Showing your work in an art show

Today’s post is a guest post by Mark Pouley of

Creating the image is the journey, sharing the image is the destination. A short time ago I decided that in addition to sharing my photos on line I wanted to exhibit printed images. I joined a community art guild to meet other artists and expand my exhibition opportunities. The guild sponsors several shows including the annual “Art at the Schoolhouse” show and sale. This is my first show of this type and it was a challenging learning experience. Up to this point I had only displayed two or three framed pieces at any one time. For this show, I needed to create enough work to fill forty-eight square feet of display space, and enough small work to stock a retail area.
Step one in the process was calculating how many images and what sizes I could display in the space. I went low-tech to answer this question; drawing the display space on graph paper and cutting squares of paper to correspond to the various image sizes I wanted to include. Ultimately I decided on a variety of framed images ranging from 16 x 20 to 8 X10. This just fills the display area while still letting each image shine. The next major task was deciding which images to print. I’m happy this turned out to be a difficult task since I have many images I want to display. I selected images that were not only my favorites, but that I also thought would sell at this type of an art show. In particular, knowing the audience that visits the gallery, I emphasized images from previous years’ tulip crops and other rural scenes.

In addition to selling framed images I needed to offer smaller and less expensive items. That meant printing and mounting images in a variety of forms. I made additional prints of the framed photos, but offered them unframed for a lower cost; plus I included images that weren’t selected to frame. An Internet search for supplies to display the unframed photos landed me at Golden State Art offers a variety of framing and mounting supplies, but I was interested in the kits that included pre-cut mats, backing boards and clear envelopes. You can’t beat the convenience of the complete kits and the low cost let me offer the images at a reasonable price and still make a small profit. I offered photo cards for easy and inexpensive purchase. For this I turned to Amazon and found the perfect supplies in Starthmore Photo Mount Greeting Cards. These mounts turn standard 4×6 prints into really attractive greeting cards. I was even able to run the cards through my ink jet printer to add my name and contact information on the back of each card. I purchased clear sleeves for the cards at

The final task was creating a way to display the unframed work and to market myself to visitors. While I want to convey a professional appearance and use something sturdy and functional, I wanted to avoid another big financial commitment. Luckily, I found a couple wire baskets perfect for the task at a local thrift store. On another trip to Amazon I found a clear acrylic frame to display my bio and contact information as well as hold business cards for customers to take home. The details fell in place, as I created price tags and contact information labels to attach to all my work.

It was a bit of labor, but I produced a good variety and quantity of high-quality images, framed, matted and mounted on cards, to display and offer for sale. I’m proud of the display and it showcased my art well. The show gets a fair amount of traffic, but attendance is very weather dependent. Jewelry and garden art sculptors sell more then 2D artists, painters and photographers, but many people saw my work and I sold enough to make the investment worth while. Most important to my goals, I pushed myself and my art a step further in the direction I want to go.

Here are my two display areas with framed photos and smaller matted images and cards. The grid walls were supplied by the guild.

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