Exhibiting Fine Artist Lecture

We had a lecture from Rosalind Davis who is a well established fine artist, curator, writer, teacher and consultant and has also written a book called ‘What Uni Didn’t Teach You About Art’. This lecture would be useful for me to refer back to if I ever change my mind and decide that I want to become an exhibiting artist but there are still lots of elements and advice that can be applied to careers in art instead of just being a gallery artist.

Here are some of my notes:

  • ‘Being picked/chosen’ is generally not a thing that happens. You have to find the opportunities, build the relations etc
  • Even in galleries there are still different world between them eg/ The Tate, local galleries, galleries that are in people’s houses, studio spaces and so on
  • Don’t aim to sustain your practice completely alone. Build networks, be ambitious, meet other artists
  • Research the galleries and curators who would probably be interested in your work. Contact them, invite them to your shows (she invited some to her degree show and a few actually turned up), send them postcards with your work on but don’t spam them
  • You can engage in competitions, residencies, art fairs, site-specific projects, commissions and so on as well to sustain your practice and become more established
  • Some sites with opportunities are artquest, artsadmin, artsjobs, ukyoungartists and artistsnetwork
  • Just having a website and Instagram isn’t enough. You have to do other things along side them too

Ways of getting opportunities and exhibitions:

  • Do your research – on companies, on curators, on galleries and so on
  • Do promotional material and press
  • Network well and build relationships as often as you can. Talk to gallery staff, owners, curators, engage in artist groups and societies, other people at competitions, support fellow artists and curators, remember to use manners…
  • Be organised, reliable, professional and responsible
  • Holding your own competition is a good way of meeting other artists
  • When you send images name them properly. Put your name, the title, media, size and date. This is so if people download them they can still see who it’s by and won’t get it mixed up with others and it won’t be an ordeal trying to find out who made it
  • Make sure pictures of your work are high quality

Things not to do:

  • Don’t approach a gallery at an art fair
  • Don’t send generic spam emails that begin with Dear Sir/Madam
  • Don’t make cold calls/cold emails
  • Don’t just add someone to your mailing list without their consent
  • Don’t be pushy/needy

Advantages of exhibiting:

  • It gives you an intensive to create work
  • Gain new audiences
  • Expand your network
  • Builds your professional reputation
  • You get to learn, teach and maybe even sell work
  • Receiving reviews about your work

Things that you need to be taken seriously:

  • A CV
  • Artist statement – avoid cliches like ‘it explores’, ‘the juxtaposition of’, ‘inspired by’, ‘interested in the micro and macro’. Use synonyms instead
  • Images of your work
  • Promotional material – like business cards, postcards and your site. Make the business card aesthetically pleasing, a snapshot of your work with your contact details and social medias. Exhibition postcards are basically adverts and they contain mostly images but also sponsors. Your site should have a home page, CV, artist statement, blog, images, news (optional), other social media links and a contact page. Put personality in your bios on social media, like on Twitter (which is more spreadable for news than Instagram) don’t just leave it as ‘an artist from…’
  • Biography
  • A professional email and signature. Put your website, social media and exhibition dates in at the end of the signature
  • A history of selling work (before applying to a gallery)

Selling work and limited editions:

  • Using the method of calculating how much income you need and using the number of hours you spent on a piece isn’t enough to calculate the cost it should sell for. It doesn’t take into account that fact that you get quicker the more experienced you are, your years of expertise and that you should be earning more once you’re more well established. Research what cost other similar works have sold for with both well established and not so well established artists. Take into consideration the cost of the material and the size of the piece too
  • If you’re selling limited editions you need to number each one (the number in the edition also dictates the price), decide on an odd number of editions (for some reason this is common practice eg/25 prints of…) and once this is decided it is the final decision and you can’t do the exact same limited edition thing again

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