As we embark on a new
#1: Label Your Work
This may seem obvious to some, but many artists do not label their own work. After enduring the arduous (yet, enjoyable!) task of completing your masterpiece, and possibly even signing the front (or somewhere in general,) you don’t necessarily think to label the back or underside of your piece.
Here is why this is important: You submit your piece to a show. Perhaps, it is a solo exhibition, perhaps it is a group show like the one we are producing. You package your work, drop it at the gallery, and off you go about your business. Somehow the packaging becomes separated from the work, or perhaps you recycled some old packaging you had laying around and didn’t notice another title was still affixed (it happens.) Now, your gallery personnel are trying hard to decipher which piece is which and in the shuffle your piece gets
Label your work: Labels don’t need to be written on the piece, they can simply be a piece of masking tape with your name and the title, but it should be something that won’t easily become separated from the piece.
#2: Prepare Your Work for Hanging
With everything in the universe, not every space is created equal and not every piece will require the same treatment.
Best practice? Visit the space you will be exhibiting in (if possible,) before you prepare your work for display. Here at the Spirit Room we employ use of guardrails to hang our work as our building is historic and does not take nails in the wall gracefully. Our process essentially consists of hanging a wide hook from the guardrail with thick metal cord down to a hangable piece, wrapping it around the affixed wire and creating a double noose to secure it in place. Essentially, what this means is if the artist wire isn’t placed appropriately the piece will lean away from the wall.
How to accommodate for this? If you are concerned your piece will become a leaning tower there are a few things you can do: affix your wire to the top quarter quadrant on the back of your piece. This helps distribute weight downwards, which should help you piece stay straight. If that isn’t enough, putting a peg or foam square on the bottom corners on the back will also alleviate this issue.
Next, know your wire. The wire you use should be thick and strong enough to hold the weight of your piece. If you are unsure either contact the gallery or your local framing department. Either should be able to offer a viable hanging solution.
Finally, either frame your work or ensure all sides of your piece are painted/ covered. Nothing makes a piece seem unfinished more than neglected sides, and though you may think no one will look at that, you would be wrong. Subconsciously, brains are wired to notice anomalies, and unfinished edges would be one of them. Again, if you’re unsure how to proceed, reach out to us. We’re here to help.
#3: Package Your Work Appropriately
Whether your piece is sculpture, framed, stretched canvas, or assemblage it needs to be protected.
Typically, sculptures should be placed in a
Framed pieces usually do best with a simple mask over the glass, such as sticky film or foam, and wrapped in stiff cardboard. When in a pinch a thick blanket and rope will also suffice.
Assemblages should be packed in such a way that fragile bits are protected and small pieces won’t get lost. A good method is to tie down the main frame to the cardboard box interior, cushion edges with foam or soft padding, and put small pieces in a zip lock bag or similar container. Assemblages should also come with detailed instructions for assembly, in case you are not present to construct yourself.
Paintings usually do well wrapped in a thick plastic, secured with painters tape or masking tape (this enables you to reuse the same tape over at the end of the show,) and wrapped in either cardboard or butchers paper. Ideally, you will want to create some form of cushion between your works to ensure they don’t scratch the surfaces. Blankets, also work well for this.
#4: Know Your Market
As much as every artist would love to sell their work for a million dollars, or even a couple grand, realistically you need to start somewhere. Factors such as the region you live in, the age of the public generally purchasing work in your area, how well received artists are in your area, or what subjects are popular will ultimately affect the price point you sell at. Though, we are happy to assist with pricing, it is generally best to determine pricing on your own. You are the only one who really knows or understands how much time, effort, trials, and tears went into constructing your piece.
A general guideline for pricing your work: (cost of materials x 1.5) plus (hours spent x hourly rate)This will give you your wholesale price. When exhibiting in a gallery you will want to also factor in for their commission on sales.
#5: Ask Questions
When in doubt, ask questions. Ask lots of questions. A gallery will never be upset with you for asking for more information. They could become upset with you being
#6: Be Consistent
Unless you are presenting a retrospective show your work style and subject matter should be consistent. For instance, you wouldn’t have a show titled, Pandas, and put pieces with daisies on display (mixed in with your pandas of course.) Ultimately, it is better to have good quality work, but fewer pieces, than to try to fill the gaps with something that doesn’t actually promote the message you’re trying to convey.
#7: Read Your Contract
I can’t stress how important this is. Read your contract, know your contract, ask questions about the contract, analyze the contract. Don’t just blindly sign and agree to something. This is a bad idea. Admittedly, our contract is rather lenient, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t received complaints or individuals who have requested special amendments. A gallery is unlikely to make amendments to their contract, that would make them inconsistent and their contract essentially useless.
#8: Be Reasonable
Not everything is going to go how you imagine. Not everything in the contract will be ideal. That being said it is beneficial to understand why certain protocols are in place. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be abrasive about an issue. Be calm, be reasonable, and communicate your concerns.
Admittedly, the Spirit Room receives few complaints when exhibiting work, but it is always a good practice to be friendly and even keeled. You’re likely to arrive at a favorable outcome when you are easy to work with.
#9: Know What is Expected and Be Prepared
When you accept a spot in a show or accept doing a solo exhibition your gallery administrator is likely to give you a list of important dates and expectations. This should be reviewed together, but ultimately will be your responsibility to remember. All of these things are important. Do your best to meet deadlines, or communicate any inability to meet said deadlines. Communication is necessary
#10: Have an Artist Statement and Biography Prepared
I know, I know, I know. No visual artist really enjoys writing about themselves and we all like to pretend we’re some mysterious creature and the show is meant to be ‘experienced by the viewer,’ or for ‘the viewer to determine,’ but ultimately you should be able to talk about your work and yourself. The best practice is to have a simple biography and general artist statement prepared that can be altered to fit your current show or piece. This is also beneficial so should a media personnel ask for more information you aren’t scrambling to try to put something together, you could have both of these things posted on your website and with a well placed business card direct them there for their information.
I hope you all find this information useful. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me, I’m here to help:
I hope to see all of you enter our upcoming show! Happy New Year everyone.