GETTING THE MEASURE OF THE SPACE
At the first convenient opportunity take the time to survey the area you will be exhibiting in. Take a tape measure and make a rough plan of the space. Where is the entrance? What is the main wall that people will focus on? If the venue is a busy bar or restaurant take time to observe the habits of the customers and check with staff which are the most popular tables or if anything gets moved during the course of the business week. It is also worthwhile making allies of any staff you talk to - they will be the ones fielding enquiries from customers and you will just be adding to their workload.
Measure each useable wall across and make a note of any alcoves, columns or odd features. Make special note of electrical switches and light fittings and ask whether there are walls that can’t be used for any reason. If you are going to be tapping in nails check that the walls are not too hard, too soft, damp or likely to crumble. If you are going to be hanging from a rail, make a note of its height. After this you should have a good idea of how many pictures you are likely to be exhibiting and can either start painting them or working out the order! Recheck the space nearer the time of the exhibition when you know where things are going to be hung - it is easy to miss details.
If you have planned each pictures position accurately there is absolutely no reason why this should be the epic undertaking some galleries would have us believe it is. The most important thing is preparation.
Labels and Catalogue
As soon as you are close to having assembled the necessary work start organising the information for the labelling. This will also be used for the catalogue. Design a template that includes your name and possibly contact details and can be printed several to a sheet of 190gsm card. Pick a font in a size that can be clearly read from about six feet away on a label that fits neatly in the bottom right corner of your pictures. Add the title of the artwork, the medium and most importantly: the price. I lay mine out like this:
ARTIST & PRINTMAKER
Hanging an Art exhibition
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How to organise and hang an art exhibition - tools and tricks of the trade
Label each picture clearly in the bottom right hand corner with a small card stuck onto the glass
The same information can be differently formatted and used for the catalogue and also printed out as a price list for sticking o the wall of the exhibition. The more ways of letting people know that the work is for sale and at what price the better
If you have planned the exhibition hanging thoroughly there is no reason why you can’t have the catalogue, price list, a brief CV and statement, as well as the labels, cut to size, and already stuck on the pictures before you even start hanging. As well as spare blu tack for these you will need:
Pliers for removing nails
Craft Knife for cutting nylon cord
Nylon cord for adjusting height of pictures
Screwdriver for fitting D rings if required
Spare D-rings and screws
Black felt tip marker for touching up scuffed black frames
Glass cleaner and kitchen towel
Lean the pictures against the wall they are going to be hung on, knock in the nails, hang the pictures. Check they are in alighnment, either centred or by top or bottom edge stick up your price list and CV and place neat piles of catalogues around strategically,
Last but not least let the manager or a member of staff know you have finished, check you have not left anything lying around and go home to prepare for the Private view!
PUBLICITY AND MAILING LISTS
You’ve been offered an exhibition, they liked your work, so what next? Have you planned a theme for the exhibition or a title? This can be same as one of your most successful pieces of work or a general name summarising the type of work you will be exhibiting. In either case you will have to choose a piece of work that is most characteristic of your style and the mood you want to create for the exhibition as this will be the basis for your publicity. The piece you choose should be eye-catching enough to be used on a small poster, private view cards, the cover of a catalogue and also as a listing in the local magazine or newspaper. Use a DTP program to experiment with the layout and try and keep the general design consistent between all your publicity material. Check with the venue that you will be able to display a poster in advance of your exhibition and find out how many private view cards they will need. Remember to include the title of the exhibition, your name the address of the venue and the opening times for the exhibition. If you have a web site don’t forget to include its address! If you are having a private view also include the date and time of that on the PV cards. Don’t worry if you haven’t decided what put in the exhibition yet.
Depending on the type and size of the venue the private view can be entirely private or include the venue’s usual customers. Draw up a list of all the people you could probably invite; friends, family, work colleagues and anyone else you can think of that might buy. Try and post or handout private view cards about 2 weeks in advance of the exhibition - too early and people will forget - too late and they will already have other things to do.
Ryepress resources is an Amazon “Astore” in which I have gathered together a selection some of the Art Materials and equipment that I have used personally and can therefore recommend.