Tips for Showing Your Artwork In Person for the First Time

Get your work out there!

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to show my handmade wooden products in person for the first time. All artists should really participate in these types of events. I was able to participate in the Uptown Butte Art Walk, but you could also show your work at farmers markets, craft fairs, or whatever is going on near you. It’s a great way to get feedback and see how people interact with your art. I wanted to share some things I learned when showing my work for the first time.

How should you display your work?

If you’ve been practicing your work for some time, you probably have a theme to your work. It’s important to make sure your display reflects the theme you have curated. When I first thought about showing my work I figured I could arrange them nicely over a white sheet with just a few cylindrical glass containers. How wrong was I! I quickly realized how boring this looked and started searching for more items to bring to the table.

Heading to the garage, I looked for scraps, unfinished lumber, and pieces that were still in progress to use for bringing in some depth to such a flat surface. This also helped to distinguish various collections. Still, it could use more help. I brought over a few of my small plants to add some color and strengthen the relationship with nature. Finally, it was getting somewhere.

The way the products interact with light is something I always try to show through videos and photography. Different textures reflect light in amusing ways and light enhances certain tones in the wood. Having bought several sheets of brass for a new line of products, I brought those over to see if they could help. They added the perfect amount of a warm-toned reflection that matched the same cozy feeling wood renders.

Following the cozy vibes I believe we all get from wooden products, I wanted lighting that could intensify that feeling. String lights have always been a cheerful sight – and I recently discovered a love for the tiny string lights. Placing the tiny string lights on each corner in addition to a larger string light border along the backside brought it all together.

Some Tips for Your Next Display

I definitely recommend practicing your set up at home before the event. I did a trial set up at home the night before and was so glad I did! My initial idea of how to display was nowhere near complete. Below is a list of things I hadn’t considered but quickly realized their importance.

I made a list of some suggestions to consider when designing your display:

  • Lighting – This is a great detail to help distinguish your look. It can depend on the venue’s lighting, so make sure to take that into account. Should your work be brightly lit? Have a cozy relaxing lighting?
  • Depth – Adding varying heights creates visual interest and differentiation between your items.
  • Balance – Is your display balanced? The arrangement of your products should help lead your viewer’s eyes across your table.
  • Details – These can be anything that enhances your theme. Subtle decorations, materials used to create your work, etc.
  • Don’t Forget! – Make sure you print out some business cards or mini fliers with your website, email, social media links, or however you can be reached. You never know who will stumble across your table – and you want to be easily found.