Sunday, August 8, 2010
Putting on the Show: Paintings from Life
WOW! It's almost time to get the big show delivered. It made me want to share a little of the process of gathering an inventory of nearly 60 works for display with you. In case I haven't already bugged you about it (via email or snail mail or both), it is an exhibit that will open on August 22nd at the Marnie Sheridan Gallery at Harpeth Hall. I hope you will come if you can.
Needless to say, when the gallery director called and asked me to do the exhibit, I felt so incredibly lucky to have been asked. They only have 4 exhibits a year, and many times they include more than one artist. To have been given this opportunity to have a solo exhibition is very exciting. I have been familiar with the space for years, and have attended many shows there. There are really large walls, giving an artist a great opportunity to paint any size work!
Many of you probably participate in group exhibits (in our area they are lovingly labeled "School Shows") where you gather your 40-60 pieces together and take them to a venue for a weekend sale/fundraiser type of thing. If so, you already know how much work it can be just to get that much inventory together. (I did a few of those show myself a few years ago. I have great friends who are great artists who do them regularly and enjoy doing so.) The main difference in inventory preparation for this space is, indeed, just that... the space! It's really large, and I have had taken great pleasure in being able to paint any size I really felt appropriate for a particular piece. Therefore, the works available range in size from 3 inches to 4 feet.
So "big deal," you say. "You stretched the canvases, painted them, varnished them, and framed them. Lots of people do that all the time. What else did you do in your spare time?" you ask. Well, since I am a self-proclaimed overly organized artist with a bent toward marketing, I organize myself until I'm crazy. Each piece is photographed, and entered into my computer database. The database contains everything there is to know about the painting, including title; size; date; inventory number; when it was varnished; where it is to show (or has already shown); frame cost; shipping costs (when going out of town); subject; where it was painted; an image of the work; any additional notes on the piece; PLUS, once sold, to whom; when; where; for how much; through which source; and what my final net is on the sale. Additionally, this inventory database is connected to my list of contacts database and my list of venues database so that when one change gets made, they all work together for those who love to organize. Out of this miraculous database, I can select works, select a format for printing, and print title cards, labels, CD-trays, inventory sheets, and a half-dozen other things with what ever information I want printed. So, of course, I do all of this and prepare whatever is necessary for the exhibit. In this case, I am doing my own title cards. Having my database up to date makes that easy.
After I have everything on the computer, I need to also update my website with the new works. Since the photos are already made, I upload the image and add the information on size, etc. there too. Sometimes I also share some of the images on facebook or other online galleries with which I am listed.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I choose an image for the postcard (and for this show I design it), update my contacts email and snail mailing lists, and prepare a fresh bio for printing. Next it is time to list the exhibit on my website and in my newsletter and prepare an e-blast on iContact to remind every one about it. Oh, but I forgot to mention that American Art Collector magazine had been asking for the past year when I would be having a solo exhibition because they would like to do an article about it. So I contact them and they send a list of interview questions and want 8 high resolutions images sent via ftp so I do that too.
(I will not go astray here and tell you all of the other events that have taken me away from the studio during this time... you've heard about most of them already and realize how little actual time in the studio I have had).
Now I'm sure I've left out something here, (rest assured there is a list and I will check it WAY more than twice), but the point is that being in this business means you do a whole of of stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with painting. I'm really sorry to have to break that news to you. It is necessary stuff, however, and in the long run pays off big and makes things easier to keep track of. So if you have not yet set up a database or do not have a way to inventory your work, I am including a link to a free site at artist-inventory.com that will help you do it. If you do not have a website (one that is easy to maintain with the click of a mouse), send Mark an email and get one started.
Last but not least, I need to remember to invite my blog followers to come to the exhibit, subscribe to my newsletter and e-blast list, and send me your thoughts on processes you find helpful in your art business.
Appropriate books for this post: