Art Show - Basics for Artists

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Basics for Artists

The information below was initially spelled out on a mailing list for artists. These steps are the basic steps that artists should know or be aware of when sending art work to shows at conventions.

1. Locate a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention that has an Art Show. There is a calendar of many such cons on the yahoo group website. Many artists also have listings on their personal sites of which shows they attend or send art to. As far as I know, there is no convenient, central listing of All Art Shows--though the yahoo group is the closest I've found to such a listing.

2. Locate the rules for the convention art show. These are usually on the convention's website, under "Art Show." Some websites are easier to navigate than others, and if all else fails, you can email the convention and ask for a copy of the rules. Many conventions will even mail a paper copy to you, if you are not comfy with email.

3. Read the rules. Twice. And a third time. Every show is different, and some art show directors are not very forgiving of mistakes (while many others are super nice and easy to work with!)

4. Usually at least two months before the show (see Art Show - Timeline), you must mail a check and an art show reservation form to the convention art show. Not all shows require this, but most do. The rules should tell you, but if they don't, ask the art show director.

5. Now you need to get the art ready for the show. You should already have your art matted nicely, so what's left is the Yucky Paperwork. Read the rules two more times, and then get to work! Most shows work the following way:

You must locate and print out or photocopy a "bid sheet" and a "control sheet." You got those from the art show's website, via email, at the show itself, or in the mail from the art show. Every painting you are displaying to the art show gets one bid sheet, and then all of the paintings are listed on the control sheet. The control sheet is like an inventory of all the art you are sending to the art show. See Art Show - Forms for examples of what may be in use.

6. Cut out and then tape the bid sheet to the painting. Make sure you don't damage the painting or the matting. Every painting gets its' own bid sheet. The bid sheet is like a price tag for the art.

7. If you are mailing art to the show, skip to step 13. If the art show allows you to mail art into the show, the rules will tell you how they want the art to get to them, and what extra steps you must take to get your art to them. Typically, you just need to put the artwork and all the forms into a box, along with an extra check to cover return postage, and you mail the box to the art show about one month before the convention. After the convention, they will mail the unsold artwork back to you. Sometimes, you get the art back in about a week, but more typically, it's a month or so. It is very rare for you to get paid at the same time as the art is returned. (See Art Show - Policies)

8. If the art show is local to you, you will need to find out when the art show setup is. This is usually in the rules, but sometimes you have to contact the art show director to find out. Art show setup is usually the morning of the first day of the convention, though sometimes it's the day before instead. Arrive with your art in hand, on time, in a good mood, full of patience and a love of mankind: the art show setup is often chaotic and the art show director has about a million people all needing her/his help and guidance all at once. I have never had a bad experience setting up art at an art show, so don't be too nervous about it. The people there are usually overworked, but nice, and most are artists themselves (or the spouses and children of artists).

9. Locate your "panel." The panel is usually a sheet of pegboard that is mounted on legs and acts like your very own private wall to display art. Sometimes, there is a map to help you find your panel, sometimes your name is posted on it, and sometimes you just need to (patiently, politely) ask an art show volunteer where your panel is. Unless I am greatly mistaken, it is a Very Big No-No to whine about your panel location or attempt to change locations.

10. Somewhere near the art show registration/ volunteer table, there will be boxes of hooks and clips that you will use to put your art on the panel. Arrange your artwork nicely on the panel, being sure not to cross over into your neighbor's panel.

11. Check in (again) with the art show director or a volunteer. Usually, they will have a checklist to go over with you. After this, you can leave, though personally, I like to help other artists hang art and Talk Art with people.

12. When the show is over (typically, some time in the evening on Sunday), go back to the art show to get your art. Some shows will have your art already removed from the panel and a volunteer with get it for you. Other shows have you remove the art from the panel yourself. Then you check out (another quick check list with a volunteer or the art show director). Once again, be patient and friendly, and be sure to thank everyone before you leave.

13. Very rarely (but we're SO SO SO happy when it happens) you get paid immediately at the end of the art show. Normally, you get a check in the mail a month (or two, or three) after the art show.