having your art exhibition

excellent articles by Nalina Malaviya. see her blog for many more


Remember the earlier article on organizing an art exhibition, here’s another one, which new and upcoming artists may find useful. This was written and published in Financial Times, Bangalore (June, 2004). The information is quite relevant today as well, however, the rates mentioned at the end of the article may not be valid.

Art exhibition – behind the scenesBy Nalini S Malaviya

The art market is booming in Bangalore, and if art dealers and experts are to be believed this is just the beginning. The next few years should see the city as a more mature and happening art scene. While, established artists command higher prices, the good news is there is a growing market for fresh talent. According to artist Gurudas Shenoy it is great that architects and corporates are factoring in artworks within their budgets. So, not only private collectors but also interior designers are on the look out for great art at rational prices for their clients. This is where young artists can score with reasonable pricing. Although art is not a commodity, it does need to be showcased well so as to reach the buyer. As Shenoy explains, just as a film launch is done with great fanfare, art shows too need to be presented well and it is important for artists to do their homework thoroughly.

Planning a showGallery owner, Renu George suggests, “artists must have a show only when the quality of their work is first-rate and they are ready to take responsibility for their works”. She says it is important to have their works assessed by a few gallery owners or from a knowledgeable source. Galleries are sometimes booked weeks to months in advance, it is therefore advisable to select and book a place while working on the collection. You could also visit art galleries with a portfolio of your works to look for sponsorship. Some galleries when sponsoring an artists take care of the invitation card/catalogue, sending out the invites, press coverage and organizing a preview. Gallery owner, Gita Maini says, “I end up spending around Rs. 50,000 per show, when I sponsor an artist”.

When you rent a gallery either on a per day basis or a package that the space may offer, you are responsible for the logistics, although some galleries will guide you informally. It helps to print a catalogue or an invitation card with at least one of the paintings to generate an interest in the show. Presentation and media interest in the show are a must – the artworks must be packaged well in frames that are subtle, that will hold the work together and should be finalized only after a lot of thinking, advises Shenoy. A press release or note must be sent out a few days in advance to ensure the print matter coincides with the exhibition dates. Also, if you are organizing a preview, don’t forget to invite the media – reviews always help.

Reducing Overheads
Renu George suggests, “upcoming artists could do a group show or hire a small part of the gallery to keep overheads in check”. It is important to price the works reasonably, after all why should one buy a new artist’s painting versus a fairly established one. According to Shenoy the pricing should increase progressively over the years as the works reflect maturity and experience. Also, sales don’t necessarily happen during exhibitions, a studio is another place where prospective buyers can approach and a good ambience can make all the difference. Whenever possible, artists should invest in having a good facility with sufficient comfort factor, this also establishes the seriousness of the artist. Success doesn’t come easy and in an instant, well not always, artists should keep an open mind to all kinds of art, especially in the initial stages when one is trying to make a living as an artist. They could do freelance commercial work or portraits and basically be open to any creative outlet, advises Shenoy.

Some costsFrames: Rs 30 per meter to Rs 600 per foot
Gallery rental: Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 per day
Gallery commission: 20% to 40%
Invitation card: Rs 3.50 per piece for 2000 copies (without photograph)
Rs 10 per piece for 200 copies (without photograph)
Rs 10 per piece for 2000 copies (with photograph)
Postage costs extra
Preview costs vary according to the menu and the number of invitees, usually galleries
prefer to get these events sponsored.


Preparing to exhibit your artworks

There are a number of self-taught and aspiring artists and photographers who tend to build a body of work over time.  One of the most common requests I get on social media networks is to look at images and give feedback to the artist if the artworks are ready to be publicly exhibited, if yes, how does one go about it and which galleries they could approach.

Critiquing and curating artworks for public display is a time consuming process and cannot be undertaken either briefly or instantly over social networks. In all probability the responses you get in such cases is unlikely to help you put together an art show.

