One of the most important aspects of developing a solo show is coming up with a theme for your show. This will drive the entire process: your title, the pieces you choose, your press, your postcard and everything else surrounding your show - and most importantly: your chances of being accepted. Even if you have a large inventory of works with which to mount a show, if you do not have a cohesive theme that ties them together, chances are you will not be accepted via jury for an exhibition.
Choosing Your Theme: Talented artists are sometimes rejected when they apply for solo shows not because their work isn't good, but because they either didn't have - or did not articulate well - an idea that tied their work together. As mentioned in a previous blog on the "Why," it is important to approach a solo show with passion. If you are just picking random pieces out of storage or off of your studio wall and trying to force them into a theme, it will come through in your application. You want the jurors to see that you have a clear focus that you are creating works around, something that has meaning for you. Your theme can be pretty much anything, but it should have a clear point of view. If you have done a series of works on, say, Tuscany - you will need to come up with something interesting about that place that ties the work together, and for which you can come up with a catchy name for the show, You might want to think about a certain aspect of that area, such as all paintings of vineyards, landscapes of towns, or paintings of marketplaces. Even if your pieces do not all have the same subject matter, they need to look cohesive when hung, so a particular theme is important so that the show does not look disjointed.
The Title of Your Show: The title you choose will be the FIRST thing the jurors see, and you want to draw them in with it. Just calling your paintings of Italy "Italian Landscapes" isn't going to excite them. If, as mentioned above, your paintings of Tuscany that have different subject matter, you could present your work as a "journey" and call it "Viaggio: Traveling Through Tuscany." Viaggio is the Italian word for journey and has a nice ring to it, and "Traveling" and "Tuscany" have nice alliteration; the title also tells the viewer that they are going to be seeing different aspects of the country.
Selling Yourself as a Solo Artist: Now that you have your theme and title, you need to describe it well, to catch the interest of the jurors, who may actually read your description before viewing your work. You want them to be intrigued. Do not make your description too long, but be sure it is well thought-out. For instance:
You have now done the hard part, and are ready to throw your artist's hat in the ring and apply for a solo show - good luck!
For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website:http://www.galleryunderground.org/about/show-opportunities/.
Next in the Series: The WHO: Finding and Capturing Your Audience
Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.