How to Prepare for an Art Show in Twenty Steps

Step One:

See the call for artist submission. Tell yourself that’s probably for better, more established artists and maybe you will apply later.

Step Two:

Gain some confidence and decide to apply for the show. Why the heck not?


Step Three:

Start looking through the application and realize you probably need to look like a “legit” artist. Decide this means you probably need to make a website.


Step Four:

Realize that in order to make a website you need to decide on an artist “brand.” Brainstorm ideas, ask everyone you know what they think, check for available domain names and decide on a name that represents everything you currently do with your art, but also what might work for future ideas.

Step Five:

Buy a domain name and choose a website building platform that works for you. You are an artist, not a graphic designer. Therefore you will need a website that is “dummy proof.” Also consult anyone you know who is a graphic designer for their opinion and wish you had enough money to just pay them to do it for you.

Step Six:

Now that you have a website, you definitely need to have Instagram. These days, if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen, right?

Step Seven:

Looking pretty legit aren’t you! Time to submit your application for the show. Optimistically hope that you’ll get in but always have a shred of doubt that you won’t.

Step Eight:

Get accepted into the art show! Celebrate! Get excited! Then, a few minutes later, realize all the work you now have to do to prepare for it. It’s an art show, so you’ll need to start making lots of art!

Step Nine:

Go out and buy art supplies. Set yourself a budget. Get to the art store and get distracted by all the pretty, shiny, nice supplies and end up spending way more than you planned. But it’s ok, because you’re going to make millions from your artwork.

Step Ten:

Start making all the art. Have lots of fun with it in the first few weeks. Take your time, enjoy every minute, and make art that inspires you. Consume a fair amount of wine to keep yourself motivated.

Step Eleven:

Start advertising your show! Blast your social media contacts with all the details. Assume everyone is going to be as excited as you about it. Everyone is definitely going to come!

Step Twelve:

Getting closer to the art show. Start thinking about how much you want everyone to like your art and want to buy it. Maybe they won’t like your favourite pieces? Do you really want to let go of your favourites anyway? Start making some art that would please other people, but isn’t your favourite. This way you can part with it, but people will also buy it.


Step Thirteen:

Getting very close to the show now! So many things to do! No time to eat, or sleep or relax. Have a mental breakdown from the lack of the previously mentioned. All famous artists had major breakdowns right?

Step Fourteen:

Get yourself together! You can do this! In fact, make a “to do” list. Makes things seem much more manageable. It’s fun to check things off the list.

Step Fifteen:

Realize you can’t do it all by yourself. Enlist help! Everyone and anyone! Ask the guy standing next to you in line at the hardware store if they could maybe come help you put hanging wire on all your pieces? Please?

Step Sixteen:

Price your artwork. This part is tricky. If you actually calculate the hours you put in plus cost of materials you realize that no one can possibly afford your hard work. Price your artwork well below reasonable rates, probably kick yourself for it later. Make prints of some of your pieces. Not everyone can afford your masterpieces. You have to provide different price points for people.

Step Seventeen:

Decide how you would like to display your artwork. Lay everything out on the floor. Move everything a couple of times until looks good enough, take a picture for future reference and move on.

Step Eighteen: The night before the art show.

Plan on getting a good night sleep. Maybe spend some time on your appearance to erase the late nights and lack of nutrition in the past few weeks. Throw on a facemask, do your nails, have a good shower and scrub all the paint off your body. How did you get paint in your armpit, we will never know. Go to bed early. Probably won’t get a good sleep despite your best efforts. It’s like the night before Christmas and excitement prevents all ZZZs from coming. Instead stay up obsessing over every detail you have planned for the next day.

Step Nineteen: The day of the art show.

So exciting! You did everything you could to be prepared for this day. Likely you will show up at the venue and have forgotten something despite all the checklists and reminders. Oh well. You make do with what you have. Set everything up, admire your work, and take pictures of it. Now, get changed into something that reminds you that you are a human that can look pretty nice from time to time. Put your game face on! The people are coming! Tuck your introvert self into your back pocket. Today you have to be friendly to everyone that comes by and really sell your art to them. Have a great time! Have a drink! Sell some pieces! Enjoy all the compliments coming your way.

Step Twenty: After the art show.

CRASH! Take some well-deserved rest. Until next time…