This is one in a collection of articles intended to help you, the artist, make the most of your exhibiting career. Part 1, Why Exhibit Your Artwork, Part 1: Ambition to Community, is here.
So why should you exhibit your artwork? Even though it can be scary or difficult? Because your artwork is worth it. The following are some reasons to exhibit, listed in alphabetical order, not in any order of perceived value. This alphabet begins with the letter G. For A to C, click here.
Growth: We learn by trying out ideas under new circumstances. When you take your art to the world, your understanding grows. Even the knowledge that your art will be seen in public will alter your experience of it. You may become more creative with this awareness, you may protect yourself, you may stretch your capacities or return to what you know works. Whatever happens, you will change.
Income through sales: You might consign artwork to a professional gallery. You might operate your own sales outlet or operate a booth at an art or craft fair or market. You might sell your art online from your own website, or through an online art gallery or marker. Any of these options may have advantages and disadvantages, and you should know about your own and the seller’s needs and capabilities before you commit. But all sales opportunities have one thing in common: they are a chance to generate income from selling the product of your creativity, income that will not exist if you don’t offer the product for sale.
Income without selling: The payment of exhibition fees to artists when their work is exhibited in public spaces other than for sale or rent is an established practice in Canada and has been part of Canadian copyright law since 1988. In Canada, the CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Fee Schedule provides guidelines on what visual and media artists should be paid for their copyright and other professional services, and most public funders require that museums and public galleries pay royalties and fees according to these guidelines. Other jurisdictions have other requirements. It’s worth finding out what these are.
Professionalism: While the artist’s most important role is the creation of art, you won’t be considered a professional artist if you don’t take your art to the world. Whether your interest is related to funding, taxation, the way others see you and your artwork, or developing ongoing opportunities, an exhibition record is one of the artist’s qualifications. It’s a key way that funders, the viewing public, and other artists know how you see yourself.
Satisfaction: There is absolutely nothing like seeing the results of your creativity, the invention of your hand and brain, in a place where people go. When your artwork is installed in an exhibition, properly spaced and lit, in a context where it hasn’t been before, you have the chance to see it as you never have. You made this. You gave it life. Let others see that life also.
And if this conversation strikes a chord for you and you’d like to talk more about any of these topics, please check out my Artist Mentoring services here.
This article was originally published as a blog post in 2015 and has been updated for 2021. If you’d like to know when new articles for your art career are published, please sign up here. I’ll always keep your email address private.