Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Organizing your own art exhibit and opening event without gallery representation, advice and support for artists.

I apologize for taking so long to post this, but better now than never so here we go: I had my solo inaugural art exhibit in April without gallery representation or other art institutions, this is how I made my exhibit a success.  This is just my experience, it differs depending on each individual.

A word of warning... you may end up looking like this!

It may not be a bad thing after all...

The show must go on, and you get through it.

1. Be in tune with yourself so you can identify when you are READY.
Thinking, feeling, sensing, 'ommmm...' *breathe*

2. Set DATE.  My date moved a few times, but just make sure it is not on a holiday, or other date for ex. Passover (I had to pay an extra $1000 of 'rescheduling fees', I should hope if the people are in the business of event venues, and space rentals, they would be on the ball and inform you of possible occasions, like 'that's on a holiday, are you sure?' sort of thing, I learnt but had to pay up, ouch!  They are a 'business' so don't be so naive).  
3. Decide on a venue; consider location, foot traffic, transit, parking, weather, etc.
Research, ask, go there, walk around, look, think of guest's needs, and yours.

4. Ask yourself 'what the hell am I doing?'
5. Art pieces; depending on the size of the venue you will need art pieces accordingly.  Either you have enough in stock, or you make new ones.  
6. Come up with a list; you will have many lists, (you will run out of space in your brain to store them and the words start to cascade out of your ears while you sleep), list of art pieces, list of numbers/budgets, list of things to do, list of people; invites, clients, target audience, PR/marketing/media/sponsors/etc.  List of people you want to work with, like collaborations, list of all the things you don't have and you need to get (yards of wiring, intensive hand moisturizer, the like...), list of how much help you need or want for the event..., and 10 x (multi tasking)^1000.
7. Get a calendar; I have a filofax (main), one masking taped to the wall in front of me, a larger one in my studio.  Or if you are more high tech; on your desktop, app, smart/i phone, etc.  Create a time line, even if you've never done this before and have no clue how long what/when/where/who/how/when/huh, make a rough estimate.
This goes with me everywhere, if you know me I flip this thing out, old-school style:)

8. It is good to have support; you can have meetings, brainstorm, assign tasks.
9. Initial invites; announce on social media, through email, snail mail, youtube, twitter, wherever you need to share.  It is good to come up with a logo/design/image as a focal point.
Snap shot of stickers I got made with event logo and self promotional website address.

10. Remember things take time so give yourself and other roles enough time; like my initial invites, I planned to have them all printed and real official (with a 'save the date' message first, then a proper invitation later); well, I only got my post card invites delivered 10 days prior.  When delivered, I realized opening the box that the company messed up and there were some other mix ups too. 

It may be good to work with those who are local, not international as some things are simpler done when you can see the product, and speak to them in person... thank you, point taken.
11. Learn and adapt as you go, you need to pick things up fast.
12. Phone, email, meet those involved as many times as you can fit in and is needed.  
13. Be organized.
14. Always back yourself up, stand up for your ideas, and work.  Do what is needed to get things done; like negotiating, esp important when you are an artist trying to further establish yourself and have limited funds.  
15. Gain a sense of balance between the business aspect of art and actual studio time producing; this is difficult, but when you believe in what you do, are passionate about it, have a purpose, and need to share with others, you will never give up and keep trying to find the right balance.
16. Being an artist in all sense of the word be creative in your business strategies too:)
17. Follow up with all who are involved; proofs are needed, trials, improvements, product updates, etc.  
18. Research that which you are not familiar, and get to know as much about it as possible.  
19. Remember to eat sleep and feed the dog.
20. If you have a story regarding the show or work, write it, edit, send.  Try to get the word out about the event.  I wear different hats and I interchange as I go, artist/manager/assistant/curator/PR/marketing/accountant/event organizer/business person/blogger/owner/whatever is needed.  
21. Get the invitations out; when you have a bit of a hiccup like me with getting the printed post cards on time, adjust and make it work with the new situation; don't have much time to send out snail mail so try to do as much through email (although it isn't my first choice and option), and give invites to people in person.
You should've seen me walking around during those months, I always had with me a stack of business cards, event post cards, and event posters just in case I talk to and/or meet someone and/or I ran into a store that is more art inclined, it was annoying as I had to carry a huge bag with me everywhere I went, but...  I was always ready to advertise and support my brand/event/self.  I also knew word of mouth was extremely important in my case.  

22. Small things add up, like labels and wiring; so don't leave everything to the last minute.
23. I planned as much as I possibly could, for every possible situation, from all angles, and drew everything up in my drawing journals; for my sanity and peace of mind, as well as showing others, visually, my vision and idea, so they can get a better understanding and be on the same page (or close).  
My very initial mood board.

Rough sketch of floor plan of space, printed out and cut out all the art pieces I knew were going to be in the show, placed them in the order and area I felt would be best (also looking at actual photographs of the interior of the space which I took months in advanced, with lighting and window location, etc).  

23. Try to get enough sleep the night before the opening, and on the opening try to enjoy it (as everything would have been planned, somewhat rehearsed, and ready to go smoothly).  
You will be dead tired and totally shattered by this time, but adrenalin will kick in, and in my case somehow I got my ass into that latex outfit when I looked and felt probably the roughest, stuck those stilettos on, took a few deep breaths and stepped out (and that was also my first ever time wearing latex in public, ever, so it took guts)... then to be interviewed by someone from an interior design magazine before the show actually opened, while I sweated bullets, trying to be all calm cool and collected, was probably a sight, and from the image I have in my head would definitely do it differently next time, but that's all in hindsight.

The event was a huge success, you can read all about it here: under opening event and exhibit follow up.

I knew this one would be a long one, but I wanted to share my experiences in hopes that it may aid in other artist's journeys.  Now I know that with or without gallery representation this is the caliber and standard at which I can and will operate, work, and give, it is good to know, and I will never stop learning and improving.  

Thank you for your time, and for Being!  Making art, and have a list of topics I want to film for my channel so am gettin' it done~





  1. Pizza box girl to latex-clad fine artist, now that's some creative bandwidth - Cinderella style...haha... The last picture with the exhibit logo in the background as you gleefully embrace your success is priceless. May the precious Ojiz┼Ź-samas guide and protect you on your next challenge. Hope you are enjoying the summer weather and finding inspiration outdoors.

    Looking forward to more art, more vids, and more Marie, onegai shimasu!

    1. Have been enjoying the nice warm weather:) Hai, wakarimashita! Thank you for the wonderful comments, I truly appreciate it!

  2. Despite all your concerns, you must have had an awesome show. Hope I can do the same sometime with my photography. Glad you wore your latex dress, you can do it. I probably won't, do they make them for guys? :)

    1. It would be awesome to do something similar with your photography! Yes they do make them for guys:)

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