Checklist for a Successful Art Exhibition: 25 Tasks to Level Up Your Creative Practice

Introduction Planning and organizing an art exhibition is an exciting milestone for any artist, whether you're emerging or established. It not only validates your work but also presents an opportunity to enhance your business goals...


Planning and organizing an art exhibition is an exciting milestone for any artist, whether you're emerging or established. It not only validates your work but also presents an opportunity to enhance your business goals and artistic visibility. Drawing from my decade of experience in advising artists, I have compiled a checklist of 25 tasks that can lead to a successful art exhibition. Each task is worth considering and can inspire you to innovate and improve your overall experience in the art world.

Set Clear Goals

☐ Set your goals for the art exhibition

Having a financial goal is great, but you can also set other benchmarks. Consider aiming to sell a specific number of pieces from a particular series, expanding your network, or establishing stronger connections with art professionals. Be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) when setting your goals.

Create a Captivating Title and Description

☐ Refine a show title and description

If you're involved in shaping the direction of the exhibition, ensure it has a catchy title and a short description that quickly communicates what to expect from the show. Capture the audience's curiosity and make it easy for the media to understand your exhibition's essence.

Offer Variety within Cohesion

☐ Bring a variety of work (yet still cohesive body)

Diversify your offerings to generate more sales. Provide artwork in different sizes and price points, giving potential buyers options to choose from while maintaining a cohesive theme throughout your collection.

Leverage Social Media

☐ Create a social media promotion plan

Don't underestimate the power of social media. Develop a content calendar to strategically promote your exhibition before, during, and after the event. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and LinkedIn are ideal for sharing visual content and attracting potential collectors.

Consider Payment Options

☐ Consider payment options at the show

Make it easy for buyers to pay for your artwork. Sign up for payment platforms like Venmo or learn about other phone-based payment methods. Offering installment plans can also help potential buyers who may find your prices too steep.

Know Your Target Market

☐ Review your target market

Track your sales to understand who your buyers are. Assess the demographic information of your collectors to identify patterns based on age, race, gender, and economic status. This knowledge will build confidence when engaging with potential buyers who align with your target market.

Organize Activation Events

☐ Organize activation events

Besides the opening night, explore additional ways to attract patrons to your exhibition. For instance, if environmental issues inspire your art, organize a talk by a local educator to discuss climate change's impact. Leverage their network to enhance your exposure and create added value for visitors.

VIP Exclusivity

☐ Invite VIPs to private tours

Make your collectors feel special by offering private tours of your exhibition. Review your database and identify individuals who would appreciate this exclusive experience. Personal invitations can strengthen your relationship with collectors.

Get Press Coverage

☐ Send out a press release

Encourage the exhibition host to distribute a press release. Collaborate with them and offer assistance if needed. Generating media coverage can significantly boost your visibility in the art community and attract potential buyers.

Dress to Impress

☐ Wear a professional outfit

Dress professionally and choose an outfit that reflects your style. Consider what you want to convey to attendees and how you want your artwork to complement your appearance.

Allocate Time for Reflection

☐ Block your calendar

After the opening night, block the following day on your calendar. Use this time to decompress, reflect on conversations and connections made, and explore opportunities that may have arisen from the exhibition.

Send Personal Invitations

☐ Send out a postcard

Create postcards featuring an image of you, your artwork, and exhibition details. Send them to your network, using snail mail, offering a personal touch that stands out in the digital age.

Engage with Your Audience through Newsletters

☐ Email a newsletter

Utilize email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Flodesk to create a newsletter that highlights your exhibition. Consider including an RSVP link to gauge attendance and interest.

Showcase with Professional Labels

☐ Print out wall labels

Collaborate with the exhibition host to ensure wall labels are printed in an appropriate size, displaying the artwork's title, dimensions, media, and price. Alternatively, you can create personalized labels using platforms like Artwork Archive.

Provide Price Sheets

☐ Generate price sheets

Offer potential buyers a price sheet that includes thumbnail images and details of each piece alongside your contact information. This allows them to review and contemplate their purchase decisions at their own pace.

Maintain an Updated Website

☐ Review your website

Regularly update your website to accurately reflect your current body of work. Additionally, ensure your CV and artist statement are refreshed and align with your present artistic practice.

Share Your Artistic Journey

☐ Share your artist statement

If permitted, frame and display your artist statement near your artwork or on a nearby table. This provides viewers with a deeper understanding of your inspirations, artistic process, and the medium you work with.

Networking Essential

☐ Remember business cards

Business cards remain an important networking tool. Design cards that include an image of your artwork and your contact information in a legible font. Distribute them when engaging with potential buyers or industry professionals.

Gather Contacts

☐ Bring a guest book

Place a guest book at the exhibition entrance, allowing guests to provide their contact information. This valuable data can help you stay connected with potential buyers and interested individuals.

Sweeten the Experience

☐ Consider a sweet treat

If exhibiting at a street festival or artist-driven fair, offering a small treat at your booth can attract more visitors. People often find themselves drawn to booths that provide a little indulgence.

Expand Your Reach

☐ Attract more clients with a prize drawing

If the exhibition draws a large crowd, consider organizing a prize drawing. Encourage visitors to add their business cards to a receptacle for a chance to win a small or inexpensive artwork. This allows you to capture additional contact information for potential collectors.

Update Your Database

☐ Update your database

Utilize the time you blocked on your calendar after the opening to update your database with all the new contacts you've made. Maintaining an organized and updated database is crucial for your art practice's long-term success.

Show Appreciation

☐ Write thank you notes

Personalized thank-you cards go a long way in building lasting connections with buyers. Take the time to handwrite heartfelt messages to those who purchase your artwork, expressing your gratitude for their support.

Follow-Up with Attendees

☐ Send personalized follow-up emails to attendees

Within a week after your opening, send personalized follow-up emails to thank attendees for their presence. For those who expressed interest but haven't made a purchase, offer them an in-person or Zoom studio tour to further engage them in your artistic journey.

Strengthen Your Inventory

☐ Update inventory

Keep track of where your artwork has been shown, who purchased it, and other relevant details. Tools like Artwork Archive can help you efficiently manage and organize your art practice. Sign up to streamline your inventory management.

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