Have you ever had to spend a lot of time searching all over the internet for your next art show? If you are anything like me, and are not represented by a gallery you have to go through the hustle and bustle and find ways to show your work outside of social media.
Getting your work in front of people is not comparable to pictures. No matter how good the images are, they will always have a different effect in person. But how do you know where your work fits in and will be appreciated? You don’t until you try.
It sucks, but at times you will find yourself as part of a group show you wish you never participated in, or the crowd is completely unreceptive of your artistry, but over time you will be able to select the best options for you! To give you a jump start I want to share my favorite ways to find art shows, art contests and places to display my art work.
Most restaurants (and coffee shops) decorate their walls with art work, pay closer attention the next time you go out to eat. Are the pieces tagged with information about the artist? Is the work on the wall different from the last time you ate there? If the answer to either question is yes, ask for the manager and inquire about how they go about selecting the art work on display.
Restaurants might not be the traditional way to show art work, but think about how many people on a daily basis will be able to discover your work. On top of that most of the times you will be able to show for free, and keep 100% of your sales – I ran across a couple of location that asked for a percentage of any sales made while in their location, or asked to have an opening reception to get new clients in their location.
A few location in Houston that I can suggest you go and shoot your shot at are:
If used the right way, Facebook is so much more than fake news, catfish and first day of school pictures. At the beginning of each month I venture to the event section and search for “art” events near me. In the midst of gallery openings, sip and paint parties and theater plays, you might find open calls from smaller galleries and art festivals looking for vendors. This is where you will have to decided how much are you willing to pay to be a part of a show without knowing too much of what type of crowd to expect.
When it comes to these, my approach is: if I can spare the entry fee money, I will check it out and remove any lingering “what if” feeling about it. I can’t think of nothing worst than passing on a show only to find out there were collectors buying art left and right, and you were at home living your best starving artist life ( ok there are a lot of things worst than that but let me be dramatic here!).
3. Listings for Artists
These are pure gold! When I first came across these websites I honestly thought they were yet another way to be spammed by million of emails – subscribing is the best way to stay up to date with events – and well, I was right about the emails, but they were truly useful. These websites will list art calls and art contest opportunities across the country, from a little art fair all the way to being contracted by a city and if that wasn’t enough they share a lot of paid opportunities. So go ahead and bookmark them:
This is one of my favorite, once you sign up and create your profile, you can manage your portfolio an have images ready for applications, which beats having to upload an image every time you apply for something new. As you grow and create more work, you can keep adding new images.
This is another great one for opportunities around the country, and applying is free.
This is similar to CaFÉ , it’s your control center for managing the process of applying to shows. On this site you can review the status of each application as well as to your Portfolio and show applications.
I haven’t used this one as much as the rest because is not as polished. I find it a bit harder to filter through the noise, and have a laser focused search, but with the right hashtag search you might be able to find the right open call for you. Try some of these and definitely come up with any combination that makes the most sense for you: #opencallforartists #artistopencall #artcall #artistsearch #artshowopencall
The ultimate goal for a lot of artists is to be able to showcase their craft at museums, or at least I know that is something I aim for. Regardless to representation and exposure galleries have open calls for all artists, and they are usually free. If you know in which museum you would like to have your art displayed, go to their website and look for their open call season – it is usually on a once or twice a year basis – and apply. If you get in great, if you don’t go to the show, and check out the pieces that were accepted to gain some insight on what it is that the gallery looks for and to learn if your work would be a good fit, or if it’s time to search for the next place.
Obviously word of mouth is always an option and chances are you have a few artists friends. Ask them where they go, who they talk to what works for them ( if they don’t share you need better friends!)
Make sure to look out for vanity galleries. Those are galleries that simply prey on the desire of artists to share their work. All they want is your money and ones they got it, chances are that they won’t put any effort in selling your work. Same goes for vanity art magazines. How would you know? Well do your research, Google them and check reviews, but mainly you should be suspicious of any one that reaches out to you, saying they found your work online and would just love to showcase your work on their magazine at a awesome price of $299.99 oh and of course you will have to buy a copy of the publication for only $99.99.
How do you find shows to apply for? Share anything you think I should have mentioned!
Ciao for now,