It’s almost that time of year again where thousands of students prepare to leave university and the arts calendar is full of student events! It’s an exciting time, full of creative potential for the next generation of arts practitioners. We’ve compiled our top tips to make sure that this period runs smoothly, and you have the most stress-free experience showing your work to the world…
Don’t be shy to ask questions! We know that producing your work can be intimidating, but you have access to experts, so it’s worthwhile using the experience of printing your work to find out the answers to questions you may have on the production processes. Even if you’re not yet in the position to produce your work, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself by seeing the possibilities available for the later stages of your work – you might see things you hadn’t considered previously or didn’t know were possible (printing direct to substrates, for example, or producing mural supersize wallpapers). The production of the piece can make such a difference to the way it is situated and the effect it has on the viewer – and that’s worth exploring early. It’s also worth finding out the production times for the processes you want to use – factor these in! Far too often we’ve met students who have left printing to the last minute and – while we will always do our best to meet tight deadlines – there’s only so much we can do!
Visit the space your exhibition will be held in, if possible, several times. You need to get a feel for the space and while you may not know where your work will be situated, this can give you invaluable insight into how the works may interact together in the space and the effect of internal lighting and daylight on your work. Can you drill into the walls or ceiling? Ask questions! Think about how you’ll hang your work far in advance and see what the possibilities are. It’s also important to remember that the floor in the room that you’re installing is not always level – make sure to check any measurements with a spirit level!
It’s not glamorous, but health and safety can impact how you show your work. If you’re thinking about using materials which are hazardous in nature there can be some restrictions, and electrical equipment will need to be PAT tested (usually only if it’s over one year old – keep your receipts!). It’s worth finding out the restrictions that may be in place from your college or university early, so you can get the best out of your work. Pay attention to fire escapes and where the signs for these may be – this might impede on the space you’re installing in.
Think about your artists statement – nobody wants to read hundreds of words for every image on the wall, especially on the night of a private view. Your artists statement, if included, should be concise and relevant. Think about the reasons why you’re writing the statement in the first place, a good litmus test is to ask yourself “do these images need this?” – sometimes text is necessary, but most of the time the images should be able to hold themselves without a hefty statement.
Ask questions! Utilise your resources.
Think about production as early as possible
Find out turnaround times and bear this in mind when you’re working out timelines for your work
Explore possibilities for production (early!)
Visit your exhibition space and get a feel for the space that is available
Check hanging limitations with the space you’re exhibiting in
Double check measurements with a spirit level – the floor may not be even
Keep your receipts for any electricals! Don’t forget about PAT testing
Check where Fire escapes are and how the signs might distract from your work
Consider your artists statement carefully