Here are a few pointers to help you initiate the process:

  • If you are unsure of the quality of your work, it would be advisable to get professional opinion on it. Look for an art consultant, curator or even a gallerist who can critique the works and also guide you towards having an art exhibition.
  • Alternately, if you feel comfortable and are able to be objective about your art you can choose the best works from your entire collection. Please ensure you have a common theme or thread running through them. Make sure you have a sufficient number of artworks. Also, be clear that you are ready to show your art in public and to face critique.
  • It would also be a good idea to visit as many art exhibitions as possible, preferably curated art shows hosted at art galleries in your city.  What this will do is give you a perspective of where your art stands vis a vis other artists in terms of technical skills, composition, use of colours, theme and so on.  It will also give you an overall sense about displaying art.
  • If you do have a substantial body of work which is exhibit friendly, you could directly approach local art galleries. It would be advisable to make a portfolio of your works to show them. Sending soft copies of portfolios over e-mails may work, but these days one receives so many mails and images that despite good intentions, once it slides to the bottom of the mail display page, it is easy to forget about it.
  • Approach galleries that specialize in your art domain (painting, photograph, sculpture, etc) or those who showcase diverse art forms.

Related posts,

How to organize an art exhibition

Art Exhibition – Behind the scenes=-


How to Organize an Art ExhibitionTips on organizing a successful art exhibition

Recently, there has been a spurt in the number of art exhibitions in Bangalore. At some of these shows it was disheartening to see that there were hardly any visitors, almost no media coverage and consequently no sales. For all upcoming artists who are not sponsored by art galleries, organizing an exhibition of their artworks is a challenge in itself. Unfortunately, talent by itself is not sufficient, marketing and packaging have become very important ingredients in defining one’s success in almost every field.

Marketing is not a part of fine arts curriculum in India and although most artists acquire this ability over time, it helps to start right. A combination of creativity, good communication skills, marketing ability and media savvy-ness makes for a successful recipe. And, as most artists will agree, planning for an art show – preview, mailing lists, media coverage, details of the event all require extensive planning to ensure the success of an art show. Here, I have listed out a few points, which may help the new and upcoming artists.

Have ties
It helps to have some kind of a tie-up with an established and reputed art gallery. However, it is not always an easy task and if you are organizing an art exhibition completely on your own, it is important to start planning well before the event. Most art galleries are booked six months to a few years in advance, therefore depending on the timeframe, one can utilize the time to work out the nitty-gritty of the show.

It helps to organize a preview or an inauguration of the exhibition. These days, many hotels like to be associated with art related events and they could also be approached to provide the venue. Some hotels will do so in exchange of a painting. One can also look for a sponsor who can take care of the cocktails/appetizers for the evening. Do a cost estimate to have an idea about the expenses involved.

Invite and Catalogue
Design a nice invitation card with one or more of your paintings and ensure all relevant details are covered in it. If possible plan to have a catalogue, however this is more often done with sponsored shows.

Mailing list
Many art galleries in return for the rent of their premises will lend their mailing list. Sometimes mailing lists are also available on payment. It helps to have a local contact who can guide you in the right direction.
Plan in such a way that the invite reaches everyone about a week before the event.
If you plan on having a chief guest/guest of honor you will have to work simultaneously on confirming their availability.

‘Press kit’
Remember media plays an important role in providing press coverage and thereby determining the numbers that will visit the show. Put together a ‘press kit’ on a CD – photographs of artworks, artist profile & photograph, write-up on the exhibition such as what is the theme of the show, why was it chosen, what inspires you, how is it different from your earlier works, copy of a catalogue, if any, and an e-invite.
The press kit must be distributed to all local newspapers, magazines and television channel networks. This should be done at least 1 to 3 weeks in advance. If you would like to be covered in various section/supplements of a newspaper, remember, sending a single copy of the press kit is not enough. Take the trouble to find out who heads each section/supplement and mark different sets of the press kit to each of them.
Often freelance writers/art critics cover art related events, if you know their contact details, send them the press kit as well and follow up with a phone call. Alternately, leave a copy of the kit with the respective newspaper office and request them to forward it to the freelancer.

Follow up with a phone call to all the important people who you have invited for the event. Confirm again with your special guests. Please do not hound your guests and reporters with repeated phone calls this can put them off. Some galleries send out smses a day or two before the event to remind guests, one can follow this procedure as well.

If all this is too complicated and you have the cash to spare, hire a PR firm to take care of the publicity. Arty parties are very popular with the press for the Page 3 events section; so don’t forget to invite the press for the preview. Inviting the who’s who of the city will also make sure that the media takes an added interest in the event.

Send in your comments and suggestions (e-mail) on what more can be done to organize a good and successful art show.