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Hosting Your Own "One Person Show"

by Daniel J. Keys on 10/8/2009 9:21:20 AM

This Post is by Daniel J. Keys, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Having been recently asked to do a two-man show at my gallery in Texas next year, I find myself in the extraordinary position of needing to create and put together what I hope will be a compilation of my best work yet.

This is what I've been waiting for: The opportunity to show my work in an environment of serious collectors looking for quality pieces of art to invest in.

It's been a good year and I thank God for that. However, not everyone needs a prestigious gallery to show their work and make the sales they'd like to. If you're selling on your own and have been doing group shows such as outdoor art festivals, but are tired of the high costs and having to filter through those who are serious collectors interested in your type of work and those who are just using up your energy, it may be time to consider hosting your own one-person event.

My artist friends and I often did small group shows on our own properties. We had fantastic success making sales and building up our local collector relationships.

A personal art affair that showcases your recent work in a home, studio, or restaurant is a great way to make personal contact with potential collectors and eliminates practically all of the expenses that you'd have to pay to participate in an established art fair or gallery show.

When you host a one-person show, you also have the guarantee that those in attendance are interested in you and your type of work.

Below are some ideas and questions to ask while getting started with your own event.


Autumn is a great time to do this but so is Spring. Basically, anytime of the year that promises good weather ? especially if it's going to be out of doors ? is your best bet for a good turnout. People don't like buying when it's too hot or too cold out. Comfort is the key.


Hosting an "Open Studio" works well if you have enough space for it, but a home or the banquet room of a restaurant works just as well for an art show.

Note: You'll want guests to feel at ease while viewing your work, so keep that in mind as you decide on the venue that suits your show's needs.

What Time?

Will it be an all day thing? Or just an evening reception? Chose an amount of time that suits the date and the event's environment.

If it's going to take place outside over the weekend, beginning in the morning and continuing on into the afternoon works well for most artists and their guests.

If it's a weeknight that you're set on, allow at least two and a half to three hours for the event to run its full course.

Food and Wine are a Big Plus

Hungry people rarely buy anything, so have some simple hors d'oeuvres ready and neatly presented for the duration of your function.

I don't drink, but wine has become a very popular companion to art at these kinds of events. Whatever you can use to help collectors be attracted to your show is worth considering.

Use Music to Set the Tone

If you can hire a musician or small group, do it: Live music is another draw to these sorts of events.


I and my friends used to do an hourly drawing for free products at our art shows.  It made for a great way to get everyone involved.

Put together some small inexpensive things of yours, such as matted prints of your work, and have a drawing where the winner must be present to win - this is also a way of keeping clients hanging around even longer.

Be Prepared

Whether you opt for a more formal evening of art and wine or just a casual show, have plenty of business cards, post cards, and brochures with your name and information clearly printed on them ready to hand out as potential collectors walk through.

Also have your bio out on display. If possible, make copies of it that clients can take with them. I had stacks of these at all of my art shows. I  almost always ran out before the event was over. Collectors often want to get to know you better before making a serious investment.

Developing a Mailing List

Have guests sign a guest list as they walk through your exhibit and keep all of their contact information on file. Add this information to you mailing list and include theses new potential clients when sending out invitation to your next show.

The Rewards

Putting some time and effort into your own personal show can really pay off.  Don't rush it. Just take your time to plan and put together something that your quests will enjoy and you'll be proud of.

An added plus: Hosting your own private show will give you opportunity to put all of the marketing skills learned from reading FAV's to work! Have fun! :)


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Related Posts:

New Venues to Sell Your Art

Diversifying Marketing Strategies

Engaging In Conversation

What's the Lifetime Value of a Single Contact?

Cultivating Collectors Face to Face

Topics: art marketing | Daniel J. Keys 

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Loading comments...

Lori Woodward Simons
Daniel... am energized by this post. The part about having a drawing of free stuff is a great idea.

Ruth Housley
Thanks Daniel,

This is some really good information for having a one-person show. I have thought about this a time or two but have not really set out to do it.
But with your information, I will think more serious about it now.

Nita Harper
Your article about hosting your own one-man show is right on! In this economy, it's also a great idea to host a show and donate a percentage to benefit your favorite charity. Charitible donations are down approximately 60 percent. It's a win-win situation for both parties.

Al Johannessen
Great article.This is something I have been thinking about doing.After reading your article I think this would be a fun thing to do.Never having done this, I need all the advise I can get.


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