Top 10 List | Creating Professional(!) Art & Photography Exhibitions | Part 1


Our Top 10 List:
Creating Professional(!) Art & Photography Exhibitions



photography exhibitions
Yeah, this could be YOUR show! Read on!



Check it out!—our Top 10 List of professional steps (and KEY HACKS!) to get YOUR work where it needs to be BEFORE / DURING / & AFTER whatever art or photography exhibitions you’re in, whether you’re exhibiting one piece—or a hundred!

Yup, I’ve been in the trenches on ALL sides of this equation, folks—as a professional gallery director / as an instructor of Gallery Management at the college level / & as an exhibiting artist—so no point in reinventing the wheel!

Here it all is—our condensed Top 10 List, broken down into a two-part series of fully-illustrated blogs, with tons of helpful links for further info and specific procedures. You’ll be a pro in no time!



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So, before we start (cuz I know you want to know!), just what is YOUR end result in all this?

Well, it’s a both a FINE EXHIBITION and a FINISHED, “READY-TO-SHOW-AROUND” PORTFOLIO to get you into that next show / to get that next big sale / perhaps even to get you that new job!

Yup, been there! So come along and see what’s what!



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OK, folks, so just HOW do ya transform THIS… (see pix above)

…into THIS!!! (see pix below)

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(Please click on each pix for more information.)



Well, it may SEEM like a monumental effort, but it’s NOT!!!

What’s more, YOU can do almost ALL of it YOURSELF*which will save you lots of $$$!

*and what you can’t do—or don’t know how to do—well, there’s NO NEED to reinvent the wheel, as we’ll help ya out. Read on!)

So, here’s our Top 10 List for getting your art & photography exhibitions looking just SPECTACULAR(!!!), with expanded explanations below:

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Just getting started…



Part 1 / Our Top 10 List: Creating Professional(!) Art & Photography Exhibitions

(You’re here now.)

          1.  Select your work for art & photography exhibitions / start making “NOISE” about it!

          2.  Select the BEST mat board color & thickness / measure your artwork / mount your stuff

          3.  Select the type & color of frame(s) that will best ENHANCE your work

          4.  Order mats / frames / & glazing (& interleaving / bags / boxes – see Part 2 of this blog series)

          5.  Assemble mats & frames


Part 2 / Our Top 10 List: Creating Professional(!) Art & Photography Exhibitions

(Please click here to get there.)

          6.  “Choreograph” the exhibition space (if ya can!)

          7.  Hang your work (perfect example of “not reinventing the wheel”)

          8.  Opening night! – dos & don’ts

          9.  Taking down the show at the end of the run / frame disassembly

        10.  Storing & reusing materials / assembling your portfolio (see pix below)



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…and one of the KEY end results!


OK, let’s get right to it….





1.  Select Your Work for Art & Photography Exhibitions /
     Start Making “Noise” About It!



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Dropping off your “portfolio,” right? Yeah, no.



So, the key to deciding WHAT you actually submit to any given show is ENTIRELY in YOUR OWN hands!

This, however, DOES NOT mean you’re alone!

Whether you have thousands of pieces of finished artwork or photographs (see pix above), or just a few, what you submit for possible inclusion in any art or photography exhibitions should really reflect your BEST WORK—what it is you want people to see.



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Yeah, student crits and outside portfolio reviews are NOT “mutual-pat-on-the-back” situations. Listen to what your instructors / peers / reviewers have to say about what you’re creating, even if it bursts your bubble here and there. Their input will serve you well as you decide which works to submit to shows, etc.



If you’re a student then pay close attention in critiques—listen to your instructors / your peers / and even those outside your department—and use that information to further your work and to get a sense of what is “successful.”

If you’re a working artist—in any media—then seek out fellow artists / take advantage of portfolio reviews / and spend some time really narrowing down what it is that you would like to exhibit.



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These are postcards for various exhibitions curated / organized by the author from back in the day, 30+ years ago. Getting your own show announcement postcards printed is easier (and cheaper!) than ever. Look around online, and spend an extra few bucks to make YOUR OWN “noise” about a show you’re in. Also KEEP a few copies of your show announcements (like I did here) cuz you’ll look back on them someday and be glad you did! (Please click on the image to see our pretty funny blog on organizing & preserving postcards.)



