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5 Traits of a Successful Art Show


You’ve worked hard. The art is amazing. The dates are set.  Now what? For starters, decide your definition of a successful art show.

Sales are important. But, do sales alone constitute a successful art show?

No. In fact, as important as they are, they’re not at all the biggest hallmark of a successful show.

An exhibit is but one element of the overall art marketing picture.  An important element to be sure, but still, only a piece of the complete puzzle.

Plainly put: if you’re relying, exclusively, on the show for art sales, you’re missing out on future promotion, visibility, and ultimately, art sales later down the line that can be sparked by a successful art show.

Whatever your approach, always include these critical elements:

  1. A positive mindset: A given, perhaps, but sometimes forgotten. Butterflies and high-hopes are normal. Don’t count visitor attendance, number of pieces sold, or sales amount as criteria for success. If an exhibit has high attendance but minimal sales, that’s still excellent visibility. If an exhibit has low attendance, opening night is just the beginning of the show and your marketing has just begun. Once more, opening receptions are the beginning and not the end. Keeping this fact in mind from the get-go will provide a sense of confidence.
  2. Printed materials: Visitors are interested in the works and the artist or they would spend their time elsewhere. That being said, your visitors want and need information about the artist, the venue, and the works. Always have take-home material available: postcards from a mailing, brochures explaining/introducing the show, artist, and/or available art. Even a biography and description printed on half-size sheets of paper will provide visitors with additional information to cultivate continued interest. Give your visitors something to take with them.
  3. Price variety: Offer works in a variety of price ranges. Prices can vary from original works of several thousand dollars to cards for less than $10 and everything in between. Give all income and interest levels an opportunity to buy art.
  4. Engage visitors: Your the host. Atmosphere should be one of your biggest considerations. You’re mingling with the guests and introducing yourself; it’s also your job to introduce your guests to each other. A positive, pleasant ‘experience’ has a huge impact on their memory of the show and the art – and will impact future sales and referrals.
  5. Guest Book: A guest book is common at an art exhibit. Unfortunately, they’re not always used for their potential. Guest books are a marketing tool; use them as such. Create clear fields for visitor contact information, not just their name. If someone leaves their email or home address in a guest book, they clearly want more information and updates in the future. Give it them by staying in contact.

Finally, and most importantly, follow up with your guests and continue promoting your show throughout it’s duration. Remind them of works available, schedules and business hours throughout the length of the show – and stay in touch with your visitors past the show as well.

Don’t rely on First Friday, Final Friday, Third Thursday, opening reception (or anything similar) as your only marketing point. Remember, your promoting the work and the artist/s and not just the event. A successful art show requires marketing, communication, and relationship building long past the calendar dates of the actual event.

The biggest goal of a successful art show is to cultivate long-term followers and supporters.

Your take away: Generating future sales and growing art event attendance happens with each action. Art marketing is about considering the future and not one event alone. Build supporters and cultivate relationships and sales will follow.



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