You exhibited your artwork: Now what?

With the Grenada Arts Council Exhibit assisted by students from St. George’s University on April 1st, many local artists showed for the first time alongside seasoned artists. Exhibiting your work can be intimidating and after getting through your first or fiftieth exhibit, you may be asking yourself, “What do I do now?”. While I have shown my work internationally, I have also been involved in 42 exhibits in Grenada, not counting community events or art markets. Here are some of my insights:

Remember that every exhibit is an opportunity

You might be disappointed if you didn’t get sales or if you didn’t get the feedback you wanted but remember that every time you show your work you are growing.

  • There may be people that add your work to their visual palette and remember you for the future.
  • By showing consistently you are letting your audience know that you are serious and committed to being an artist.
  • You may realize things you particularly like or don’t like when you see your work up with others which can fuel your ideas and motivation for future work.

Update your CV

Every artist who is serious about being taken seriously in the art world needs to have a bio, an artist statement, and a CV (curriculum vitae) which is a record of your exhibition history. You can see mine as an example here. Your CV at times can be more valuable than which pieces you showed at which exhibit. It shows consistency and range. While your bio and statement remain more or less the same over years, you need to constantly update the living document which is your CV. If you showed at the Arts Council Pop-up exhibit, this is how you would enter it into your CV:

2017, Grenada Arts Council Annual Pop-up Exhibit, Spiceland Mall, Morne Rouge, Grenada.

This entry shows when and where it happened. Luckily for us as artists there is no valuation of each show in your CV whether it was a “success” or not. You simply have to show that you were there with your work. On my CV, I have shown at the annual every year since 1994 and so I just summarized it in an entry:

1994 – 2017, Grenada Arts Council Annual Exhibit, St. George’s, Grenada.

I did this so someone doesn’t get the impression that I am trying to inflate the length of my CV with these annual exhibits but also to show that I’ve been working and showing art in this specific place for 23 years.

Share your photos/experience!

Share images you took of yourself with your work, share conversations you had with other artists, share images of things that happened at the exhibit. You want to 1.) Make people wish they had come to see you in person and 2.) Further document your own experience to build off of. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that art can be fun and enjoyable when we’re bogged down during a creative block or when problem solving. This also gives the opportunity for someone who appreciates your work to connect with you on a personal level which Amanda Palmer talks about as being crucial in developing your audience.

Start making work again!

There is something that happens after concentrated stimulating times and it happens with art and exhibits too. I call it the art hangover. We go through a trough or low after having highly stimulating experiences and sometimes we have to discipline ourselves to get back to work. We potentially have a greater capacity for working again after having input from people viewing your work, from conversations with other artists or the ephemeral ways ideas can come to you if you put yourself in the right situation and state of mind. Whether this is encouraging or daunting, you should try to have a few exhibits to put on your CV every year and by always working, you are always ready to respond to calls and show your work.

We are all better when we bring each other up and it is valuable to work in community. We look forward to seeing all of our local and locally residing artists develop and grow!

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