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Approaching the 'E' Word (Exhibits)

It's generally accepted that what aspiring artists fear above all else is failure, plain and simple. They fear failing in their profession, not being able to be successful, of being utterly rejected, of the artwork they painstakingly poured their blood, sweat and tears into being forever misunderstood and unappreciated.

Exhibits...I politely argue that there is no word more terrifying to the aspiring artist (as seen in photo 1) The very word strikes fear into the hearts of aspiring artists in every artistic genre and medium. The mere idea of an art exhibit is enough to make even the most assured starry-eyed aspiring artist a little nervous. Art exhibits live in the world of the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, the expensive, and the impossibly high class.

These preconceived notions aren't just incorrect, but downright silly.

The truth is that exhibits aren't as unattainable as they seem to be (as seen in photo 2) The artists whose works are on display in galleries don't exist on another plane of reality; they are merely daunting, intimidating. Every person who has ever had their work hanging up in an exhibit, museum, or show started out with their work not in a show (seems fairly obvious, but is worth mentioning). They first had their work hanging up on their parent’s fridge, or submitted their early pieces to a school art contest or local show. Everyone has to start out somewhere (as seen in photo 3). Where there's a will, there's a way.

But where do we even start? First, decide where you should submit your work.

Begin by researching some local venues. If you live in a small town, there may be fewer opportunities to display your work, so look into nearby cities. Try college campuses and universities, libraries, museums, hospitals, etc. Make a list of locations that accept art submissions, and find out what type of art they're looking for.

Find out how much it costs to submit your artwork for consideration. There's usually a fee for each submission, regardless of where you're submitting. Read over their application and follow their rules and be sure to include all of the necessary information. If your application is hand-written, use your best hand-writing (although a typed application may be better-- find out which method of submission is preferred). Make sure your present your work in a way that's flattering to your work. You'll need to submit a portfolio or a specific work depending on the situation, so be sure to find out what method of submission they're looking for (For example, photos or high quality scans of the artwork or the original artwork itself). If it's necessary to create a new piece of work for the show, be sure you do it and  tha you meet all deadlines given to you.

Find out if your work needs to be matted or framed prior to submission. There's a proper way to mat and frame a piece of art. This process included making sure the mat layers are colored and textured in a way that complements the artwork being matted. The size of the matting is also important.

Find out when your work will be on display. Where and when the work will be on display? Will there be a meet and greet? Price your work realistically. And of course, be prepared for your work to be sold or not sell. The likeliness of selling your art really depends on where the art is being displayed, who sees it, and what sort of art it is-- you need to be equally prepared to take back your work of art or letting it go.

If putting your work in an exhibit is something you want to do, then go for it (as seen in photo 4) Work hard, and do your best. Put your best work forward, and see where the opportunity will take you.

Photo Credits:

All images are courtesy of


Making the Most of Art Gallery Shows and Exhibits: Understanding and Working with Gallery Owners. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2014, from Art website:

How to Get a First Show at an Art Gallery What Galleries Look for in Artists. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2014, from Art website:

How Any Artist Can Price Their Art for Sale. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2014, from Art website:

Lieu, C. (2013, October 22). Ask the Art Professor: How Can I Get Into Art Exhibitions? Retrieved October 31, 2014, from website:

Current Exhibitions. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2014, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website: