's theme, venue, and target audience align with your artistic style and goals. Exhibiting at events that attract your ideal audience is more likely to lead to sales and connections that matter.
6: If this opportunity doesn't turn out how I hope with sales will it still be a worthwhile event to be a part of?
While sales are essential, remember that not all benefits are monetary. Sometimes, a venture that didn’t result in profit can still provide non-monetary returns that are equally valuable. Ask yourself if you've made valuable connections, added impressive entries to your CV, gathered emails for your mailing list, exposed your work to your target audience, or learned valuable lessons for the future. These intangible gains can be immensely valuable in the long run.
Artist Pro Tip: Even when things don’t go well, do your best to be positive and professional. Your attitude will speak volumes about you and your art business and may influence onlookers if they’d like to do business with you (i.e. your behavior affects your reputation).
7: Do the expense and time requirements match what I am currently able to handle?
Consider whether you can comfortably handle the expenses and time commitments associated with the event. Overextending yourself can lead to burnout and financial strain, so choose opportunities that align with your current capabilities.
Also read- Art Marketing: Creative Tips and Strategies to Promote Your Art
8: Will this event push my career goals forward?
Evaluate whether the event aligns with your long-term career goals. Will it help you reach the next milestone in your artistic journey? Sometimes, an event's value goes beyond immediate financial returns; it can be a stepping stone towards achieving your broader ambitions.
Artist Pro Tip: When a venture seems like it is a total waste of time and money. It can leave you feeling defeated and confused. Don't forget that some benefits are not monetary. Of course, we all want more money in our pockets, but there are other benefits that can have a lot of "ROI" in the long run. Ask yourself, did I make good connections? Do I have something worthwhile to add to my CV? Did I gather emails for my mailing list? Was my work exposed to more people in my target audience? Did I learn something that will influence my decisions and direction in the future? All of these things can be immensely valuable. Don't forget to count them when you look at the benefits of a particular event.
In conclusion, the art world can be unpredictable, and success is not always guaranteed. However, by making informed and thoughtful choices when selecting shows and exhibitions, you can increase your chances of achieving your artistic goals. Remember that while monetary gains are essential, non-monetary benefits like connections, exposure, and personal growth can be just as valuable in the long run. So, when you're faced with an art venture that didn't go as planned, don't lose heart. Evaluate the intangible benefits, learn from the experience, and continue to make smart choices that propel your art career forward.
*Art of the West has been a supporter and sponsor of CGA. Thank you so much to Art of the West Magazine for all that you do for CGA and Western artists!