Entering Art Shows
Are you juggling family and jobs while squeezing slivers of art-making into your busy world? How often do you apply to art shows? Do you ponder the opportunities of artistic exposure and camaraderie on social media?
In the melee of the artist’s mind, it can be challenging to mount the technology of digital sharing. “But it’s free exposure!”, we all say! “Free” after you learn to title and scan your work.
Free after you plan repeated missives to fill the What-Should-I-Say part of your posts on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
There is also the learning curve of each social media application. How do you upload images in all of them, and what is the best size and format? Which social media site gives the most bang per-post? What’s a hashtag, and where should I use them? It’s a quagmire to the unfamiliar, right?
Art Shows Close to Home
If you’re overwhelmed with the whole idea of sharing your work digitally on myriad social media platforms, you can turn your horse around, and double back to camp, to pursue old fashioned routes of exposure.
There are plenty of opportunities in regional or national juried art shows, competitions and exhibits. This will still require the titling and scanning part of that learning curve mentioned above, and maybe even the What-Should-I-Say challenge, if you’re required to tell a little bit about the art you’re submitting.
And there’s the shipping of art too, unless you cast your nets exclusively to drive-able perimeters in your local region. But you can get passably proficient with all of this stuff in one weekend, right? (Example: Here’s an online course to help you title your art.)
Writing and Speaking About Your Art
Writing and speaking about art to strangers is a topic near and dear to my heart.
It’s rare that a paint-brush-wielding artist is a masterful wordsmith. Artists can be very isolated, and quiet, socially. That’s what we love about diving into the creative zone of MAKING. There’s no talking in that space.
Unless we’re talking to ourselves, or our canvas: “What do you want to be? Where are you taking me with all this green today?”
But you can still rock an exhibit opening, or fill a show application with good words. All you need is a helpful little script. 📋
Art Show Conversation Review
Even the most demure of artists can keep an internal script ready for either light exhibit conversations, or filling out show application forms.
Print this sheet (see the print option below) Fill in your own answers. This will be your list of conversation starters for art openings, and your reference sheet for show applications.
Make a cup of tea. Set 30 minutes aside. Practice the questions and answers aloud with your family, just like you might for a job interview. Stand tall, make eye contact, and be proud of your gifts.
No bashing the art allowed – only positive replies.
Keep your answer sheet handy to refresh your responses before openings, and show applications. After one event with your ready-made answers, you’ll be an Art-Chat Boss.
Existing, pre-planned answers are easier to launch, and then elaborate upon, with more specific details. You’ll avoid feeling tongue tied and short on words, and you’ll get better at this with practice.
With thirty minutes of preparation for attention on your art from total strangers, you’ll be charming your patrons with much more confidence than if you wing it.
And you’ll have more fun at your own exhibit, because you’ll be ready.
Artist and Patron Q&A Prep List
- What inspired you to create these pieces?
- Did you take the reference photos, or were they painted on site?
- Which media and specific techniques did you use?
- Do you usually work in this size, this format and this color palette?
- Do you work in series, or do you prefer stand alone, individualized media and styles?
- Is your art experimental, or do you plan with rough sketches, color studies or a specific palette? (NOTE: if you answer “no” to all of these, it’s a good idea to ponder & find your “yes” answers, so you’ll be chatting about what your work is, rather than what it isn’t.)
- Materials used – include canvas type, make and surface of paper, professional pigments, media, etc.
- Dimensions – include both image and also frame measurements for added clarity on show applications.
- Who are your artistic influences? (Ask your patrons who they love/collect in the art world too.)
- What do you like about this piece? What did you hope it would say – to you – and to the viewer? (Remember – no broadcasting shortcomings or disappointments.)
- Read this post which dives a little deeper on common questions the public asks artists.
Helpful Resources for Entering Art Shows
Subscriptions to art exhibit harvesting sites will keep you apprised of regional and national exhibit information.
Getting regular notices with lists of shows coming up all over the US works as a reminder to set some time aside, pick the ones that look enticing, and then slog through [did I say slog? As in plow, clench teeth, procrastinate? Yes, I did.] the application process. [Did I just add something to your To-Do List? Yes, I did. I’m sorry. Here, sit next to me, and we’ll make popcorn and do it together.] 🙂
Here are five art show websites you can explore, and bookmark or subscribe to:
Share Your Resources
Are there other websites for art shows that you use and find helpful? Are there blogs you follow with helpful tips for artists just getting started along this path? Share them in the comments to others can find them too.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!
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Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.William Faulkner
The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means, and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again…