Throw Back to my First Art Exhibit and Advice
A throw back to the very first art exhibit I was in after college. Wow.. young, excited, and so naive to the art world. I dropped my art off to the gallery volunteer with a glimmer in my eye and didn't look back; until I did because I suddenly realized that I received no contract and just left my art with a bunch of strangers. I quickly ran back and asked for a contract or something that proved my art was mine and on loan for the show. I got a crooked eye and a cardboard scribble with sharpie marker. Should have been a red flag, but I was too excited to be in a real art show in a gallery.
The show was fun, crowded, and I felt like a "real" artist. People actually liked my paintings. It was an awesome feeling and one I will always remember; but I learned a lot from that first exhibit and if I can give my young self or other young artists some advice, it would be...
1. Always get some form of contract from the gallery and one that is in writing. Not just a random thrown together scribble on a garbage piece o cardboard. It's called proof that you dropped off your work and that the gallery received it.
2. Don't trust every fly by night gallery that pops up. I know the feeling of getting into your first show is exciting, but research the gallery.
3. Remember to price your work based on comparable art and like it's worth something. You aren't Walmart, value your work.
4. Keep track of the gallery and all contact info including owner and staff.
So back to the show
This show ended with a great night, but once the night was over the learning experience began. The gallery boarded its doors basically overnight. It took me 4 months to track my paintings down. Multiple letters from my agent (my husband) threatening the gallery and owner to give my paintings back. We posted these letters on the gallery doors and mailed them certified to the gallery and the owners home. Finally after much stress and leg work on my part, I got my paintings back. This wasn't easy though, as they were mailed back to my old apartment address and I had no idea. Finally getting a hold of the gallery owner, he told me he mailed them back. I quickly went to my old apartment which was not close and knocked on the door. My painting were sitting in a large box in the hallway. One with a huge hole through the middle of the box and canvas. I didn't care though because I had gotten my artwork back.
I told myself I was going to fix the hole in the canvas. I even walked to my local artist shop and had them cut the repair piece of canvas to fit perfectly. In the end I decided to leave the hole as a reminder of this learning experience. The excitement I felt for that event and then the knowledge that came after it.
~ Julia Finucane