“I know I’ve grown as an artist when even though I think the damn car is just an O.K. shout, since everyone likes it, I’ve included it in the show”.
– Stu Jenks
I’m getting ready for a large show next month and am in the throws of the typical artist dilemma – what to include??? Since I do all of my own printing, cost is less of an issue than for others, though each piece has to be matted, framed or stretched and all that adds up. Then there is the question of wall space. Which pieces should be on the walls and which should just be matted and sold from bins? Photographers have the added decisions of what size(s) to print and on what material. How many of each to have on hand?
So how do you decide? There are the pieces that you love but you suspect the public may not wish to stare at in their living room every day. Then there are the old warhorses that you are sick of but sell year after year. There’s the new work that you’ve had little or no feedback on and the stuff you can’t bear to look at any more (but someone seeing it for the first time could love it!).
Do you ask for advice from your friends? Do you focus on what is likely to sell? Do you factor in the likely demographics of who will see the show? Do you show your best individual pieces or is it better to show a body of work, or at least groupings that are related, even at the expense of some overall quality?
Let’s not even talk about pricing… Or coming up with names for everything – that gives me a headache.
As in most things, I think the best strategy is one of balance. I’m going to have some work in the show that is just for me (my tastes are a little unusual for where I live) and some that I suspect will sell (because it has before). Some work will be new and some not – even though we get repeat visitors each year, the majority are first timers so the work is all new to them. I’ll have some good stuff, some stuff that’s OK and probably a few that should not have seen the light of day.