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5 Tools to Being Successful in Art Shows

Although I am far from being an expert at participating in art shows, I do have some experience in being rejected, getting in, and participating in shows. I recently got into a show (which you can see at the Kendall Gallery in San Angelo, Texas), and a lot of old anxieties reared their ugly heads as I went through the submission and acceptance process. I wrote down some tools that were helpful in the past, to remind myself. Since Coffee and Creatives is having a Christmas show soon, I thought I’d share it with you today, in case it’s helpful to you as well.

1. Submit the work that you think is the best, not the work that you think others will like the best

I struggle with this. The work I create that I like the best, I’m afraid ‘real’ painters wont like. I often used mixed media or paint in nontraditional ways. I try to convince myself that a strict painting (one without any drawing elements) would be more successful than the mix of drawing and painting that I like the best. The truth of the matter is, the work I create that I like the best has been the most successful. I’m more passionate about it, I’m more excited about it, and it’s easier for me to talk about. I’m guessing that the same is probably true for you too. Submit the work you like the best.

2. Read the rules and make sure you understand them

It can be overwhelming. Once you decide you’re going to enter a show and you’ve finally built up the courage to enter. Then you look at all of the guidelines for entering the show. I often feel a huge weight of discouragement come over me. It’s like carrying a ton of bricks (at least it is for me). I tell myself to break down the requirements into two lists: the ones I know how to do and the ones that I don’t. I start researching the list I don’t know how to do by googling and asking people I trust (this is really important and I’ll talk about more in the next point). For the list I do know how to do, I allow myself to procrastinate a little on (not too though, read more about this point 4).

The things you'll need for Coffee and Creatives' art show are:

  • The artwork

  • The application form, which includes

    • Artist information: your name, website and/or social media handle, artist statement (maximum 250 words), and artist bio (maximum 250 words).

    • Artwork information: name of work, year completed, and the medium/type of art

    • Submission fee information: the email used for the $10 sent to Coffee and Creative's PayPal

Does that seem like a lot? Take a deep breath. It's time to make two lists. It might look something like this

Things I Know How to Do

  1. My name

  2. My social media handle

  3. Artwork name

  4. Year completed

  5. Type of art

Things I Don't Know How to Do

3. Ask people you trust for help.

Applying to art shows or galleries can be a pretty vulnerable process. It feels like, to me, putting a little piece of your heart on a wall for everyone to judge. When I apply, I find myself a little anxious that I’ll mess up the paperwork, or submit the photos incorrectly, or that my work will be judged by my lack of intelligence concerning paperwork rather than its own merit. Asking for someone to look over the paperwork and the specifications helps me feel calmer and more confident. Over the years, I’ve learned to ask the right people for help. I look for someone that has some knowledge of the area but more importantly someone who can speak the truth in love and kindness. Do you feel like there's nobody you can ask? You can always reach out to Coffee and Creatives on Instagram. We're here for you!

4. Give yourself a margin for error

I don’t know how many times I’ve submitted something last minute and made some stupid mistakes which include but are not limited to spelling my last name incorrectly, attaching the wrong image (for an online art show), and forgetting to pay the admittance fee. Perhaps you’re not this way, but I know I’ll panic submit if I wait until11:50 when the deadline is 12.

The due date for the Gift of a Creative Christmas is December 18, 2021. The best thing work towards submitting ahead of the due date, that way you can give yourself some breathing room if something needs some extra time.

5. Present your work well

This seems pretty obvious, but it’s still something I need to remember. Presenting your work well could mean photographing your work well of the show is online; it could mean framing it well it’s an in person show.

I am not particularly gifted in either of these areas… so I pay someone to frame/matt my work for me and I spend time researching how to photograph paintings/drawings better. One I’m spending my money on, and the other I’m spending my time on. One day I hope to be good enough at the photography portion to start learning how to frame my own work as well.

Are you feeling confident? Overwhelmed? Panicked? You got this. You are a creative, and you have beauty and truth the world needs to experience. You can do this.


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