Alternative Exhibition Spaces for Artists

An important aspect of creative art marketing is finding new opportunities to exhibit your art. If you are just embarking on your art career, you may encounter difficulty getting into traditional galleries, especially because the current economy is making art galleries less inclined to take on emerging artists with no proven sales record. While participating in art fairs is another option for artists who want to get their art in the public eye, some of the best art fairs charge high booth fees (in the ballpark of $200 for one weekend), which can be a huge chunk of money for emerging artists on a tight budget. So what’s the best route for emerging artists?

To launch your art career, take your future into your own hands. Seek alternative exhibition spaces and create your own opportunities for exhibiting your work. Here are a few ideas for alternative exhibition spaces that will help get you started:

  • Cafes, restaurants and coffee shops – Many independently-owned cafes and restaurants are open to the idea of hanging the work of local artists. Some may request a small commission on works sold while others will let you hang your work for free.
  • Your own home – Transform your living room into a temporary gallery space. Send out invitations to everyone you know as well as local art critics and gallery owners. If you have several artist friends living nearby, see if they are interested in opening up their homes in a similar way on a certain evening, and you can advertise your “open houses” as part of an Art Walk.
  • Office buildings – If you work in an office, or have a friend or relative who does, ask if you could hang a temporary exhibit on their walls. You never know who might see your art and what kind of contacts (and sales!) you could make as a result.
  • Libraries – Most libraries have changing exhibitions throughout their buildings, and some even actively seek out local artists to exhibit. Inquire at the front desk of your local library.
  • Bank lobbies – Hanging artwork in bank lobbies can work especially well if you do regional art, such as local landscapes or cityscapes, but other types of art can be hung in bank lobbies, too. If people already have their wallet out, they are in a prime position to buy art.
  • Empty warehouse or storefront – Offer to rent an empty warehouse or storefront for a month, or even for just a week or a weekend. (If you rent it for a short time, be sure that you advertise widely so that people know about your special art event.) Landlords will usually be glad to let you fill the storefront, rather than have an empty window. You will even be doing your city a favor by revitalizing the area with art and culture. If you can’t afford the rent by yourself, round up a group of artists to chip in.
  • Sell art from the trunk of your car. This may sound extreme, but this practice has been used by folk artists around the world. You can set up by the side of the road (but be sure to check beforehand whether or not you need a permit). Be sure to have a large eye-catching sign proclaiming “art for sale” and display some of your pieces on easels next to your car, so that people will know what you have to offer.

No matter where you are in your art career, the opportunities for exhibition are always out there – even if you have to create them yourself!

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