Some walls are for selling art and some walls are for showing art but both can be used to strengthen your art career.
Recent years have been rough on art galleries all over the world and many of them have not survived. This means the competition to get your work in a gallery has gotten that much stronger. Because of that many artists, both emerging and established, are turning to alternative spaces such as restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops.
But displaying work in these spaces can also be discouraging because sales are few and far between in such environments. Which makes sense because people are in those places for other reasons and the art on the walls is not the focus of the experience as it is in a gallery. There is a paradox though in the fact that those places often get more traffic than even the most popular gallery so more people see your work.
It is up to the artist to take advantage of that high visibility by not focusing on sales but focusing on audience building.
How? By bringing the same amount of creativity to your marketing and promotion that you bring to your work.
Use the opportunity to bring your offline audience into your online community because this is how you can continue the conversation with them. And it is best to focus on one aspect of your online community and to make it as easy as possible for the passerby to join.
Facebook is an obvious choice because so many people (over a billion) use Facebook these days and connecting with others via FB has become second nature. So instead of putting your website’s address on your tags consider putting your Facebook page‘s address instead. This works because a Facebook “like” on your page is more of a chance to connect with someone than a visit to your website.
Another obvious choice is encouraging people to get on your email newsletter list. If you actively us it of course. Most email service providers give you a web address that goes directly to a sign up form. This is mine from Mailchimp: http://eepurl.com/eWfV
Also think about offering tangible “take-a-ways” if the space allows it. Instead of a simple tag next to your work experiment with placing light weight card holders next to you work full of your artist calling cards that folks can quickly grab and look you up on the web when it is more convenient. (I’ve seen this done successfully with re-purposed gum packaging as the card holder.)
Consider making your cards little pieces of art. Or make theme useful in form of a bookmark. But keep whatever you do consistent with you and your art.
The Bottom Line…
The most important thing to remember is that anytime you have the opportunity to display your work in public you should take it because there is always potential for it to move your art career forward.
But it is up to you to get creative and take full advantage of that potential whether it be in a gallery in Manhattan or a coffee shop in North Dakota.
Time To Share…
What have you learned from non gallery shows? Let us know in the comments.