So you’re ready to show your work to the world—how exciting! Putting on an exhibition of your own can be a daunting task, and it can be hard to know where to start. Many of the details may vary depending on your particular situation; where the show is being held or whether you or somebody from the venue is responsible for installing the work to name a couple. This article won’t be an exact how-to guide for everyone. We will however cover most of the important things to think through when you’re putting on a show of your work.
Finding a venue for your show might be the hardest part of the whole process. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have had someone ask to show your work in his or her gallery or business. For everyone else, it can be a matter of networking and timing, and you’ll have to do the hard work of reaching out to people and asking if they’ll let you hang a show in their space. Research local coffee shops, restaurants, bars, libraries, and community centers that display art, and inquire about their process for choosing work to display. Each situation will be different, and sometimes you’ll have to pay for use of the space. For example, I displayed my work in the back room of a bar for a one-night event in conjunction with a concert and we paid a fee for renting the room. Be upfront with business owners about what you need. Be sure to talk it through with the venue if you plan on selling the work and figure out whether they will get a cut of the sales.
Once someone has agreed to let you put on your show on their walls, think about whether the logistical aspects of the space will suit your needs.
Working with the logistics of somebody else’s space can be tricky, especially when it isn’t designed for the purpose of displaying art. You’ll need to decide what factors will be deal-breakers, and what you need to let go, even if it’s not ideal, and work the best you can with what’s available.
If you don’t already have your photos printed, mounted, and/or framed, consider the suggestions below as well as the amount of wall space and wall surfaces you are working with as you decide how big you want to print your photos and how you want to hang them. Once you’ve decided, contact local art printing shops for rates.
While displaying your photos in frames will yield some of the most polished results, having each of your photos framed can quickly become expensive, especially if your prints are large. At a certain size, you may also need to get your photos mounted, which will add to the cost. Hanging framed photos will likely require hardware such as screws or nails, which may or may not be an option for you depending on the venue.Mounting on Foam-Core
Instructions for mounting your photos to foam-core:
Before you start hanging, you should also spend some time thinking about how you want your photos to be arranged. Think about sequencing (how to order your photos so they tell a story), and make thoughtful use of negative space.
These tips should help you navigate the process of putting together an exhibition of your work. Congratulations and good luck!
About the Author: Angelina Lin received her formal photography training at Williams College, an alma mater that recently awarded her a $25,000 grant for her photography career. Her training focused on black and white film photography (35 mm and large format), digital photography, and the human image. She is currently working for Aperture Foundation, one of the foremost publishers of photography, where she recently contributed to the selection of this year's Portfolio Prize winner.