Tips for Taking Your Work to Art Shows

Over the years, I have taken my art to many venues, and in that time, I’ve learned to do so as efficiently as possible. Here is my current system.

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Before you make the work:

While you should make art in many sizes, the smaller the piece, the easier the transport. My work usually falls between 8×8” and 16×20” which lets me fit an entire solo show in a small car and lets my buyer take any one of my pieces home by subway or Uber (two common modes of transportation in the city). For shows in which I only have one or two artworks, I often take public transit.

After making the work:

Artist don’t mess around when it comes to striking (taking down), so the quicker you can pack and unpack the better. I wrap my larger pieces in bubble wrap (tape it and you can use it once or twice. Don’t tape it and you can use it forever) and place them in a 20×23” Ziplock bag with a handle. I can’t say enough about these bags, they can carry a lot of weight and they allow you (or the buyer) to pick up and leave super quick.

When transporting one or two small works, I employ a similar system, but for a larger show, I place several in a cardboard box with bubblewrapped cardboard dividers. This allows me to transport multiple pieces at once, and to take them in and out of the box without any additional wrapping. If I sell one, I can sandwich it between two dividers and tape it.

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My Planning Process in 5 Steps

While the making of my work consists of many steps and varies greatly from project to project, I do have a fairly simply planning process. Here it is in 5 easy steps.

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Step One

Take lots of pictures

Tools: SLR and iphone

Step Two

Review images, upload favorites to computer and print

Tools: Computer and printer

Step Three

Use black and metallic markers to highlight any spots on the printed image that will not show well through tracing paper. Trace out favorite elements.

Tools: Black and metallic markers, tracing paper, pencil, eraser and ruler (if need be)

Step Four

Rework, add and subtract lines from traced image while thinking about how they will fit/interact with other images in the overall design.

Tools: Pencil and eraser

Step Five

Photocopy images in a wide range of sizes (make three copies of each) then print them all as a mirror image. Cut images out and mix and match them with one another while altering line work as necessary. Arrive upon completed design.

Tools: Photocopier, scissors, pencil, eraser, glue stick and ruler

The Art of Controversy

Every so often, an artwork comes around and rankles the feathers of many in the non-art crowd (artists and art lovers not so much). Here are two pieces that did just that.

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ABOVE: Andres Serrano, Immersion (Piss Christ), 1987, chibachrome print, 60 x 40 inches

In 1987, Andres Serrano submerged a plastic crucifix in a jar of his own urine and took a picture of it. Predictably, people lost their shit, and in addition to death threats, the work was either attacked when shown, or barred from being shown at all. Thirty years since its creation, Piss Christ still provokes strong reactions from the public (most recently, a print was attacked and destroyed in 2011).

“Several weeks ago, I began to receive a number of letters, phone calls, and postcards from constituents throughout the Senate concerning art work by Andres Serrano. They express a feeling of shock, of outrage, and anger. They said, ‘how dare you spend our taxpayers’ money on this trash.’ This so-called piece of art is a deplorable, despicable display of vulgarity. This artist received $15,000 for his work from the National Endowment of the Arts. If this is what contemporary art has sunk to, this level, this outrage, this indignity – some may want to sanction that, and that is fine. But not with the use of taxpayers’ money. This is not a question of free speech. This is a question of abuse of taxpayers’ money. If we allow this group of so-called art experts to get away with this, to defame us and to use our money, well, then we do not deserve to be in office.” New York Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato

“I thought he was saying, in a rather simplistic, magazine-y type of way, that this is what we are doing to Christ, we are not treating him with reverence. His great sacrifice is not used. We live very vulgar lives. We put Christ in a bottle of urine – in practice. It was a very admonitory work. Not a great work; one wouldn’t want to go on looking at it once one had already seen it once. But I think to call it blasphemous is really rather begging the question: it could be, or it could not be. It is what you make of it, and I could make something that made me feel a deep desire to reverence the death of Christ more by this suggestion that this is what, in practice, the world is doing.” Sister Wendy Beckett

ABOVE: Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, paper collage, oil paint, polyester resin, map pins & elephant dung on linen, 95.9 x 72 inches

In 1996, Chris Ofili made a portrait of the Holy Virgin Mary that included pornographic imagery and real elephant dung. Although the painting had been displayed in London and Berlin without controversy, it caused a shit storm when it crossed the pond to be shown in New York City. Twice during the exhibition it was attacked but despite minor damage, it survives to this day. In 2015, Christie’s sold The Holy Virgin Mary for $4.6 million.

“Last time I checked, I’m the Mayor, and I don’t find closing down access to a public museum consistent with the use of taxpayer dollars,” Giuliani said. “People have an absolute right to express anything they want to express, but they do not have an absolute right to have that funded by the taxpayers.” New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

“It certainly is true that the level of prudery is much stronger in the United States than in Europe and that includes London. It’s louder, more vociferous and more fundamentalist.” Norman Rosenthal, director of the Royal Academy

Goals for 2017

Each and every year, I sit down and write a list of artistic goals for the next twelve months. This year’s list is going to take a lot of time and hard work to pull off.

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  • 2016 was a year of transition as I moved both office and home. Now settled, I need to refine my studio practice to best utilize a new (smaller) space. Organization is a must.
  • After spending most of 2016 planning a large body of work, it is time to buckle down and make it all. Should take most of the year – if I’m lucky.
  • Now debt free, I need to create an art budget and stick to it. At the same time, I need to become more efficient with my materials and cut waste.
  • In 2015, I had my first solo exhibition and showed a collection of works I had made through the years. In 2017, I would like to have my second solo exhibition and show a new body of work for the first time. Venue to be announced.