Professional Artist: Getting a Group Show

July 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

I dear friend of mine who is new to exhibiting asked for my advice.

For an artist who is getting started, I would suggest participating in a group show.  Group shows are a great way to develop relationships with galleries, network with other artists, and discover patrons.  They are also less work for the artist than a solo show – the gallery will help install artwork, promote the show, and help arrange the opening.

I thought I’d share some quick tips I’ve gained from years of showing my work.

As always, feel free to comment – your feedback is appreciated! {I’ll be back next week with a new studio update!}

❤ Grace Willard

Components to Submitting an Application

There are some basic things you’ll need in order to get started showing your work.


Work Sample: The first thing you’ll need to show your work is….artwork.  Not just artwork; high quality digital images that clearly represent the artworks you wish to exhibit.  Since not everyone is a photographer, if you have any doubts about the quality of your images find some one who is willing to take photos for you.  You’d be surprised who wants to help!

A work sample usually contains 10 images, but some calls to artists may ask for a different number.  The general rule of thumb is to follow the directions.

Examples: Grace Willard | Kamala Kingsley | Larkin

CV (Artist Resume):  Is  2-3 page document that lists your achievements in the arts.  Some of the information to include would be your artistic education,  exhibits you’ve participated in (if any), awards or publications, and professional artistic memberships.  If you’re really new to exhibiting you can combine your artist statement or bio with your CV until you get more experience.  I suggest creating yours as an  easy to read lists in reverse chronological order.

Resources:  Writing Your Artist Resume by Annie Stack.

Examples:  Mandy Greer | Diem Chau | Chris Crites

Artist Statement: Is a statement that informs the viewer about your work.  You could use this to address themes in your work more in depth, mention your influences, or describe any unusual materials or processes used to create your work.  As you create more work you’ll need to revise your resume to reflect your artistic growth.  It can be tricky to write about your own work; its important to make sure that it reflects what your work is about not what you’d like your work it be about.  Ask a friend to help proof read and provide feedback before sending your artist statement anywhere.

Resources: Advice from Molly Gordon

Article from Art Business

Examples:| Etsuko Ichikawa | Lucia Neare | Renee Adams

Finding Calls to Artists

Now that you have all of your materials its time to find the right venue.  Here are my top 3:

4 Culture

Artist Trust

Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

There is some controversy about applying to exhibits that require a fee to enter.  There are many free calls to artists – so if finances are an issue apply to those first.  Many artists feel angry that they must pay a fee even though they are not always guaranteed a place in a show.  My advice to those people would be to volunteer at a gallery or public art space to see the amount of work, effort, and expense goes into creating an art show!  I would suggest that if there is a gallery you would like to show at, curator you’d like to work with, or a juror you’d you’d like to see your artwork apply.

Where to Go for More Help

Still stuck?  Here is an excellent resource online.  You can also leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question.

Artist Trust Online Development Tools

* 07/02/2010 11:29PST – I just wanted to mention that the artists linked in this post are not only admired for their creative works, but also are regarded as some of the leading artists in local professionalism.  I want to thank them for making their professional materials online to the benefit of others – thank you.  I’ve included my own artwork in the portfolio section because I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ve been able to produce a consistent work sample nonetheless. Oh and also shameless promotion.

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§ 3 Responses to Professional Artist: Getting a Group Show

  • Andie deRoux says:

    Grace,
    you have some good advice here. I agree with all of it, except for the fee portion.

    Artists should never ever pay a fee to submit their work for consideration in a show in my opinion. Often the fee is the profit model of the organization, and selling your work during the show is almost an afterthought. Don’t fall for it. If 500 artists send in apps with $30 each, then the organizer has just pocketed 15k. Vanity galleries like Agora gallery(shutter) in NYC are a fine example of this exploitation and end up being a blight on your resume. Don’t do it! Good quality galleries and art spaces are what you want on your resume. Never pay to show, you already put your blood, sweat and tears into your work already. If they love it, they will want to show it. Your work is too precious to pay someone to look at it.

    -Andie

    • gracewillard says:

      Hi Andie! Thanks for your feedback 😀

      I agree that artists do have to be careful when applying to shows that require fees – there are a lot of people out there who do scam artists! Since I don’t give those type of venues the time of day I was thinking more along the lines of small non-profit gallery spaces. I know galleries like the Phinney Center Gallery (Seattle,WA) and the Lynnwood Library (Lynnwood,WA) some times charge a nominal fee to enter juried exhibitions. They use the collected fees for postcards, food for the opening, and administrative fees which are reasonable expenses.

      I think if an artist is considering paying for the opportunity to submit to a group show they should be careful and do their homework. Visiting the gallery or talking to other artists who have shown there would definitely be a starting point!

  • […] two months – which I find incredibly encouraging {thank you!}.  After my post last week, Professional Artist: Getting a Group Show,  gathered more than 50 views in the first two hours it was published I realized that not all blog […]

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