Once you have edited your work / submitted it through whatever jury process is set up (expect online submissions to be the most common) / and had your work(s) accepted, DON’T rely solely on the show organizers or venue to promote the exhibition!

Do whatever YOU can do to promote the show (without being obnoxious, of course) through social media / word of mouth / even old-school postcard mailings (see pix above). Hey, it may all take some time and might cost you a few bucks, but the whole point is to get your work SEEN!

KEY HACK: In ADDITION to sending these postcards or other announcements out to the “usual suspects”—mom / dad / Aunt Mildred / your girlfriend or boyfriend—send one to the people who you think SHOULD know you’re in any particular art & photography exhibitions, including bigwigs that might not (probably won’t, frankly) show up, but who you think should ABSOLUTELY KNOW about the exhibition anyway = sowing seeds for future name recognition! Can’t hurt, right? Go for it! The potential benefits FAR outweigh any potential costs!





2.  Select the BEST Mat Board Color & Thickness /
      Measure Your Artwork / Mount Your Stuff


Sure, folks, there are a zillion choices to be made regarding the size / color / thickness of the mat boards you may want to use for your art & photography exhibitions, but we’ve distilled ALL of the BEST TIPS and QUICK HACKS into easily understandable, step-by-step procedures!

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Yes folks, our Mat Board Sample Kit includes samples of ALL our 100% acid-free museum-quality mat board colors & thicknesses,
as well as examples of the types of archival backing boards you’ll want to use. The best part? It’s FREE (only $2 bucks for shipping)!
(Please click on either image for more information.)



Don’t know which color or thickness of mat board is JUST RIGHT for your work (see pix above)?

Well, then take a look at this fully-illustrated blog:


Matting / Part 2 / Choosing Mat Board Colors & Thickness

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Yup, ya don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to get PERFECTLY measured mats,
as our Custom Mat Cutting Template does ALL the math for ya!

(Please click on either image for more information.)



Measuring your stuff for whatever art or photography exhibitions you have coming up might seem like a challenge, but it’s actually fairly straight-forward.

Wanna see how? Then take a look at our fully-illustrated blogs on the subject here: 


Matting / Part 3 / Measurements & Cropping


Matting / Part 4 / “Centered” & “Weighted” Mats

Yup, whether you need a single custom-cut mat, a few standard-sized all-in-one precut mat kits, oval or round mats, multi-opening window mats, or dozens (or even hundreds!) of pre-cut bulk mats, you can have it ALL—delivered right to your door and ready for your artwork & photographs!

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Photographs / artwork / you name it – if it can be matted & framed, we can show you how to archivally mount it!
(Please click on any image for more information.)



Once you have your mats in hand, it’s time to mount your stuff (see pix above).

Again, we’ve got a fully-illustrated blog on JUST HOW TO DO THAT!

Check it out:


Your Professional Portfolio / Part 2 / Mounting Your Artwork


BOOM! On to the next step….





 3.  Select the Type & Color of Frame(s) That Will Best Enhance Your Work



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(Yup, folks, you know the drill, please click on any image for more information.)



Wood frames? Metal frames? Frame profiles? Color & finishes? Standard sized? Custom sized?

Yeah, just like the process of MAKING your art & photographs, the choices you make in PRESENTING your stuff in art & photography exhibitions may seem endless.

To help ya figure out the BEST and MOST ECONOMICAL frames that will ENHANCE your work, we’ve created—you guessed it—a few blogs & videos on frames that will help you make your choice, so check ’em out here:


Archival Solution of the Week / Gallery 12 Wood Frames


How to Assemble a Complete Metal Frame Kit Video


Not only that, but ALL of our museum-quality frames and frame kits are EASY TO ASSEMBLE & COMPLETELY REUSABLE (see step 9 & 10 in Part 2!).

‘Nuff said.





