6 Steps to Exhibiting Like a Pro
- Do the Work. It can’t be emphasized too strongly—take the time and make the investment to thoroughly learn and practice your craft. Visit shows online and in person to see what’s current, but find what you have to say that is unique and exciting. Build a body of work that you can be proud of.
- Do Your Research. Before submitting to an exhibition, learn more about the opportunity. Read the prospectus in detail. Go to the associated website, and see if there are examples of previous exhibitions that can give you a feel for it. Visit the venue if possible, or look to friends and social media for input on other’s experiences.
- Have a Safety and a Stretch. Just like applying to colleges, it’s good to have some shows on your radar where you feel you have a reasonable chance of getting accepted. It’s also good to reach for the stars sometimes, and try for opportunities that would take things up a level. It may take a few, or many, attempts, in order to succeed, but if you get into every show you apply to, you are playing it too safe. And having lofty goals pushes you to do your very best work.
- Get Good Images. Take clear, high resolution photos of your work, with adequate lighting and without distracting backgrounds. Teach yourself to do this with the help of web tutorials, or hire a professional. If jurors can’t see your work properly, it’s difficult to form a favorable opinion of it.
- Follow the Instructions. Your professionalism hinges on following the instructions in the application to the letter. Size the images to the specifications. Provide all the information required about process and materials. If the application asks for a statement, make it succinct and to the point. Tell the jurors something of your story and motivation that will help them understand what they are looking at without resorting to platitudes. Read it out loud to a friend to see if it flows, and check and double check for typos and grammatical errors. Keep it within the word limit.
If you have questions about the application, contact the venue well in advance for clarification. And if at all possible, don’t wait till the last minute to apply, when a computer glitch or slow connection could hamper your chances.
- Learn to Handle Acceptance and Rejection with Equanimity. Did you get accepted? Hurray! Celebrate, then follow through by providing any additional materials requested, adding dates to your calendar, and scheduling all the prep needed so you can show like a pro. Rejected? It happens to the best of us. After the sting wears off a bit, do a postmortem. Sometimes a cold clear look at your work shows the need for improvement. Sometimes your work was not the right fit for a particular venue. And sometimes it’s just a numbers game/luck of the draw, where the jurors had a lot of excellent work to choose from, and had to make some hard choices. Please be assured that jurors take their responsibilities very seriously, it’s never personal, and stay classy when talking about your experience. Learn from it, then let it go, and try, try again.
Sue Reno //www.suereno.com