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Applying to Art Shows - You Want to Ship What?

If you are applying to a gallery show out of town, chances are you will need to ship your work to them.

 

Shipping artwork has it's own set of challenges. There are several facors you'll need to take into account. Most major carriers have pretty good info on their websites. Do a little research online so you can be a bit more prepared.

 

First there's the cost - shipping can be really expensive: weight = $, additionally oversize often costs more. Check out the online rate charts and see what size limitations may apply. Keep in mind that your packing materials will add to both the final weight and final size of your items.

 

Think about insurance - some carriers won't insure "Art". You may choose to go without freight insurance, but then you'll need to decide whether you can tolerate not being compensated if your work is lost or damaged in transit. If you need to insure your work, make sure that the shipping company will actually pay damages on the type of work you are sending.

 

Learn how to package your work properly. Most carriers have guidelines for how things should be packed. I used to receive pieces for a craft gallery and believe me I've seen some pretty funky stuff in regards to improperly packed artwork. Here's the deal - if you pack it improperly and it is damaged in transit, it's your problem - not the shipping company's - regardless of whether it's insured or not. Make sure you follow the carrier's requirements for shipping regarding packing materials, double-boxing, etc.

 

Think about the fragility of the items you wish to send. Some pieces are extremely fragile and may be more subject to damage in transit, no matter how carefully you pack them.

 

Also, keep in mind that in the event that your piece does not sell at the show, it will have to be shipped back to you. You will probably have to foot the bill for the return shipping costs. Check with the venue regarding their policies for return shipments.

 

Some venues do not have storage space for packing materials - this may cause issues. If they are willing to store and re-use your packing, make sure it is sturdy enough for a return trip. It's also not a bad idea to mark your name on it somewhere so your artwork actually has a chance of being returned in your packaging. You may also have to provide a preprinted and/or prepaid return label.

 

Make sure repacking your artwork for return is a fairly straight forward job. If it is difficult to repack, the gallery staff may have trouble with it and you may not be happy with the results.

 

Thinking about shipping before applying to a show may save you from scrambling at the last minute to properly pack your work or being surprised by an exhorbitant freight charge when you go to ship it.

 

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Applying to Art Shows - How Will it Hang?

Applying to Art Shows - Don't Split Your Personality

Applying to Art Shows - Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit

Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

 

Next: Applying to Art Shows - Oops! You're Insured Right?

Applying to Art Shows - How Will it Hang?

Think about ease of installation of artwork you submit for gallery shows...most likely you won't be the one installing it. After all, you don't want your work crashing to the floor because the installation was too difficult for a gallery employee to manage easily.

 

Pay particular attention to weight/size/display limits outlined in the prospectus. They are there for a reason. If you disregard their stated limits, most likely your artwork won't be allowed into the show.

 

Make sure all hangers are secure, bases are stable for display, etc. Remember that you won't be there the whole time to watch over your artwork. The general public will be in and out of the space. Even if its a venue with a strict "do not touch" policy, not everyone listens and accidents do happen. You don't want someone to be able to easily knock your painting off the wall or your sculpture off of its stand.

 

Previous:

Applying to Art Shows - Don't Split Your Personality

Applying to Art Shows - Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit

Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

 

Next: Applying to Art Shows - You Want to Ship What?

Applying to Art Shows - Don't Split Your Personality

When you are applying to an art show or gallery, submit a unified body of work. You need to show the jury that you have a vision, a voice as an artist. Scattered work in terms of styles/voice makes you look inexperienced. This doesn't mean you can't experiment with your work- it just means that for any particular show you should submit a body of work with a clear focus.

 

Also, when submitting images of several pieces, make sure the images look good together as a group. Sometimes jurors will view each image individually - other times they will view your entire submission at once - you just never know. Make sure that your images read well both individually and as a group.

 

More Tip on Applying to Art Shows:

 

Previous:

Applying to Art Shows - Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit

Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

 

Next: Applying to Art Shows - How Will it Hang?

