Helpful resources for Entering Art Shows

a collagraph print of a bedroom window

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a collagraph print of a bedroom window
Sunday Morning 10.5 x 4.7 collagraph print with watercolor and colored pencil (sold)

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?

carving shallow grooves from mat board to hold printmaking ink for a collagraph print
Carving shallow, recessed areas into mat board that will hold printmaking ink

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.)

Sealing a mat board collagraph plate with gel gloss medium
Sealing the finished plate with acrylic gloss medium

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. ?

Mixing ink on a plexiglass covered table for a collagraph printing marathon

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.

Belinda Del Pesco talking to patrons at an art fair
Talking to patrons at the San Diego Artwalk in California

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.
pulling a collagrapg print from an inked sheet of carved mat board after a trip through an etching press
After the mat board collagraph plate was sealed, inked and wiped, it’s pressed against a sheet of soaked and blotted printmaking paper, and pulled to reveal the print

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:

mat board collagraph with colored pencil
You can add color to your monochrome collagraph with other media, like colored pencils

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!


P.S. You can subscribe to get each new post from this blog as soon as it’s published by signing up here.

P.P.S. If you enjoy making collagraphs – like the one in this post – check out (and join) a few collagraph groups on Facebook to swell your inspiration up to mountainous heights here and here.

All framed and ready to hang. (listed here in my Etsy Shop)
If you’d like to watch a demonstration of the collagraph inking and printing process used to make this print, here is a tutorial video from my channel.


Art Quote

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.
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…

William Faulkner
A cat, looking perplexed, with a speech bubble pondering: Trying to Recall the Last Time I painted...
Click the kitty to visit this free online mini course – Six Tips to Paint More

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11 thoughts on “Helpful resources for Entering Art Shows”

  1. Wonderful and inspiring work as usual Belinda. You make it look so easy! I’ve only tried one collagraph sample piece so far – definitely something to explore further in the New Year.

    1. Hi Sonia, I didn’t know you’d made one! Is it posted somewhere? I’m glad you’re going to explore collagraphs more – they are SO fun! Thanks for the compliments!

  2. Love the image and the post. Such great ideas always. I wish there were similar sites I could hit up in Canada for upcoming shows. Shipping isn’t a fun part of exhibiting internationally.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

  3. Cristiane Marino

    Hi Belinda, I love your blog! I always find something gorgeous like this collagraph. And the Art Quote that you chose is wonderful….touched my heart. Thank you so much…

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