Setting Up an Exhibit

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After scrambling to get everything framed, strung with hanging hardware and wire, priced, and labeled, we were generously given a full week to hang our work. We didn't need that much time, but it allowed us to wait until after a big rainstorm passed. All of my co-exhibitor's work was on watercolor or pastel paper, and we didn't want to risk getting them wet. Framing always takes longer than I think it will, although I get faster every time I do it. What surprised me most was how much time it took to get everything else prepared.

Coming up with a title for each piece required some thought, and we had to decide what information we wanted on the labels. We would need a simple wall label with the title, artist name, medium, and price. We would also need labels on the back of the artwork that included more complete information, such as our website address, full contact information, where the work was painted (if applicable), date and copyright symbol, and details about the materials used.  We use only 100% archival materials and methods. Because of the surprising number of non archival artist materials on the market, we felt it was a good idea to list this fact on the label. I also included information about the type of varnish I used, a useful bit of information in the event someone needs to clean one of my paintings in the future.

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Based on my research, pricing methods seem to fall into two main categories -- price by square inch and price per linear inch. Each has its advantages, but with square inch pricing (width x height), I end up with a bigger spread between the lowest and highest price. Since my smaller paintings were akin to daily paintings, and my bigger paintings had more detail and took relatively longer to paint, I thought this would be a good approach.

The next big decision was what price multiplier to use. I decided to multiply the total square inches by $1, which ended up with pricing that was somewhat in line with those I've seen among intermediate artists in recent art shows I have attended. For example, my largest, a 20x30 inch framed painting, was priced at $600 using this model. My smallest 8x10 inch framed painting was $95. If I had gone with price per linear inch (width + height x multiplier of $10), those paintings would have been $500 and $180 respectively.  I felt that would have caused my small paintings to be overpriced.

This particular venue is not a well known destination for viewing or buying art. Most of the people who walk the halls are not in the market for buying original art. Being emerging artists, we don't have much of a following to draw likely buyers to the gallery. This was a poor test for my pricing method, but I plan to use it in the future to determine if I should raise or lower my $1 multiplier. 

The final element was actually hanging the work on the wall. The Commons Gallery is well lit with both natural and gallery lighting. It also has a professional hanging system from GalleryOne that was versatile and easy to use. Because of how the lighting bounced around, the paintings under glass had to be hung on one side of the Commons area. We put our two best and most striking paintings near the signage and pedestal where our artist statements, business cards, and guest book were placed. For good measure, we set up a second pedestal with business cards and set out bowls of candy to entice viewers to slow down and enjoy the paintings.