Applying to Art Shows - Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Now that you've found a show/gallery/fair you would like to apply to, it's time to get your images picked out for your submission.

 

Let's face it, the competition to get into quality shows is fierce. You need to put your best foot forward. Professional looking images of your artwork are essential.

 

Look at photos of your art work with a critical eye. Pay particular attention to focus, lighting, and compositon. Choose only shots that make you and your work look professional.

 

Photography skills require practice. And, photographing artwork requires its own special set of skills.

 

On a side note, these days everyone has a camera on their phone/tablet - and some of these devices do have the capability of taking really great pictures. However, just like with regular cameras, the skill of the photographer makes all the difference in the quality of the image.

 

If you have not yet developed the skillset to take professional looking shots of your artwork, you should consider hiring a professional photographer who is well versed in this type of photography.

 

Don't know what constitutes a professional looking image?

 

For standard square or rectangular artwork in two dimensions, it's an image cropped ony to show the artwork - no background peeking through and no frame unless it's an intrinsic part of the piece. It should be evenly lit and and clearly focused.

 

For unusually shaped work and three dimensional art, the work should fill as much of the frame as possible. Again try to get the lighting as even as possible - watch out for hotspots, reflections, and deep shadows. Focus on 3d work can be a bit trickier because you may not be able to get everything to look crisp. Make sure the most important parts are in crisp and that anything not in focus is not distracting.

 

Check out our photo tips for more info.

 

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Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit

Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

 

Next: Applying to Art Shows - Don't Split Your Personality

 

Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit

When applying to an art fair or gallery show, make sure your work "Fits" the show theme, gallery style, etc. As I mentioned in my previous post, if it's local check it out in person. If not, research online - most shows/galleries have some semblance of a website.

 

You needn't waste your time (or the jury's) applying to a show that's not appropriate for you or your work - say for example by sending images of your traditional representative work to a gallery that only shows abstract art.

 

This goes for the show's theme as well. Don't send landscape images to a portrait themed show. Believe it or not some artists do this - either they don't read the prospectus thoroughly or they figure that their work is so good that they can somehow slide it past the jury. Doing so will get you a reputation, and not a good one, it shows you don't value you the jury's/show's time.

 

On this note- make sure you follow the submission guidelines- for the same reason- not following guidelines wastes the jury's time and may get your submission thrown out.

 

Previous: Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

 

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Applying to Art Shows - Do a Background Check

Do a little research about any show before applying.

 

Whether you receive an email invitation to apply or you hear about a show through an advertisement or word of mouth, the first thing you should do is try to find out more information about it.

 

Make sure the show sponsor/gallery is legitimate and above board in its dealings. There have been stories of scams so you want to protect yourself. Also, I and some of my artist friends have had issues with galleries that are careless with work or don't pay their bills. Sometimes a quick Google search will tell you if others have had problems with a show or gallery in the past.

 

Google the sponsor/gallery. Look at their website and make sure that looks professional. Do they advertise? Do they participate in social media? Check out the work of other artists they represent - you might even contact one or two of them for references.

 

If the show is local, try to visit the venue. Go to the gallery and check out the space, note the manner in which they display the art - Are the works displayed professionally? Do any show sign of damage from improper handling? Look at the exhibition space - Is the gallery clean? Is it well organized? Pay attention to the staff - Do they seem professional and well-informed? Attend an opening - Is it well trafficked? Does it look like they are making sales?

 

Reach out to other artists you know and see what they have to say about the show/venue - ask questions about such things as care and handling of artwork, turnout for shows, and promptness of payment for sold items.

 

For art fairs/festivals - if possible, visit the show the year previous to applying. That way you can get a sense of the quality of the fair itself and the artwork being shown, see what's selling, get a sense of the crowd, and speak to other artists (see my artist's guide to visiting an artfair).

 

Doing a bit of legwork before even applying to a show will help you prepare for what to expect and may even save you money and potential heartache.

 

Next: Applying to Art Shows - Get the Right Fit