Art Marketing – The Gallery Experience

Creatives and Business Gallery

People will see your work In a physical gallery or Online – Make sure it is a great experience!

One of the exercises I conduct with my Artrepreneurship students at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver is to brainstorm on what makes a great gallery experience.  Many artists show and sell their work in an physical gallery, many have only an online presence and many have both.  No matter whether your work is displayed in a physical location or in the virtual world, a great gallery experience matters.

A Great Brand Experience Makes You Stand Out From The Competition

When you show your work, one of your highest priorities should be to create a great experience for those who attend your opening and view your work. If you only have an online presence you will need to be creative in providing your viewer with a great experience.  The thing that makes great brands or companies stand out from their competition is providing a great experience that their audience remembers and talks about. A great experience encompasses many things such as:

  • Having a great product or service
  • Using the product or service is fun, educational, enlightening and functional
  • Being able to understand the product and its benefits
  • The product’s design, features and esthetics
  • The product’s packaging
  • Meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations
  • Touching as many senses such as touch, smell, sight, and hearing
  • Great customer service and a desire to come back and tell their friends

Brainstorming Ideas

Artrepreneurship students brainstorm and build a "Mind Map" on what it takes to create "A Great Gallery Experience"

Artrepreneurship students brainstorm and build a “Mind Map” on what it takes to create “A Great Gallery Experience”

Ok, here are some of the ideas that my Artrepreneurship students came up with in their brainstorming session. They are in no particular order and hopefully they will get your creative juices flowing on how to create a great gallery experience.  I have also included a “Mind Map” of what the latest class came up with.

  1. Hold gallery show in conjunction with community event
  2. Sponsor a fundraiser
  3. Have music or a concert
  4. Engage all of the senses
  5. Use colors in an effective manner
  6. Proper lighting
  7. Creative food and drink
  8. Laser lighting
  9. 3-D glasses
  10. Live trapeze artist
  11. Sex sells
  12. Give things away for free or don’t give things away for free
  13. Have a location that is a cool place to be
  14. Have a location that is a destination and convenient
  15. Have great price points
  16. Have gallery guests greeted in a friendly manner
  17. Have gallery staff that can explain the work on display
  18. Have gallery staff that is friendly and personable
  19. Encourage audience participation
  20. Have artist available and prepared to talk about themselves and the work
  21. Make it easy and convenient to contact the artist
  22. Have unique art offerings
  23. Make the gallery show a positive experience
  24. Show only the best work
  25. Make the experience interactive
  26. Show artist(s) at work
  27. Hold classes in conjunction with the show
  28. Bring in community celebrities
  29. Bring in guest artists
  30. Do a promotion such as purchase an art piece and get … for free
  31. Offer free consultation or hanging with the purchase of a piece
  32. Have works at various price points so that people will not walk out empty handed
  33. Use QR codes to identify the works and make it easy for visitor to contact you
  34. Make sure the price for a piece is easy to find
  35. Follow up on names and email addresses collected
  36. Create a fun experience
  37. Create an educational experience
  38. Have a contest or game
  39. Incorporate social media and/or mobile marketing
  40. Do a live web feed

OK, now you have some ideas on how to create a great gallery experience.  If you only have an online presence you can still use some of these ideas – try to think outside the box! If you have some ideas of your own please share them in the comments section.

Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto


2 thoughts on “Art Marketing – The Gallery Experience

  1. Max Cohen

    Hello Neil!
    Your list is perfect! If I could choose one… having a great product is the solution for all kind of business.

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