DIY Art Show: Worth It?

With NIA Fine Art Friday officially completed, I can sit back and relax before the next project comes along. I’m proud of the work we did, but I’m also reeling from the scope of it. We did as much as one group can possibly do for a DIY Show. From fundraising to sending out a press release, we went above and beyond what was probably necessary.

So the question is, are DIY Shows worth all the effort?Dean Johnson with his artwork 3

I should start by defining a DIY Show. It is do-it-yourself from top to bottom, put together by the artist or artists on a shoestring budget. There is no famous museum or gallery involved. No big arts organization is promoting it. There is no major advertising campaign, and the general public will never hear about it. Compared with bigger events, it will almost certainly come off as inelegant and unsophisticated.

The artists are amateur event planners, amateur promoters, and quite possibly amateur artists too, but they do what they can. The show takes place in a makeshift venue, possibly somebody’s apartment (as in the photo above). The guests are primarily the artists’ own friends and associates. It is more a social gathering than an important cultural event. Some people might buy art, but nobody is counting on it. People will mingle, have good conversations, and generally have a good time.

So what’s the point? There are several good reasons to have a DIY Show:

  • To create an art-centric experience for you and your guests
  • To show off your latest work
  • To give you something to do between bigger gigs
  • To give you new content for your social media and blog
  • To create opportunities to make money — no guarantees!
  • To gain helpful experience

The last point is perhaps the most important. A DIY Show gives you valuable practice, which you can apply whenever you get a bigger gig. Is your work going to appear in an art festival? A DIY Show gives you practice reaching out to your network of friends and fans. Did the owner of a retail space invite you to hang your work? A DIY Show gives you practice planning a visually strong and coherent display. Experience with DIY Shows makes you better equipped to manage bigger opportunities.

In other words, a DIY Show is totally worth the effort. You just have to understand the objectives (listed above) and have realistic expectations.

Remember, you are an artist. You can create something out of nothing. If you want to be in an art show, create the show!