LLOYD COENEN art

Blog

BLOG

Launching your own solo exhibition & selling everything you showcase.

Picture this.

All your work hanging beautifully in the most incredible
venue in your local city.

People flocking from all over the country, even world, just
to see it and buy it. The. Mother. Fucking. Dream… Right?

I remember watching an American TV show called How to make
it in America a few years ago. You might not have seen it, but it’s based in New York and there was a scene where the main characters went to a Artist’s exhibition launch party in down town Manhattan. I
mean, all American parties on tv always look insane. But I saw this one
scene and thought I wanted to be there. A few years later, i hosted my own exhibition and launch party, just like i saw on TV.

You can check it out HERE

Want to do this yourself? Keep reading…

FINDING A VENUE

Apart from having your art ready to showcase in an exhibition,
finding a venue is the most important element. 

I recommend finding somewhere other
than a gallery. Galleries have internal politics, budgets, time scales and a
shed load of other crap to wade through. Plus most of them probably won’t let
you have a boozy and loud party to launch it!

Try find a venue that your target audience would like to hang
out. (if you’re unsure how to work out who your target audience is for your art, i’ll be writing another post soon on this) For example, my work is similar to a lot of stuff that is used in the booming craft beer industry, so I chose a craft beer bar to host my exhibition and launch party. Walk around your local city or town and make a list of potential venues. Pop in and have a chat and see if it’s something they’d be interested in. The good thing is, any event that involves getting people through their doors is likely to be seen as a win win situation. If not, maybe offer them an incentive, give them a
piece of your work for free or something. Just try keep the cost of the space to a minimum,
or try get it for free. We’re just starting out remember! 

CREATING A HYPE (DOING MARKETING)

You can’t just expect people to show up to your exhibition
or launch party. They need to commit to it way in advance.

Start the hype process least 3 weeks before your launch date. Get social, tell everyone you know and post it on your
social media daily!  Seriously, this is your chance to get in front of everyone and have the
best first exhibition ever! Don’t worry about annoying people, the ones that
get annoyed are the ones you don’t want there anyway. Fuck them!

In short, be bold and proud about what you’re trying to do.

Some other hype generating things you can do…

1. Get some flyers and posters made up.

2. Walk around your local university campus handing out the flyers.

3. Ask other local venues to put your flyers/posters up in their
toilets.

4. Do a live art session in the town or city you’re holding the
exhibition

5. Contact the local newspaper and ask for a feature.

6. Add your launch event to all local events listings.

7. Ask everyone you know and meet to share the event on their social media

8. Post your event in your local artistic groups on facebook.

9. Contact your local art supply stores and ask if they can post on their
website and social media. (you might also be able to get some sponsorship from
them, just be sure to put their logo on your flyers if they do)

Just be bold and proud about what you’re trying to do and don’t be scared to shout LOUD about it.

HAVE A GENUINE MEANING OR REASON OTHER THAN YOURSELF

Make the meaning of the exhibition something other than yourself. It can be quite difficult to do this sometimes. If you’re struggling, a simple way is to support a local charity or business and give a proportion of what you make to them. Just be a humble and good person. Give
back where you can and let your audience know you appreciate their support.

OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Try make your event as special and unique as possible. Think of what you can do to set yourself apart from anyone else wanting to do the same. Create a lasting first impression from the word GO. This means going over an above what you’d expect from an exhibition. Too many artists just expect their work to sell itself. But when you’re just starting out, that’s not how it works unfortunately. Give everyone the best experience ever, even if they’re not going to buy your work.

Hiring a DJ, catering, handing out free badges or stickers are some ways to up the intrinsic value of the event. Use your imagination and look at where you can improve your audiences experience.

Perhaps think about doing a talk about your work and tell some stories about how you’ve got to where you are, as well as your plans for the future. Stories are the best way to get through to an audience, use them at any opportunity you can. 

You could also hold a raffle or competition to win a piece of your work, this gets your audience engaged in the event.

Create prints, t-shirts and other merchandise to sell on the night. Some people might come to the exhibition with a limited budget. But i can guarantee that if people have made the effort to come out, they want to leave with something as a token of the event. A £20 t-shirt is affordable for most people and it’s free advertising too.



I can’t express the importance of making your exhibition something more than just an exhibition. Go over and beyond what’s expected and i can guarantee you it’ll be be successful and continue to benefit you for years after it’s taken down. You’re creative and great enough to make the work you make, use that to create the best exhibition ever.

Lloyd Coenen