Table of Contents » Chapter 9 : Exhibitions & Selling » Chapter 9 : To Do List & Timeline

Chapter 9 : To Do List & Timeline

(What an Artist should wear to work…Esquire, May 2017)

Things to consider for your exhibition:

1. Mutual Commitment:
When you are having an exhibtion in a formal or informal gallery, it is a good idea to have some kind of contract from the gallery- this is to protect both parties involved. Discuss this with your gallery to make sure you are clear about all of the terms about shipping / return shipping, exhibition cost, post cards, insurance, publicity, installation / de-installation, opening food, paint, tools, sales tax, payment and any special needs. Do you need to write a press release?

2. Are there physical restrictions?
Can you drill into the walls? the floor? Can you paint the walls? How big are the door and elevators? What are the walls made of and do they have weight limits? Wood or metal studs? Sheet rock, fabric or brick walls? Are there sound or light issues? What kind of power does the gallery have? What kind of lighting does the gallery have? Are there public access issues to consider?

3. Setting up an exhibition:
Do you need help unpacking & setting up your show? Does the gallery provide assistance to help you? What are the set up hours of the gallery? What equipment will the gallery provide (drill, screws, level, ladder, measuring tape). Will the gallery make and hang the title for your show? Is there a loading dock – where do you park when you unload? Can the gallery have storage for your empty boxes?

4. During the opening:
Be professional in dress and communication. Do you want to wear a name tag? Be on time and stay until the opening is over. Speak with people you don’t know at your opening…..“Hi there, thank you for coming tonight. Do you have any questions about the work?” (this is very important, it is the responsibility of you and the gallery owner to interact with the public). Often the public is interested in the work but is not sure what to ask, help them out a little by explaining your ideas or techniques – don’t wait for people to come up to you, this is your chance to educate the public about what you do.

4. During the exhibition:
Does your work need daily attention or weekly maintenance? Do you need to show the gallery attendant what to do? How will the gallery staff mark work is that is sold? Does the gallery need your resume, price list, biography for the public to take with them? If you want people to touch or interact with your work, “plant” friends or gallery folks around the exhibition to get this started.

5. End of the exhibition:
Leave the gallery better than how you found it: patch, sand the screw holes, check with the gallery if they want spot painting, of if they want you to paint the entire wall. Clean up all peanuts and bubble wrap. Thanks the gallery, leave a note of email later.


For any one not in the practice of delivering work to a gallery that is too hot to touch on the day of the opening…the following information might be interesting and perhaps, even useful.
Three months before exhibition

  • Update mailing list (hard copy, snail mail, email, Facebook and so on)
  • Get map of exhibition space
  • Draw a scale placement of existing works
  • Plan new pieces that need to be made for exhibit
  • Photograph a piece for the announcement
  • Publicity to art magazines
  • Write and send press release
  • Make copies of announcement image to send with press release

Six weeks before

  • Design announcement
  • Get price comparison on printers
  • Have announcement printed
  • Arrange to have friends be gallery attendants, bartenders, etc as needed.

Four weeks before

  • Distribute publicity
  • Mail press releases to the print media and radio stations
  • Mail announcements if using bulk mail

Three weeks before

Prepare art work to be installed

Two weeks to ten days before

  • Send press release to broadcast media
  • Send follow-up announcement to print media
  • Make phone calls to art writers
  • Mail announcements if using first class mail

One week before

  • Prepare supplementary material
  • Update resume
  • Write artist statement for the exhibition
  • Photocopy past reviews (if applicable)
  • Prepare exhibition list, with titles, dates, media and prices
  • Prepare signage for show
  • Email announcement to mailing list

Two to four days before opening

  • Paint and patch gallery walls
  • Get hardware for installation
  • Install work
  • Set lights
  • Prepare labels for artwork
  • Get guest book for names/addresses
  • Get reception supplies
  • Again, email announcement to mailing list

Opening day

  • Relax and have fun

From: Lazzari, Margaret R. The Practical Handbook for the Emerging Artist. Second Edition. United States: Thomson Learning, 2002