From January 15-February 11th of this year, I participated in my very first exhibition. The exhibition was organized by a friend and fellow conceptual photographer, and she had reached out to a number of artists that she knew to see what kind of interest there would be, and had rented gallery space in an art museum in Orlando, FL. While I did not get to attend the artist reception, nor see my work hanging in person, there were a few things that I learned and some great tips that Id love to pass along to others who want to send work to galleries.
The shipping of my prints was a challenge. I swapped the glass in my frames with plexiglass because it would reduce weight and, if it broke, it wouldn’t shatter in the box and cut my prints. I had help from someone who sends fragile computer parts for a living (so he knows his stuff!) and we spent 4 hours wrapping my frames in different types of bubble wrap and shipped them in a box that we cut to size, and stuffed with cushioning. Upon arrival in Orlando, by some mysterious force, a corner on each frame had been completely busted and the plexiglass broken. My saving grace was my friend Samantha, who organized the exhibition. She bought new frames for my work and reframed them for me in time for the exhibit. If the exhibition would not have been organized by her, they would have had to ship my broken art back to me and I would have had to decide whether to re-send fixed frames and whether they'd arrive in time.
Photo by Samantha Goss
With this exhibit, I was allowed to send 2 framed pieces and some unframed prints that would be placed next to other loose prints that artists were selling. I sent probably 20 smaller prints placed in archival photo sleeves with backing board in addition to my two 18x18 framed works. I had unfortunately forgotten to send business cards in my boxes, so make a mental note not to make the same mistake that I had!
Sending work to a gallery is expensive, and there is no guarantee that anything will sell. However, what it did do was open more opportunities to send to other galleries, and it gave to me the opportunity to meet more artists with which I could build a friendship. A curator happened to pass through our exhibit and loved it enough to invite all of us to send a piece to another exhibition in Paris, France! So, while you may not see a financial return on investment, you may be surprised at what other opportunities arise.
When it came time for my work to be sent back to me, I had my friend remove the glass from the frames (the new frames that she had to buy had real glass instead of plexiglass) and ship my work back to me in frames without glass. She took care to protect my prints inside, and sent it all back in the same box, and with the same bubble wrap. This time, it arrived safe and sound.
A huge thank you to Samantha Goss of Sleeping Awake Photography for her incredibly hard work and personal attention that she gave to the artists in Beneath the Surface, and for organizing the exhibition. All photos in this post are courtesy of her.