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Thread: What do I do?

  1. #1
    gr82bart's Avatar
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    What do I do?

    So I have my first solo exhibition coming up in February! A friend of mine who owns a popular cafe/restauarant in Toronto asked me if I wanted the month February - so I said sure. Now I'm like, what the heck did I just agree to?!?

    Anyway here are my plans so far - made up last night on the plane - so tell me what you guys who have done this before think...

    "Gallery" Stuff
    1. 12 photographs - all taken with film of course (but not necessarily printed in the traditional method as I shoot 99% transparencies)
    2. 8x8 size images matted, mounted and framed in 11x16 museum quality
    3. Background is open brick, painted white, all natural lights with some incadescent lights - no spot lights available
    4. I am thinking 4 traditional B&W, 2 scala on digital Ilfochrome, 6 colour on digital Ilfochrome - haven't thought of a theme yet, so this may all change - thinking street scenes of Chicago

    Opening Night
    1. Invitee list of 250+ locals (I have a lot of friends in Toronto), probably 50-70 will come
    2. Thursday or Friday evening
    3. Hors d'oeurves - I'll ask my friend to come up with something for 50 people
    4. Cash bar
    5. I'll ask another friend to play with her band there - vey funky all girl band

    Marketing
    1. Postcards? Maybe 250-500 of them? I dunno.
    2. Artist bio and stuff - do I need this?

    Pricing
    1. Each print (mount, mat and frame) $1000CAD. 25% of proceeds to go to United Way of Greater Toronto.

    Schedule
    1. Display from Saturday, February 3 to Saturday, March 3.
    2. Hanging on February 2
    3. Take down on March 4
    4. Opening on February 8 or 9
    5. Postcards/marketing out by November 30
    6. Prints made by November 30
    7. Prints framed by January 15

    That's all I could think of right now. Comments and feedback on my plan are welcome.

    Regards, Art.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem

  2. #2
    thebanana's Avatar
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    Congratulations on taking this opportunity Art! It sounds like you've got plans well in hand. Good Luck with the project.

    John
    "While you're out there smashing the state, don't forget to keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart!"

  3. #3

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    It seems to me to be an unusual choice to print to 8x8 and mount on 11x16..but if that pleases you go for it. Were I to choose a non-standard size mounting board I might choose something like 12x12 inches.

    I do hope that your exhibition is most sucessful. At the very least it should get you out of the garage for awhile.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  4. #4
    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Well, I have absolutely no useful insight for you, Art! But, I just wanted to say congrats to you!
    Jeanette
    .................................................. ................
    Isaiah 25:1

  5. #5
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Art- while I know that the USD is stronger than the Can$, $1000 Cdn seems a bit steep for prints in your first ever exhibition, especially at a cafe. You would know your local market better than I, so maybe that's the going rate for art in a cafe. I'm donating some work to a local AIDS charity auction, and pricing it at $400 for the auction night itself. This is an 8x10 Palladium print, mounted and framed to 16x20. I'm donating the rest of the edition to them on a 50/50 split, for whatever the print sells for at the auction.

    I'd be wary of the charity donation if you do not have explicit support from the United Way chapter, as it doesn't usually increase sales. It may help your customers feel better about the purchase, but it won't by itself get someone who is fence-sitting to buy something they weren't already going to buy. It usually works better the other way round... "Oh, if I donate another $100 Cdn to the United Way, I also get this cool photo, and not just a receipt and a thank-you form letter. "

    As to the exhibition, while you can mix different types of prints, you are more likely to be successful if you exhibit one thing consistently- all b/w fiber prints, or all color, or all scala/ilfochrome. What is on the wall and highlighted should be consistent. Bring baskets of matted but unframed stuff along to sell in addition, and the baskets can be totally mixed. IF your budget for the show can handle it, I'd take your matts up to 14x17, to give you a nice, bigger white space around your images to separate them from the brick wall, ESPECIALLY if you are exhibiting color. The red brick will automatically influence the color perception of the prints on the wall, especially since you are hanging in mixed lighting.

    Postcards - more is better. Especially since more costs very little more than less does. Get at least 1000 cards made. You can then leave stacks of them at the cafe for people to take home. Most cafe/restaurant/bookstore buyers don't buy on impulse... they see the work, they go home, think about it, and come back. You'll be more likely to get follow-up sales after the show closes if customers can take home a postcard. Also, you can give the cafe a fat stack to mail out - I'm sure the cafe owner has his own mailing list. You might even be able to get him to pay for part of the printing (hint hint!).

