Friday, December 16, 2016

6th in a Series on The Solo Show - THE HOW, Part 1 (Killing it on Social Media)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the sixth in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.

THE HOW, Part 1 - Killing it on Social Media

Let's just put it right out there - by the time your opening reception rolls around, you should be absolutely sick of yourself. Sick of hearing yourself say the words "my solo show," sick of talking about it, mailing, emailing, texting and posting about it. Because only then will you know that you have done everything possible to get bodies to your show; both the opening and - for those who can't make your opening - the show during its run. It is imperative that by the date of your opening, there is no one in (or out of) your orbit who can truly say they didn't know you were having a solo show. This is accomplished on several fronts, and with a timeline. One of the most effective fronts is Social Media.

Below is a marketing timeline. At each of these points you should hit up the following, at a minimumFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blog.

1. When you are accepted by a venue for a solo show: Now is the time to announce your exciting news. Be sure you have the TITLE established before you post and email. And even better, have at least one work finished and photographed. It should be mentioned here that it is very important to have your pieces professionally photographed as you go along, so you will have beautiful things to post. The last thing you want is to have out of focus photos with bad color and lighting. You want to have the best representation of yourself, so invest in hiring a professional photographer experienced in photographing art. A bonus is that you can use these images later to enter your work in juried shows.

Your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts should be short but should convey your excitement. Start with "Exciting news!!" Then say that you have been accepted for a solo show of (medium) at (venue) for (month/year) and then the title. Attach a photo of a piece you plan to put in the show. You may want to create a hashtag with the title of your show. And with Twitter and Instagram, be sure to use hashtags such as #soloshow #soloartshow #artshow and hashtag your medium and subject matter (for more on tweeting, read this blog post:

If you have an art blog, now is the time to blog about your exciting news! Expand on how you developed your concept and what your contacts can expect to see when they come to the show.

2. As you are working on your pieces: Periodically give teasers on what you are working on; if you don't want to show the whole painting (some people like to keep the work a "surprise" for the opening), you can show just a portion of the painting, as in this Instagram post:

The most important thing is to be constantly posting so that your audience will be reminded of the upcoming show. Your blog posts should touch on subjects such as how the work is progressing, humorous anecdotes about the process, planning for your reception -- anything that keeps your upcoming solo show in peoples' minds and - most importantly - intrigues them to want to come to the show!

3. In the last few weeks leading up to the show: Here is when you want to do your big push on social media, posting constantly. One important aspect of your show is obviously going to be your postcard (a future post will address the postcard.) When your postcards arrive, immediately post a photo of your hand holding one - this is a great way to draw attention to the upcoming show. The caption can be "It's actually happening!" or "Look what just arrived!!" In addition, as the date of the opening draws near, post photos of yourself at work, and it's always a good idea to catch the viewers' attention by adding text to the photograph, such as below - a quick way to remind your contacts of the date of the opening. This Facebook post said "Tick Tock - solo show fast approaching!" Don't have photoshop? No problem. The free online tool PicMonkey is very easy to use and you can do a lot of the basics of photoshopping.

4. The day you hang and the day of the reception: When you are hanging your show, have someone take photographs of the process or - better yet - take a video of you hanging the show. This really ramps up interest in your show. These photos and videos can be posted on all forms of social media. The day of, post a photo of any signage at or near your show. Did someone send you congratulatory flowers? Post a photo with a thank you. If you are able, during your reception, live tweet and instagram photos of the event.

5.  After the show opens: Be sure to post photos of works that have sold - this will ramp up interest in your show and remind people that it is still going on. And by all means post photos of all the people at your reception and tag them - so that these photos show up on their social media platforms and their contacts can see them!

6. When the show comes down: Just because your show is coming down does not mean you can't post about it - write a blog post about the experience; post photos of all the works that sold; indicate you are available for commissions.

Hopefully you will find that folks will mention when they see you that they are excited about your show and have been following your progress on social media! To reach those who are not on social media, stay tuned for the next post in this series.

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website: 

Next in the series: THE HOW, Part 2 - Reaching Those Elusive Non-Social Media Types

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.

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