Arty 18:

How to get your work seen is a perennial problem. You’ve left college... what next? Well don’t just sit in your studio feeling sorry for yourself, be pro active and if all else fails do it yourself.

Once you’ve made your work (Gary O’Connor, Delaine Le Bas) things are only just beginning.

Firstly you must photograph (slides and digital) your work and then you can start to get it seen.

There are various different types of galleries to try and get your work into these include:
Artist Run Spaces
Commercial Galleries
Publicly Funded Spaces
It isn’t always easy to figure out which is which but you should visit lots of them.

Always put your name in the gallery visitors book and you will be invited to private views.

Never just send your slides to a gallery it is a waste of time. They inevitably go in the bin.

Better is to actually visit the galleries, find out what kind of work they put on and then find the ones that your work really is appropriate for. Then if you can (without making a nuisance of yourself) try and chat to the director or gallery assistant and then drop off some slides, adding an invite to an open studio or another show you are in is always a good idea. It is also useful to email an image or two to your targeted gallery but make sure that it isn’t too large as this can mean it doesn’t get opened and it can make the gallery director very angry.

It is a good idea to put together a proposal for a group show as galleries very seldom put on solo shows by unknown artists. Think about the presentation and make the proposal look really good. If you can include an artist that the gallery might of heard of, it will definitely improve your chances.

Some galleries effectively hire out their space and then a group of you can pool your resources and go for it. Often though these are less prestigious places to show as other artists know that anyone can show there if they pay!

So best of all is to go it alone and put on your own show. Find a space (Olly Beck, Agnese Bicocchi), it doesn’t have to be huge, it can be your own front room, a disused shop or the room above a pub. Maybe even open your own gallery.

Then put together a press release (Alex Michon), make a flyer (Sarah Doyle, Cathy Lomax) and do some pr. Don’t be snooty get press wherever you can, local papers are always a good place to target. Think about your show and its theme and think who might be interested in it , then sell it to them. You can even try and get sponsorship or funding and produce your own publication (Yolanda Zappaterra).

So the work is hung (Catfunt) and it is the opening night of your show or the private view (Billy Rocker, Alex Michon, Michael Parlamas) as galleries like to call it. This will inevitably be stressful but if you have prepared well it will be OK. Buy the cheapest drink that you can find and if money it tight set up a bar and sell it (strictly speaking this is illegal and you have to call it a donation). Don’t get too drunk yourself as you need to be able to talk about the show and its themes to all your guests.

The next day you will need to be at the space on time to tidy up and open up to the public. It can then be very disheartening as you spend hour after hour invigilating (Sharon Gal, Rosemary Shirley, Catherine Bate) in an empty (often freezing) space hoping that someone (and preferably Charles Saatchi) will come knocking but don’t give up... Carry on with the pr; take photographs send them (on a cd) to all the art magazines, email images to galleries and magazines and... Plan your next show.

This Arty is all about the issues and mechanics involved in putting on a show and includes an interview with the artist Emma Talbot. The middle pull-out section of the mag is the first issue of Arty’s sister publication -
The Critical Friend

Arty 18 is now SOLD OUT