I wrote a little blog post for printed.com about how to put on an illustration exhibition.
You can read it below or here’s the link.
10 top tips for putting on a successful illustration exhibition
It’s a good idea to get going with this as soon as possible, particularly the online, social-media side of it. We started tweeting and instagramming about ours several months before. It’s nice to show sneaky peeks of things you are working on for the show. We designed our posters and flyers several months before as well but we decided to distribute them the week before and during the exhibition so it stayed fresh in people’s minds.
2. Range of prices
We had a range of different priced pieces ranging from 50p postcards right up to £300 framed originals; this worked really well for us. Our most popular pieces were from our £10 ‘wonky drawing’ range.
3. Remember snacks!
This is an important one to remember, particularly if you are doing a solo show, as you may have to sit in the gallery all day which is surprisingly exhausting!
People love a freebie (me included!). You could give out stickers, postcards, posters etc. These are all fairly cheap to get printed but act as a great prompt to get you talking to customers.
5. Plenty of business cards
I ran out of business cards on the third day, which was silly. Ideally you want to be able to put one in with every purchase and also have them to hand to give out to people who are interested in your work but don’t want to commit to buying something on the day–this means they can look you up online which could possibly lead to sales.
6. Scope out the venue in advance
You want to get an idea of footfall in particular. We put on our exhibition at Gallery 40 [http://www.gallery40.co.uk] which is a lovely little space right in the heart of the North Laines in Brighton, it has excellent footfall and is right near the main train station.
7. Bring something to do
I am not a pushy saleswoman, so whether I’m doing a craft fair or an exhibition, I like to allow people to just browse without feeling intimidated. I say hi when the customer walks in, but that’s it unless it’s clear they want to chat. I personally hate it when you go into a shop and they start chatting to you! I bought a sketchbook and my laptop with me so I could get on with work whilst people were browsing. It’s also good to look busy and can be interesting for people if they get to see you ‘in action’, in my case, drawing strange naked people in my sketchbook.
8. Share the show
Charlie Simpson [http://charlie-simpson.co.uk] and I worked on the show together. It’s really nice to be able to share the experience with someone and also to halve the workload and cost.
9. Be friendly
Putting on an exhibition is less about making money and more about meeting people. We met a lot of really lovely, friendly local artists, photographers and illustrators. I hate the term ‘networking’ but I guess that is what it is, a lot of the people Charlie and I met during the week we plan to keep in touch with and work on projects with in the future.
10. Window displays
We were lucky enough to have a beautiful space with excellent, huge windows. We used them as a way to draw people in – we put large, interesting pieces in the windows along with 3D items. We had a lot of people walk past and stop to look at the bits in the window. Often pointing and laughing at our weird characters