We’re doing a three-part series on how to make your art show or launch a success! For part 1 we’re talking about what needs to happen before opening night… For part 2 on selling during your art show, click here. For part 3 on doubling your art show launch sales, click here.

You can download our Ultimate 39 Step Art Show Prep checklist here.

Planning an art show or the launch of a new collection in the near future? For many artists, it’s an important career milestone. After all, there’s a big difference between someone scrolling past a couple pieces of artwork you’ve posted to social media, and someone walking into a room filled with your work, or seeing an entire collection of your pieces in a sales environment.

Unfortunately, in my role as a coach for artists and creative entrepreneurs, I see far too many artists become discouraged when no one shows up to their opening night, or when sales fall far short of what they expected. Have you experienced this?

This doesn’t mean that no one likes your work! It just means that you need to do a little more preparation ahead of time to make sure that your art gets the attention and sales it deserves.

Can I let you in on a secret? The key to your success is building momentum—long before opening night or the day of your launch.

But how exactly do you do that? Here’s three essential things you should do before your show opens:

1) Set your goals, intentions, and make an action plan:

Maybe you’ve been planning to do an art show for a long time, or maybe the opportunity simply dropped into your lap. However it happened, before you get carried away choosing pieces and printing invites, stop and consider what you want to get out of the event.

Do you want to communicate a particular message? Are you hoping to reach a certain number of sales?

It’s not enough to simply say, “I’m going to have a show!” and throw pieces up on the walls. Take the time to create a plan for what needs to happen between now and opening night, consider your budget for materials and promotion, and decide what benchmarks need to be met for you to consider the event a success.

2) Plan how to sell your work:

Every artist’s dream is for their work to sell itself—without any input from you. But almost no one will come up to you and simply offer to hand over their money.

Consider how you can present your work in a professional way with information, framing, and high quality photos, create a sales procedure that includes how you accept payment and deliver the product, and learn how to talk about your work in a friendly, engaging way.

3) Promote yourself early and often:

Many artists wait until the last few days before a launch or opening night before even hinting to their followers that something big is coming up. This is a huge mistake! If you’ve waited that long, it’s too late.

You should start promoting your new art show or launch as soon as possible. Ideally, this is as soon as you start creating the pieces for the exhibition—or, if you’ll be showing work that’s already created—as soon as the ink on your contract is dry!

Plan how many posts per week and what topics you’ll cover, build a list of the people you want to invite, and then stick as closely to your plan as possible. The results you’ll see are directly proportionate to the amount of promotion you do beforehand.

Doing all of these things may sound overwhelming. But I want you to succeed—and the easiest way to reach your goals is to prepare for these things ahead of time.


Want to ditch the overwhelm and get a “Done for You” Checklist with everything you need to do before, during, and after your show or launch? We’ve got you covered! Click here for our FREE Ultimate Art Show Prep Checklist we created for artists just like you!