When you arrive at an art show as a patron, you see beautiful displays with spectacular artwork. From the perspective of a visitor, it may seem like you’ve walked into a storefront that’s always been there. The art hangs perfectly, giving you a sense of how wonderful it could look in your home. The smaller prints are packaged neatly, displayed, and ready for purchase. As a viewer, you probably never stop and think about how the art got there.
Planning and Producing Inventory
For an artist, preparing art for a show begins weeks, if not months, in advance. After each art show, I have to evaluate what sold, what I need to re-order, and which images I have enough of. There’s some analytics involved in this, though some of it is pure luck. At each show, I sell different images and mediums, and if I haven’t done a particular show previously, figuring out what I need can be as much work as doing the show itself.
My art is printed by a third party company, so I have to submit my order at least a week in advance. I have to ensure the printer has the image and then decide how many of each medium I want. The printer then sends me proof of the order, I make any corrections, then we finalize, and the printing begins.
Readying the Work
Usually, the order’s ready within one week and I drive to the printer to pick up and pay. Once I have my prints, I sign, title, and number (if it’s a limited edition) each print. If the medium is a print, not canvas or metal, I have the additional step of bagging each individual image. I wear gloves to help prevent damage to the prints. Then I confirm they’re all bagged correctly, including envelopes for notecards.
The Final Cut
Next, come the final decisions about which art to take to the show. Some things to consider are the geographical location of the show, what size space I have there, and how much art I have space to display. I then pick out each piece, from notecards to large paper prints, and put them all together to be packed and transported.
Prepping art for a show is so much more than loading the art into my truck and hauling it there. It starts weeks before, choosing images, ordering, signing, and packaging. The art prep is one of the most important and timely parts of preparing for an art show.