Sunday, June 6, 2010

Create an art show at your place of business for your customers and generate new clients.

You’re a savvy business owner or company and want to support the local arts community and help discover the next Van Gogh or Picasso. Congratulations you are a special creative individual and or business. As an artist, business person, or art lover the benefits of having such an art show or event are unlimited. Art is a multi billion dollar industry and is tied to everything in our daily lives. It can greatly help your business as well.

Banks, hotels, and restaurants are just a few familiar venues that have invited artists to show work to their customers so why not then you too? You have the space and the patrons the artist has the artwork and also the patrons, when done correctly it's a creative win-win situation.

How do I know this? As an internationally collected artist, best-selling author, consultant to shows, gallery owner and publisher I have participated in mounting hundreds of art exhibits across the country. Some have included my art and others have not. Some have been at Museums, Community Centers, Art Galleries, Non-Profit Organizations, Hospitals, Retail Stores, Attorneys Offices, Hotels, Coffee Shops, Hair salons, Day Spas, Doctors Offices, Restaurants, Banks, Private Homes, Art fairs, Real Estate Open Houses and offices, Street Festivals, Pet Hospitals, and could ad to this list add infinitum. Basically where ever your patrons are there is an art show to be given and usually readily wanted and have always had the most fun at the most unexpected places where everybody got involved. Back in the early 1990's One of those places was at The LAC-USC Hospital in Los Angeles, California where one wonderful patient's vision was shared and together we created a show for the patients by the patients and before you knew it, everyone was involved from the patients to the administration, doctors, nurses and out into the community. Everybody became united together and we received national attention right up to the White House. Suddenly what was a bleak and scary section of the hospital where no one wanted to go changed and became a vibrant place where others on the campus and surrounding communities wanted to be part of. Art can do things like that.
I want to help you out! I certainly don't know everything but after receiving many phone calls, emails, and letters asking many of the same questions over the years being constantly invited to sit on the boards of arts organizations, I believe I may know some things about this.

The most asked questions are: How do you get an art show?
How do I mount an art show?
How do I put an art show together?
How do I get people to show up for my event?
Is my art good?
Then there are all doubting quetions that come along with it. Like “But you're much better artist at what you do.” and “But you've got a book published about your art., But you're art has been in a museum.” The excuses go on and on. I say Horse pucky to all that.

What it takes is having a dream, making decisions, persistence, being kind, considerate, empathetic and fair. You will see the opportunities unfold before you.
You've got to want it. The best of the best will come. You will attract it, your, artists, your shows, your patrons, and the benefits from it.

I am most familiar with 2 dimensional art. That is art that hangs on walls, or can be displayed on easels, like paintings or photos, and you may apply some of this to other types of exhibits also. As I have said to artists and over the years, "anyone can hold the door open for you, including yourself, but ultimately it is you that needs to make the decision and walk through that door". So get into action and Go Get em! The artists await you. The walls of the world await you. Perhaps even your walls and your business could become the next place to be seen!

What are the things you need to do or have an art show or exhibit?

A Dream, Planning, Organization, Good Faith, Action, good Communication and the most important, having fun!

Here’s a checklist made up of questions that you can use to develop your fantastic exhibit.

1. Do you have an Artist or Artists? Do you want to have a theme? Choose something that fits with your business, community. Themes also give the artist a new chance to be creative. Have fun with this. You will be dazzled by the talent that is out there.

2. Group Show or Solo Art Show? Do you want to deal with one artist or many? One on one is sometimes easier. A group show features more than one artist. If you chose to do this I recommend no more than three artists for the first time. A solo show with one artist is most likely the best choice for your first showing.

3. Where do you find artists? Put out an artist call in your local paper and your website. Create a fan page on Facebook or other social media outlets. The artists will come. Ask them to come in person, by appointment with their portfolio, or your mail carrier will get upset. Set up a specific interview time and hold the artists to it. This is a job interview for the both of you. This reassures professional and hobby artists you are serious. This will be a fun learning experience. An artist who can’t show up for an interview will have problems following through in many others areas as well.

4. What kind of experience does the artist have? Ask for a Bio and exhibition history. Ask for photos from previous shows and set ups. This could be a big break for a new upcoming artist and they may not have either. That's OK, Tell them to bring photos of at least 20 art pieces and three originals. You will then if there is consistency in the art they make.

5. Ask to see samples only of work that is available for exhibition. If you award a show based on what you saw, make sure it's available. Sometimes artist have prints of their work, this may be acceptable if a piece is sold that you really like, however most patrons like to see originals. You be the judge of what you want to hang in your place of business. Make a note book with a calendar and a file for each artist in it. Put the artist contact info on the top of the file. Photo copy the artists info and give it back. The artist will tell you if you can keep it or not. Just ask. Artists spend a fortune on promotional materials, film, slides, cd's, memory cards, and never see 99% of them returned even when a self addressed envelope is provided. You can change that by being considerate and respecting the artist’s time and value.

6. The artist’s reputation. What is his or her reputation around town? Ask for references and follow up on them. Artist's usually love to brag. Do they have a website? Check it out. Do a Google search. Some artists are ready to go with a show at all times, others are not. This will work in your favor as when you want to schedule your shows. Go with your gut instinct, You can get a good or bad feeling right away. remember this is supposed to be fun! Like the old saying goes "If it aint fun, you're not doing it right!"

