Tips & Tutorials: How to set up your own ‘Open Submission’ exhibition

Tips & Tutorials: How to set up your own ‘Open Submission’ exhibition

Over the last few years we have hosted a number of design and creative arts exhibitions at New Community in London. Some featured the work of one or two key creatives, others that we opened up to anyone all over the country to enter. These open submission exhibitions featured the work of over 40 artists, representing different disciplines.

Thinking of running something similar? Here are a few things we have learnt about running an open submission exhibition:

1. Promotion

When marketing an open submission exhibition you need to push two lines of promotion. One to get word out to the creative community offering them the opportunity to submit an entry, and then secondly to promote the exhibition itself. Generally, creatives are looking actively for opportunities to exhibit their work, but you need to give them enough time. For an exhibition in December, we would try and get submission information out at the beginning of September. Sites like Central Station, Creative Review and Creative Boom are good for getting word out to creatives about open submission exhibitions.

Promote the exhibition itself through press releases to anyone and everyone. Don’t rely on blind emails, get on the phone.

2. Hire a photographer

Your exhibition lives on, even after its taken down. Offering press packs after the event of hi-res images from the opening night makes it easier for blogs and reviewers to write about your show. Make sure you are easily available for interview through any channel necessary. Exhibitors also really appreciate strong images of their work as part of the exhibition for their portfolios. Being able to share some with them is a nice way of thanking them for being part of the exhibition.

3. Allow extra time to set up

Clearing the space, setting up (or painting) boards takes a lot of time. Get a team involved and give yourself plenty of time to hang the work. Be ready with a number of different implements to hang with. Each piece of work is different and will require some thought.

4. Positioning/Hanging Work

The positioning and layout of work can be quite a personal thing for an artist. How the work sits on a white space or wall can have a big affect on the work itself. Organise time slots with each artist to come over and see the hanging of their work.

5. Offer Something

If you are encouraging a number of creatives to enter, offering some incentive other than just ‘exhibiting experience’ can be helpful to get people excited about your show. In the past we have offered three year subscriptions to leading creative culture magazines like Eye Magazine and even created and presented our first Design Award to one selected submission.

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