When Are You Ready For An Art Show?

Walking toward my first show felt a little scary!
{photo by my 3 year old}

I was talking to a friend at dinner a few weeks ago, and she commented that she’d like to do an art show someday…

I tweeted with another friend wondering if I’d see her work out during the holidays in our neighborhood…and she’s not ready yet…

I used to daydream about doing a coffee shop art show. I really wanted to get my work out there and see if it resonated with people and made them smile the same way it did to me. But, there was always an excuse standing in my way:

My work isn’t good enough yet.

I don’t have the time.

I can’t afford to put it together.

The kids need me – I can’t possibly justify hiring a sitter to put everything together.

I don’t know if I’ll sell anything.

And then, I attended a live show on how creatives can make money with their craft. My take-away lesson was that I just needed to try, and try and try but only if I learned and applied the lessons each time. Sitting next to me during the show was a man who had just done his first “Coffee Shop” Show. He had years of commercial photography under his belt and as a result loads of artful photographs.

I asked him how it went. He said no one bought a single thing. But, they did compliment his work. His voice had an edge to it. He was hurt by the experience. I did my best to brush off the negativity of his experience, and not let it get me down about my first upcoming show.

And so, I did my first art show and found myself in the midst of a good experience. People bought my work. Compliments were gratefully received. I almost broke even on the expense of getting my work up on the walls.

What I have learned from almost a year of doing this is that you’re ready when you’re willing to face your fears. Put in the work, and see what happens. Learn from each experience and don’t be afraid to make changes.

Lessons I learned:

1) Choose a location that participates in an Art Walk, not a coffee shop in a strip mall that people run in and out of without looking at the walls. This applies to small businesses not just coffee shops.

2) Check out the location or event first. It will help you decide if
it’s a good fit and what work to show.

3) Tell your friends and family and dentist. Don’t be shy about this – everyone you know should be invited either verbally or through your media of choice. These are your people. They want to see you succeed!

. . . . .

And now that I’ve shared my advice, I must admit that every show, every time I feel some “stage fright.” There are butterflies in my tummy. I feel this sense of urgency to get everything ready. I am not sure if I have enough of the things people will want to buy.

My Little Photography Assistant – sometimes I take her out to photograph along side me:)

I know everything will be okay. The hardest part is getting everything there and set up. On Friday, I get to juggle my daughter’s pick up from Preschool, loading my brother’s truck up, my wagon, and unloading with my brother’s help, my little girl in tow and setting up everything. Thankfully, my husband is coming home early to pick up my son, then the girl and helping me set up in the final 30 minutes before this show opens!

I could not get my work out there without the help of my family. And, I’m sure that if it’s time and help holding you back from getting your work out there, all you have to do is ask the people who love you!

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About Holli

A "cooking from scratch" geek, Mom, Wife, Seattle Native, Photographer and serial volunteer.
This entry was posted in Family, Inspiration, Photography, Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When Are You Ready For An Art Show?

  1. Carol Wall says:

    Nice commentary Holli

    Sent from my iPhone Carol

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