 4.  Order Mats / Frames / Glazing
       (& Interleaving / Bags / Boxes – see Part 2 of this blog)



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Ordering over the phone or online is a breeze.
Got a question? Give us a call or shoot us an email.

Operators are standing by!
(Please click on each image for more information.)



Once you’ve decided on your mat board color & thickness / your window mat choices & measurements / backing board choices / frame styles and colors, give us a call or order online.



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(Please click on each image for more information.)



While you’re at it, think a bit ahead and figure out what 100% archival / acid-free STORAGE and PORTFOLIO materials you might need AFTER your art & photography exhibitions come down (see pix above – more info on AFTER the show comes down in Part 2 of this blog series).



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A real live customer opening a real live box of real live archival mats & frames for the real live show he’s gonna be in. Really! Across the street or around the world, we’ll make sure YOUR materials arrive in PERFECT condition. (Please click on the image for more information.)



We’ll EXPERTLY pack your stuff (hey, we ship TONS of archival stuff to major museums / galleries / artists all over the world, so we KNOW HOW to pack stuff RIGHT!) and send it right to your doorstep.

OK, that was easy!





5.  Assemble Mats & Frames



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Got a number of pieces in that big show? Consider “mass production” (left to right) by:
1.) partially assembling ALL your frames and placing them off to the side

2.) add your matted artwork and glazing (one at a time, of course), finish assembly, then wire ’em up

(Please click on any image for more information.)


Yeah, assembling your matted artwork or photographs into a frame is a simple “by the numbers” sort of deal, folks:



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1. Assemble your metal frames (it’s easy!), or open the back of your Gallery 12 Wood Frames (see pix above, and click on them for more info). 


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Clean glass / Acrylite glazing (use our special kit) / frames / etc. on a table AWAY from your artwork to prevent overspray from glass cleaners and such from getting on your work or on your mats. (Please click on the image for more information.)


2. Clean or prep your glazing (the glass or OP-3 Acrylite UV light-protecting plastic sheeting you’re using).
     Do this AWAY from your art so it doesn’t get hit with liquid glass cleaner, etc. (see pix above).


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3. Make a “sandwich” of a.) the backing board;  b.) your matted image;  c.) the glazing
     (see pix above for how this looks in our Gallery 12 Wood Frames).
     KEY HACK: Check for dust and fingerprints on the INSIDE of the glazing BEFORE inserting in your frame.

 Place the “sandwich” in the frame.


5. Check again for dust & fingerprints on the INSIDE of the glazing / on the mat / on the artwork (the outside you can clean later!)


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Loop your picture wire through the hole in the hanger TWICE, then wrap it around itself for a secure attachment. (Please click on the image for more information.)


6. Finish frame assembly / add picture wire (see pix above, which shows this being done on a metal frame) / check ONE MORE TIME for dust & fingerprints on the INSIDE of the glazing.


BOOM! You’re on to Part 2 of this two-part blog (click here to get there)!





So, there ya have it, folks. You’re halfway there!

Just follow the list above, and the second short list in Part 2 (click here to go directly there), and at the end of the day you’ve accomplished a bunch of stuff—most of which you’ve done yourself (& saved a ton of $$$ by doing so!)—including:


      Your work in art & photography exhibitions looks PROFESSIONALLY (& archivally!!!) matted & framed

      Your art & photography is presented in ways that GREATLY ENHANCE the work

      Your newly-matted work is now the basis of your portfolio for FUTURE EXHIBITIONS & OPPORTUNITIES!


See you in Part 2!





Contact Us

If you have any additional questions on getting ready for any art & photography exhibitions you’re going to be part of, or would you like more information on any of our museum-quality archival storage and presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.

We would also like to encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and our large selection of informative and crisply-illustrated (and often humorous!) blogs for up-to-the-minute information, Archival Solutions of the Week (take a look at this archive for more info!), and stories of interest. Likewise, our exclusive short videos illustrate many of the archival products and procedures that you may wish to “see in action,” so please take a look!

Lastly, we would like to encourage you to click here to sign up for weekly emails alerting you to our Archival Solution of the Week blogs! It’s easy & fast, and usually saves you 15%!