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Organizing an Art Show. 5 Tips You Need to Know

Dilly Vase by Robin Hardy

Dilly Vase by Robin Hardy

“From Within’ is the first art show of its kind in The Bahamas.  The show featured three woodturners (Robin Hardy, Jeremy Delancy and David McGorran)  who not only highlighted their skills but also the beauty of wood as a medium.   I came up with the idea of having the show in November of 2013 and seeing it to fruition has been  quite the learning process.  For anyone planning an art show, here are some tips that I picked up along the way.

1. Plan Ahead . . . .  Way Ahead

Don’t freak yourself out by trying to do everything at the last minute. Answer these basic questions early on and your life will be easier.

A.  Who are you planning to invite?  I go into more detail on this later in this post.

 B.  Where – Choose your venue.  Take into consideration,location, hours of operation, and management of the space you are intending to use.

C.  When –  Are there other major social events scheduled for the same time as your opening? What time of year?  I know that in The Bahamas almost everyone is broke and tired after the Christmas madness, so I’d try to avoid planning anything for January.


2. The Better Your Connections, The Better Your Show.

So, who are you planning to invite?  It’s quite easy for a budding artist to fall into the trap of only inviting family and friends.  These are the people of the social circle that he/she feels most comfortable with.  The problem of course is that these people can also feel so comfortable that they won’t pay for the art on display.

For this art show I wrote an invitation to known art collectors, had it edited by David and Robin, and then the gallery owner, Pamela Burnside.  Finally we added some pictures of the artwork to the letters and where possible had them hand delivered.  The total time spent on this process was about four hours but it yielded a major sale on the first day of the exhibition.

I did not have a personal connection with any of the art collectors but of course Pamela did.   I’ve often wondered how galleries justified 50 to 100 percent markups on an artist’s work.  Well, now I know.  A good gallery owner knows how to get people with money to look at your art, when they are most likely to come and what they are most likely to buy.  They should be able  to guide you through the process of putting the show together.  Therefore, if you can’t work closely and cordially with the space’s management, find another venue.

3. “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne” Chaucer

I’ve written before about Productivity.  If you are interested you can read my thoughts here and here.  Now I can add to that knowledge with something I learnt the hard way.

DO NOT TRY TO LEARN A TOTALLY NEW SKILL WITHIN ONE TO THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE SHOW.  I tried this and found that I was breaking and repairing things faster than I was completing them.  Don’t make the same mistake, because:

a.  You will not master the skill in time.

b.   It will show in your work.

c.  You won’t be fully focused on what you’re best at.

Here is a video that explains why serious artists go through ‘periods’ which is directly related to the point I’m trying to make.


4. Volume not Perfection, Speed not Direction

When you do attempt to learn a new skill, don’t assume that each attempt has to be perfect.  If you practice enough, you will be able to critique your own work as you go along.  If instead you try to make only one or two ‘perfect’ items you won’t incorporate the nuances of the skill and you are more likely to quit.  It’s late and I’m tired, watch this video for a better explanation.

5. Attitude

The feeling an artist is most likely to feel after a show is. . . .disappointment.  Disappointment might be too strong a word but there is a let down even after a ‘successful’ show. So, if you were expecting Fame, Money and groupies, Good Times after your first show, don’t hold your breath.  The rule of thumb is, it  takes ten years to become an overnight success. One disappointing show does not make you a failure, and one successful show does not make you a great artist.  In all things, Equanimity. This may be the hardest skill for an artist to master but it will serve you best.


Here are some pictures:


by David McGorran

by David McGorran

Pamela Burnside

Pamela Burnside


Robin Hardy, David McGorran and Jeremy Delancy

Robin Hardy, David McGorran and Jeremy Delancy.  Yes, I am smiling!

Feel free to leave a question or a comment!

How To Start An Art Collection Without Going Broke

Hyperrealistic Drawing of hands

As you get older, richer and hopefully wiser, you realize that there is a need for a little ‘culture’ in your life.   It’s time to move into adulthood with ‘serious’ art work.  But, how do you do it without breaking the bank?  This is a guest post by Kim Smith, who is an internationally recognized pencil artist best known for his hyper-realistic images of the natural environment and historical architecture.  Since moving from Canada to The Bahamas more than 30 years ago, Smith has made the “up close and personal ” pictures of Bahamian scenes his signature style.  Here he walks us through how to get started as a serious art collector at an affordable price.

Take it away Kim.


Getting Started

     In a depressed economic climate, many people who love art and want to begin collecting are often intimidated by the prices of original art exhibited by local artists.   Without “breaking the bank” it is still possible to build an affordable art collection.

     Collecting Limited Edition prints is something that is enjoyed by people all over the world. Some collect for the pleasure of owning an exclusive piece of art while others collect for the potential  profit that they could make in the years to come. Collecting art should become an evolutionary process. By starting your art collection with limited edition prints you will find that your preferences for, and knowledge of  art will grow to the point where you will be able to afford original artwork and expand your collection.

Why Prints and Are They ‘Real’ Art?

     Limited Edition prints ensure both the quality and essence of the artist’s work and are only one level below original art, allowing novice art collectors to acquire quality art at more affordable prices. The two most common processes of printing limited edition

Hyperrealistic Drawing of hands

Hyperrealistic Drawing – Miss Emily’s Eleven String

prints are offset lithography and giclee. The results are very similar and any artist with integrity will only issue limited edition prints that are true to the original art work in terms of colour, detail, and sharpness. Each print in the edition is inspected by the artist and  then individually hand signed and numbered by the artist, typically in pencil, in the form (e.g.): 14/100. The first number/top number is the number of the print itself. The second number/bottom number is the number of overall prints the artist will issue of that image. The lower the second/bottom number is, the fewer amount of prints are issued, making these smaller editions more valuable and collectible.

What To Look For In A Print

     When purchasing limited edition art work, look for richness, clarity and archival qualities. Advanced printing techniques with fade resistant inks on archival quality paper will ensure that limited edition prints should survive for at least 70 years.  A Certificate of Authenticity should always come with the limited edition print.

     To protect your limited edition art you should always ensure that the art is framed using acid free materials, preferably conservation mounting and some type of UV protected glass. Depending on what framing shop you use, you may need to ask for these items specifically.  Some stores will just put your print on whatever paper is at hand.  This will destroy the print in time. While you are at, never hang your art in direct sunlight or illuminate your art with floodlights or a spotlight.

Bahamian Artists Online

Only a small number of artists in The Bahamas produce limited edition prints. myself, Max Taylor, Thierry Lamare, Marjolein Scott, Malcolm Rae, Nicole Minnis-Ferguson, and Roshanne Minnis-Eyma are just some of the professional artists who issue limited edition prints.


The key to beginning your art collection is to start small and choose art that is right for you. Try to select art images that make you

Triton Shell - Hyper-realistic Drawing. Coloured Pencils on Paper.

Triton Shell – Hyper-realistic Drawing. Coloured Pencils on Paper.

go “wow” and images that you will love and can live with for a long time.


To learn more about hyperrealism, art in The Bahamas, or improving your own drawing skills, visit




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Ellen and the wall of lists

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Photo Credit: Ben Heine via Compfight cc

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