    The artist bio and statement about the work is nice, but not required. I've done a little blurb to put up next to my work, and framed it in a cheap MCS plastic "invisible" frame so it will hang alongside the work and be there to speak for me when I'm not. It is a good way to post your prices and contact information, especially if the cafe has run out of your postcards and you haven't been by to restock yet (remember this point!).
    Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; 09-29-2006 at 01:36 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: oops- currency conversion mistake

  6. #6

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    I would agree with TFC that a million dollars a print for your first exhibition may be rather expensive.
    Last edited by Claire Senft; 09-29-2006 at 05:24 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: oops word conversion mistake.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  7. #7
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gr82bart View Post
    Schedule
    1. Display from Saturday, February 3 to Saturday, March 3.
    2. Hanging on February 2
    3. Take down on March 4
    4. Opening on February 8 or 9
    5. Postcards/marketing out by November 30
    Mailing invitations/postcards on November 30 for a show opening on Feb. 8 is WAY too early; even more so because the Christmas season falls in between. We do a lot of exhibitions in our Art Guild, and I've done solo and group shows, and we always mail the invitations around 2 weeks before the opening. Earlier, and they get thrown in the trash and forgotten before the opening; later, and they may get lost in the mail, or the recipient may have already made plans for the evening. If you want to do a teaser mailing early, do it maybe in late December or early January, and then the official invitations 2 weeks before the opening.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  8. #8
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    Art, let me start with congratulations and a vote of confidence. Your work is great and you'll have a wonderful time with this show. That said, I have the following, very subjective feedback.

    $1000 is indeed steep for prints in a cafe, no matter what the crowd, no matter how good the work. $1000 pays for name recognition or square footage of image, not quality. Large oils bring 4 figures, small prints do not. Harsh, but there it is. If you haven't got a record of bringing that figure in with regularity, drop the price by half at least.

    Send your cards out so that the "fridge-magnet time", the time each invite is in the home before the show, is two weeks or so. If the card becomes a fixture rather than a reminder, people will forget to go.

    Plan the food to be a bit short and the wine to be a bit long. It's easier to take home leftover wine - and too much cheese dip has never enticed a person to impulse buying.

    Don't forget to have fun. Showing your work all by itself is exhilarating, or should be. Enjoy being the center of attention. You are worth it.

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    I'm getting ready for a group show with live music in a small mid-west town. My 11x14 B&W prints archivally mounted and matted to 16x20 will be priced at $20 USD, and $40 in frames. They do sell. I'm going to try a few smaller and less expensive prints at this event for the first time. Prices will increase slightly in a year or two to keep up with the cost of supplies. Publicity is being done by the sponser of the event. I don't send out cards, since repeat customers know where I exhibit.

    You must have a great market or some generous friends. Your restaurant friend should have knowledge of what arrangements to make and what to charge. So should other photographers in the area. Good luck on your first solo show!

  10. #10
    gr82bart's Avatar
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    Hi Folks,

    First, thanks for all the words of encouragement.

    I see this opportunity as a way to showcase my work and not make any money. I was never into photography to make any money. Honestly, if I don't sell a single print in my lifetime, I feel I won't miss a thing. So, that being said, if someone wants to buy my print on display at this show, it's a $1000. (Otherwise, I'll give it away as gifts! Funny, eh?)

    I'm not sure where I got the 11x16 size. It was late and I have been traveling a lot. The frames will be 16x20. Windows will still be 8x8. I just seem to like the proportion and overall look. Plus I can get them (mat with window, mount, frame) pre-made from Nielson-Bainbridge. The cat's out of the bag here!

    The suggestion about having the same medium is valid. I'm thinking about that one seriously. Editing is very, very difficult for me. I'll be recruiting help on this one. I need it. I remember the amount of time I spent on my book with just my recent pics I took on my new Hassey. And I'm still not satisfied! I haven't even touched the tens of thousands 35mm slides I have or a nearly equal number of B&W negs from my early university and highschool days.

    Thanks for the mailing timelines. Two weeks it is. Since I'll have to send the postcards from the States to Canada, I may make it three weeks! Just in case. I have just realized that I probably need to pick out an image for my postcard too! Argh, more editing.

    The United Way thing isn't meant as a publicity or marketing stunt. It's just if I do sell something, I'll make a donation. I promise!

    For the opening, I just want the guests to have a good time. Good food, good drinks, good music, good friends and family, good images to look at? Hope so.

    This is all very exciting. Plus you are all invited. Seriously.

    Regards, Art.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem

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