7. What sort of art does the artist show? Is the artwork consistent? How big is the art? You'll want to see at least 20 pieces of similar quality in a portfolio, or in person. Pieces should be marked with Title, medium (such as oil, acrylic, photograph, etc.) size, year created.

8. What is the quality of the artist presentation? Are they business savvy, regarding marketing and PR. Be kind, be fair, and be respectful, the artist may be disorganized but just could be the right fit for your show. Remember new artists are learning the ropes too and some artists may just always be aloof with their presentations.

9. How will this help your business? Displaying a local artist with a great reputation can be a blessing however disturbing, political or overtly sexual art might not work or it might be just fine depending on your business. Is the art safe? Does it have jagged edges that could injure someone? Or parts that could fall off? Use you best judgment and say which pieces you would like to exhibit. Ask about the art, a portfolio photo is flat and the art might not be.

10. You can make a decision then and there if you want to exhibit your new artist or you may want to get back to them at another time. If you choose to get back to them at another time tell them when and stick to it. If you choose not to exhibit the artist be professional, artists may be used to rejection but no one likes to be mistreated. Don't critique the art or call it STUFF, that is common but be respectful, artists cringe when they hear their art being called "stuff". So just tell them you appreciate the work and it doesn't fit with your vision at this time.

11. What will it cost you for promotion if any? Invitations/postcards if any? Do you or the artist pay for that? Are costs shared? The best thing to do would be design a postcard that is an add for your business and promotes your artist at the same time. (You keeping control of your Marketing and PR the best way to go however some artists are brilliant marketers, if they want to take it upon themselves to design promotion, be sure to tell them anything with your business on it must be approved. If promo looks amazing by all means offer to share the cost. You may have found a new asset to you business with out even realizing it.)

12. Do you have a contract if anything gets damaged? Do you have insurance for that? If not is the artist responsible for their own liability insurance? How about hanging the art? Will you or the artist be doing that? Some artists want to be present if they are not hanging the work, some don't care, some have great sense of how the work should be displayed, others do not. Do you or the artist supply proper picture hangers or easels? Be upfront and have both parties sign a document stating what is what.

13. Will you have an opening reception for the artist? (this will be your responsibility but don't be afraid to ask for help) Or will the art just be on display?

14. Free PR can go a million miles in the community, be sure to give the artist the correct name of your business and address. Nothing like printing up expensive give a-ways, sending out Press Releases and spelling your business or the artist name incorrectly.

15. Are the pieces on consignment? For sale? Do you get a cut? Or is this an amenity for your customers? Things to think about. Incentives for your employees can sell art; discuss business opportunities with the artist and your fellow employees.

16. Is the artist a licensed, incorporated business person? If they are you have a smart and savvy business person who may be of tremendous benefit to you.

17. How long does the art hang for? Put it in your contract. 60-90 days gives you an opportunity to change your art at a reasonable pace. Shorter shows can be burdensome to both you and the artist and you walls. If the artist needs some of the work for another show, ask them to be accommodating and if possible give at least 24 hours notice. Say If the artist or you want the whole show to come down which can happen. Do you have another artist lined up to fill in or bump up into their slot? What happens when the Art comes down and needs to be picked up? Your place of business is neither a garage sale or storage unit. State that storage fees will be imposed if work is not picked up in a timely manner, the end of show would be a timely manner. The best thing to do may be to always have the artist on hand when putting up and taking down shows. Will this take place before, during or after business hours?

18. Does the art hang on walls, easels, pedestals? Is it secure? Is safe? Is it too fragile? Think about these things? Could glass shatter? Acrylic may be a better alternative in framing large pieces.

19. Are frames unsightly? Good condition when they arrive? Are they in good condition when the show comes down?

20. If canvas is unframed are the edges to look presentable? Ask for edges to be painted and finished.

21. If the work is for sale who handles payments and collects sales tax? Do patrons deal directly with the artist or you? You may want to keep this accounting separate from your everyday business.

22. Most artists are easy to work with, ask them what they want, they are the boss of their art work and you are the boss of your place of business, be respectful of each other and you will make some great bonds in your business community. Have fun and you will learn lots about art and artist as you become a friend of your arts community.

23. Word will eventually get out that you are showing art and the artists may be knocking your door down to get in and have a show. Some business have a select group of artists they deal with, as artist’s leave, move on they replace them with new artist. Unless you love the process of mounting a show or have a designated employee that handles the art shows you may find the more power you give the artist to be responsible with their show the easier things will flow for you. Tell the artist what you expect and what you want. Keep the communication open, One or more your artists may even work out so well with you that they may assist you in your handling of art procedures.

24. Create a mailing list of people interested in the art show and for future shows and developing new customers and retaining current ones for your newsletters, website and correspondence.

25. Opening Night. Have the artist say a few words at the opening about your business, and agree ahead of time what will be said. Tell the artist what you expect and what you want.
Recapping what is needed to do or have an art show or exhibit?

A Dream, Planning, Organization - make a check-off list from the suggestions above, artists, artwork, and Action and the most important, having fun!
Like I said before: The artists await you. Your customers and new clients and the world await you and your walls and your place of business will be the next hot spot in town place to be seen! You may even change the way the world sees things.
Best wishes to you!

RD Riccoboni, The Art Traveler

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