Artist responsibility when they are in a show

Waiting acrylic painting on board 5x5

What is an artist’s responsibility when in an exhibition – group or solo – do you know what yours are?

Do you send out the info for the show, up to and including opening night and then let it go, waiting for (and/or expecting) others to advertise it further?

The opening night is only a small part of an art exhibition – the opening is where the works are introduced to the audience – but the remainder of a show is where artists remind the audience that their works are there – there has to be a wooing relationship between artist and potential buyer. Did you get a favourable response, and did someone like your work? Did you get an unfavourable response, and someone didn’t? Do the follow-up!

What is the follow-up?

Maintaining a “relationship” with that someone in a general way (we aren’t talking about stalking)  just means that you remind people (in general) that the show is on, and that your work is in it. Re-tell your artist statement – expound on it a little more – talk about why you did the work, why you entered the show, what pushed you, give some insight, offer that little something that someone wouldn’t know if they looked at the work. For someone who didn’t like your work, address their thoughts, substantiate why you expressed as you did, what you saw. Why did you choose the colours you did, why did you choose the subject. What are your thoughts about the show,  if you could do it over, would you enter something different, what did you learn? People like to see people grow and expand. Are you shy? Well, good, because I am too! (I was asked the other day, did you know xx and xx live on your street? Why the hell would I, I don’t go out, and barely talk to the neighbours on each side of me!)

Send out information once a week – be excited! Those who are your true friends and supporters will know you are excited and be excited too! (The others, well, don’t worry about them, you could put yourself in therapy if you did.) Once a week is not too much to let people know about a show that is on for a month.

Do you know how to use Facebook and/or Twitter? what a good time to learn, you only benefit yourself! These are tools that you can use to let people know your artwork exists. The world is not going to come knocking at your door, or as my dad used to say, “you owe the world, the world doesn’t owe you!” Strong words, important words, pertinent words, especially in this day and age! If you are a professional artist, you have a responsibility to your own self to honour your works. I can sometimes tell how professional an artist is in the way that they advertise the shows they are in, whether it is their own work or someone else’s….most especially someone else’s.

When an artist is in a group show, I would expect this sort of support for your own artwork specifically, and the show in general. You entered, you were accepted, now go and encourage people to come and see it! If nothing else, do the math –

30 people in a month long exhibition, sent out once is 30 times in that month. 30 people in a month long exhibition sent out four times is 120 times in that month. Chances are that out of those 120 times, others will pick up and share the info, which has greatly increased the publicity of that exhibition and YOUR work. Remember that excitement is catchy. You be enthused and excited about your work, and others will too – it is unavoidable!

Other thoughts are always welcome.

2 Replies to “Artist responsibility when they are in a show”

  1. The point Julia makes throughout this article is a very valid one. She encourages artists to stop putting their marketing in the hands of others. Artists stop playing the victim! If you are discontent about the amount of exposure your art is generating, don’t leave it up to others to take care of such a vital component to your art career. You have the power to take control & do your own marketing.

    In my experience, too much onus is put on the event organizer. Group art shows should be looked at like any team sports where each individual does their part. No hockey team can ever win by individual effort. The coach can’t win the game on his own. You may have fantastic individual players but if they don’t have the effort of their other teammates, they are way less successful… to read more from my blog post visit

    1. Rebekah, you have it completely.

      Artists are so easily convinced that their success is in the hands of another. I disagree with this. More artists need to take control of their careers – makes me ask myself if they really do believe in themselves, or their work. Or are they just playing around?

      How seriously are they taking THEMSELVES? Are they working to find their niche? Are they working at finding their voice? Are they working at finding themselves? Are they working at pushing past their boundaries?

      Group shows exist, by their very nature, because of a group of artists. Wouldn’t it make sense that these types of shows are more successful by the very involvement of these artists? I believe that those who do minimal effort, ie they submit and then sit back are likely going to be minimally successful.

      Are you in a group show? Ask how you can help – your involvement does not stop with the submission of the artwork – even making labels, or registering the artwork, or helping take down – the two hours or so of manning the show – compared to the twenty (or in some cases many MORE!) hours that the organizer puts in – it’s really quite small, don’t you think? Show a bit of effort, show a bit of interest … is that really a lot to ask?

      For those who sit back and let others do all the work, yet reap the benefits of the show, I add this attribute of their personality to their work, and yes, it makes me respect their work less..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *