I recently entered some of my photographs into an art show, something I’ve been pondering for a while. I have a boatload of photos and it’s been bothering me about what to do with them. Letting them sit on my hard drive meant doing nothing with them, plus, it was annoying me that I’d gone through the process of shooting, post-processing, and in some cases, printing of those photos, and now what? It’s not that I thought the world was lacking something by not experiencing my portfolio – but it sure was starting to bug me that I was the only one looking at them.
An opportunity came along recently when a neighbor wrote to see if I wanted to exhibit in her December art show. She would provide a six foot long table and a chair, the rest was up to me. I realized this was my chance to finally do something with my work so I set about preparing. Here’s what that preparation involved and the learning experience:
Get the prints made – a huge learning experience that deserves it’s own blog entry;
Buy easels to support three or four 16×20 prints;
Buy 8×10 mats to hold 5×7 prints – you may have been to art shows where someone may have several large pieces on display and then a box or two of smaller ones for leafing through? Well, that’s what my 8x10s were for. Preparing them involved taping together a front piece with a 5×7 window and an 8×10 backing board. I also had to buy hinging tape to hold the two pieces of board together and sticky corners to hold the photos in place;
Put these photos and boards together – I had more than 60. I learned to only use the sticky corners on the top two corners of the photo, and tape it to the front board (the one with the hole in it). Use 1 3/4 inch hinging tape, not the skinnier variety, and try to cut that tape to exactly the length needed for the board because cutting off excess linen hinging tape is a bear.
Catalog my images. This took the longest time of course because I’d never organized my collection in any meaningful way before. It involved giving each photo a unique ID number, a filename, a description, and a location on an external hard drive for the original image plus the 5×7 version. The original was required in case someone saw a 5×7 but asked for an 11×14, then I would need the original to make a larger version.
Buy a decent pen so I could write that ID number on the back of every print. Write it on a label, not the print itself.
I had two types of greeting cards made, one foldable which means you could open it and write your inscription inside, and one flat – both came with envelopes. The front of the cards each had a snow scene of mine – it was December after all. Next time I would just get the foldable type.
I put together a montage of DC monument shots into one image to make a Washington, DC postcard arrangement. I sold zero of these so I wouldn’t do that again.
Get a rubber stamp made that gave me credit for the photos. Stamp onto a label, not the print.
What if I actually sold something? How would I handle a credit card? I bought an attachment from Square that plugs into my phone, connected it to webclearly’s bank account and was ready for almost any credit card. In the end, one person wrote a check and the rest paid cash. The Square experience was still worth it though, for my peace of mind and any future art show I might participate in.
If I sold one of those 16x20s how would I wrap it up? I bought a roll of bubble wrap from the drug store, some big bags to hold the big prints, and plastic bags for the 8×10 photos.
I printed notices for how much the various items cost. I bought tiny stands to hold those price announcements.
I bought a couple of clear plastic containers to hold the 60 mats so people could ‘leaf’ through them. Lydia loaned me a tablecloth to cover the table.
It took the best part of a month to put all this together but it was worth it! The whole experience was fun because it interested me – much better to spend your time doing something you’re interested in than a) doing nothing, or b) doing something you don’t care about. I sold seven matted prints and 12 cards. For me, that was well worth it.
I had a good time with my fellow exhibitors one of whom is a webclearly customer, Rose Mosner, plus it was her 92nd birthday! Happy birthday Rose. As someone pointed out to me, you don’t exhibit for money, you do it for the ego boost. I guess they are correct – it was a great ego boost to have people say, “I like this, I like that, etc.,” and I’m now well prepared for another art show. Know of any?