Ready to show? Tips to Put on a Successful Art Gallery Show

Last month a group of us artists put on our second gallery art show. It’s been an evolving process, a journey of discovery and collaboration. It’s been awesome, rewarding and a learning experience.

I’ve put together a few tips that I’ve learned along the way on promoting group art shows that present fine art in a public art gallery.

First, who is showing and how do you decide?
In the beginning stages of deciding to have an art show it usually starts with a group of artists that you meet or know and have expressed an interest. The artists typically have been working on art projects for some time and are skilled in their medium.

Second, a commitment from the artists to participate in an art show and a willingness to collaborate with other artists.

Third, a commitment to the group, the time and expense that it takes to put on a professional art show.

While this is general, I’ve broken this down into smaller steps.

You have an interested group of visual artists that are confident and ready to show their work in a gallery setting to the public. The artist has a collection of work that will be framed, presented and if desired sold (though many of us did not want to sell our work). This is a big first step.

gallerySet a date to discuss the details. Ongoing meetings revolving the show and details will help keep everyone motivated and moving forward.
Planning is important – plan in advance, it’s best to have at least 3 months to plan for the show.

Based on the participants, assign each show participant with a task towards the show. Putting on a professional art show takes time, details and expense. To start we had a entry fee that would cover the cost of putting on the show. We had 2 fee structures; one for those that just wanted to show and another lesser cost for those that wanted to show and would take on one of the tasks towards the cost of the show.

Tasks include:

  • Food Planning
  • Decorating
  • Working with vendors
  • General planning
  • Planning the space and all that goes along with it
  • Marketing: Website, social media, printing of announcements
  • And much more

Estimating costs. The costs of show will involve the rental of the gallery space, marketing and printing costs, food at the show, insurance (we needed insurance for the day), tables, tablecloth’s, decorations such as flowers, serving platters, etc…. don’t forget to plan for the smaller things like how hardware to hang the work, lighting, signage at the show and outside of the show.

Promotion – web, social media. For our group we have a website, social media presence and printed postcards for the event.


Theme – We had a group theme. For this show it was “Generations.” Each artist did a piece of work relating to the theme and their interpretations. From the artwork, we printed greeting card packets that we sold at the show. We had 10 different cards that were printed, packaged and sold. The sales of the cards went to our group charity that we selected in advance.

One of our goals was to have an art show that would also raise awareness not only for us as artists, but also a charity that we wanted to support.

Our goal – artists empowering each other and the community.

The space – finding the right gallery space isn’t easy. We wanted a professional gallery space that would rent for 2 days. The day before the show we really needed the time to set up the art displays and get everything in order. For securing the right gallery space and getting it on the calendar plan for at least a couple month or more depending on the popularity of the location. Once you have your preferred space you will have to go through an application process.

The display – we’re artists. Expect that all the displays will be professional, creative and perfect… of course!



Food – Hors d’oeuvres. For any gallery showing you need hors d’oeuvres to go with it. Plan for foods that aren’t messy and easy to serve.

Style: dress and name tags – in our show we had a ‘dress’ policy. Why not?! Wear black and white, have a name tag so that visitors can identify the artists (we all had small name tag canvases that we customized). Be distinguishable as the artists at the event.

Promote! Our promotions were set up through our website, social media, postcards, email marketing and direct invite.

Taking it to the next level – Beyond an art show
We decide to make our art show a fundraiser. We selected a charity to raise awareness for and to raise funds for. As a group we created art card packets that were sold at the show. All proceeds went to our charity.

We also had a raffle and had a variety of sponsors who donated towards the raffle. For their donation, they were listed on all of our signage and marketing. Raffle tickets were sold at the art show and all proceeds went to charity.



After the show
At the shows, we have a sign in sheet for our visitors. Using this sheet we invite the same people back via email marketing.

For our sponsors we make sure to recognize them with handwritten thank-you notes.

During the show, we have many artists who are interested in showing with us next year, we be sure to add them to the list to notify them on the upcoming show and the first meeting.

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