So its 4 days to go until my exhibition opens: Visionary Exhibition opens its doors to you lovely lot on the 25th April 2017.
Exhibitions are hard work, its not like planning a party for a friend of family member or putting on a buffet for people. its a little like planning a wedding although a lot more stressful. (I have done both)
So for future reference here is a few tips if any one would like to undertake the daunting task on planning there own exhibition… hire a curator.
Book the venue well in advance!!
Once that is booked and secured your venue then can start with everything else. The venue holds all the answers, what time, what date, location. without all these pieces of fundamental information you cannot start advertising, gaining guests or even arrange catering for your exhibition. So first port of call is to gain the space you wish to show your work in… maybe a cafe, local gallery, a rundown warehouse or maybe an open air pop up exhibition, there all possible venues just add a little creativity and make it your own.
Set your budget.
This is fundamental to planning and organisation of the overall event, it also puts your finances under the microscope. Be fair to yourself. If you knew for a while you was planning to curate an exhibition there should be something financial to show that, although if it is well in advance you may be fine.
Finances is a big part of what you envision your exhibition to be like, do you want classy and upmarket with a preview event of canapes and prosecco. Or a casual and friendly event with vintage beer and cake. Do you want prestigious guests like the top artist in your area or the mayor to attend, or are you looking for a family and friends gathering to celebrate your latest work? All fantastic ideas, but every exhibition is an individual, with an individual price tag, but all ranging from £500 upwards. I have set out a few tips on how to save the pennies.
- Utilize the people you already know, photographers, printers, cooks, waitresses, builders, artists etc… Call in favors of owe a few if you have to. Use the people around you instead of hiring others you do not. Most wont ask for the top price because they feel obliged to help, If your friend’s, dad’d best friend owns a catering company… call them and use your links (opening line- iv been recommended to call you by Andrew, Aria’s dad).
- Do not buy all at once- Spread out the costs of marketing materiel over a few months, do not wait till the month before. start buying them now.
- Booking catering and venue in advance will allow you to set up a payment plan with them. Pay your deposit (10% usually) and then pay each month a set amount. This will compensate itself, instead of paying one lump sum and missing it.
- Keep an eye on your travel costs, this is also a factor in which to consider in your budget.
Branding and marketing.
Branding and marketing are the key to gaining visitors to your exhibition. If the location you chose to have your exhibition in has an online space. Be sure to ask them to advertise you event on there website, social media. This allows there networks of previous clients of art enthusiasts to have the opportunity to see your work. Isn’t that the whole point of showing your work… for people to see it?
Early in the exhibition curating stages create yourself a brand, stick to the same colours, fonts, images. Or make yourself an exhibition logo. Post this on all the social media platforms you are filmier with (Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc). Make your own pages on social media and create and event to start the guest list process. A space where you can post regularly about the progress of your work you will exhibit or the progress of the exhibition itself.
- Artist statements- a little bit about the artists involved, this will allow your followers/ invitees to get to know a little bit about each individual person.
- Behind the scenes- post photos of a video about the progress of an ‘in the making’ video. this will grab peoples attention and show your work from a different perspective.
- Sneek Peeks- post snippets of footage or photographs that have been taken out of the final series. After all if you put all your final pieces on your social media no body would come because they can view it from the comfort of there own home/
- Developed promotional materials- posters, invites, leaflets etc… this will make people see your professionalism and that the exhibition is a real event.
- Count downs- I did mine on the week running up to the exhibition, this brought more activity to the pages as i was posting every day for a week up to the exhibition. Although you could do weekly countdowns.
- When the exhibition is due to be held and your have put up your exhibition, take a photo of the final space ready for the guests.
If you are holding an exhibition that you would like high profile professionals to attend they will expect to be waited on. So if you are doing a buffet style catering do not invite Her Majesty Queen.
If you would like high profile attendees invite them well in advance. A few months prior to sending out any other invitations. Professionals are nutritiously busy people and can take some time to get back to you, so factor in this time and give them no escape.
Planning and exhibition will become a very busy period in your life. You will meet with all kinds of professionals. Although each meeting will be for a different subject, be prepared for each of them. write down in advance any questions you need to ask, there is nothing more annoying than wanting to ask so many questions, then arriving to forget them all. Then all you do is ask the wrong questions to go home and email them with a list of questions you missed.
Take a note pad and pen or record the meeting and there answers through your phone or Dictaphone. If your anything like me, they will tell you everything you need to know and you will forget what they said as soon as you walk out of the door.
Ask your partners, fellow curators and other conjoined aspects of the exhibition if they have any questions for that person. If they do take them with you or get them to write them down for you prior to the meeting. I.e catering may want to ask the venue something.
Keep a log of all the meetings you have had, who with, what date, what was said. This will give you future reference of information you may have no needed back then.
Also keep a log of the contact details for the conjoining aspects of your exhibition. You should have the caterers mobile number, email address, name and maybe an assistants contact number as well, along with the same fore the venue, technical help, brewery and anyone else involved. You should have these with you at all time, especially i meetings, this will allow you advantage of cutting out the middle man where possible.
For example: If you meet with your caterers to finalize the menu, but they want to know if they can store the food in the venues freezer prior to the exhibition event. This would be your opportunity to give the caterers the venues contact details to confirm this between themselves. Although this is not the most professional way of completing the task, it dose take some of the weight from you, because after this meeting you will be writing the meeting up and finalizing other things prior to the exhibition date.
Design your space.
Prior to hanging any of your work or assembling any exhibition installations, design you exhibition space. Ask your venue for floor plans of there establishment or while at a meeting, take photos of there space. Designing your space will allow you to know prior to hanging how much wall space you have and what will be better hung were.
For example: you may have 20 A2 pieces and there could only be room for 17 A2 pieces, this then would give you a dilemma of what to place where and what not to show at all. Allow there to be space between each pieces of your art, approximately half the size of each piece should be the witch between them all, this then gives the impression of similarity and an even look throughout the space.
So designing the space is key to getting the exhibition put up quickly but effectively.
An exhibition is not only about showing people you work and abilities, Its also about perspective clients and gaining notability for your work. Promotional packs are a great way to get your name out to people that attend your exhibition. Give them incentive to take them home, include a pen with the exhibition logo on or a trolley dolly. Something that is not only branded, but they can also use it.
Within this pack include you business cards, a postcard with an image from you your and contact details on, an exhibition catalog or leaflet and maybe old clients business cards in exchange for commission.
Example: My promotional packs contained; a postcard, Exhibition catalog, a pen (above) my business card, a clients business card (in exchange for commission) along with packs provided by a client, all contained in a white paper bag.
Your promotional material is what you make it. if you do not do any, you wont promote yourself.
The big day.
All that planning and the day has arrived, the day of your exhibition event. Weather your exhibition is going to be displayed for 1 day or 1 month, the preview event is everything to you right now. This day unlike any other is the most important. Prepare for the worst but expect the best. This will allow you to prepare for any hurdles you face on the way. If you have put up you work prior to your exhibition preview that is one less thing to worry about, although there is still more to do.
Prior to this day you should have:
- Set a time for your arrival to the venue.
- Set a time for your caterers arrival to the venue.
- Set a time for your guests arrival.
- Prepared the exhibition promotional packs (if any).
On the day you should:
- Confirm with the venue and catering regarding times of arrival.
- Test any technical equipment.
- Prepared the space for peoples arrival.
- Lay out any stations (feedback station, purchasing station etc).
Good luck 😀 I feel like I surly need it for mine.