16 Tips: How to Show Art in a Café

Have you visited a business, like a coffee shop or bookstore, and seen local art hanging on the walls and thought, “How can I show my art in a café?”. Showing in alternative spaces to galleries is a great option for artist just starting out or not yet represented by a gallery. Hair salons, lawyers’ offices, and dentist’s offices may also be receptive to displaying art. People don’t necessarily go to these places to buy art, but networking throughout your community and gaining name recognition and relationships is a great way to get exposure. Art is more likely to sell better on display than hiding in your closet. So, get it out there!

Click here for our list of Businesses in Edmonton where you can show your art.

Rooster Kitchen at 10732 82 Ave Edmonton

Before you Start

1. Are you compatible? First, make sure your art fits in with the environment. You want the art and business to compliment each other, so be sure they’re compatible. Find a place where your desired customer frequents. Does this business attract your same clientele? If you do edgy, alternative prints, a place with the same kind of aesthetic will be better for your chances.

2. Ask who is the proper contact. Find out who’s in charge of the décor or art display. Sometimes this is the manager, but it may also be arranged by a third-party consultant.  Get their contact information and ask advice on the best time to reach them.

3. Develop your approach. Practice your phone pitch and draft an email inquiry. Tell them who you are, why you’d like to show, identify the common values between the both of you, and attach images of the work you are ready to hang. It is important to show a consistent theme or style so that you exhibition will feel professional. Keep this proposal short and sweet, you don’t want to overwhelm them with information.

Things to Negotiate

4. Exhibition times may vary from a couple of weeks to several months.

5. Red Dot or Sell on the Spot? Most business would prefer the artist handles the sales transaction. Consider whether it is convenient to switch new work for sold works or if a red dot sold sticker may be good marketing to encourage more sales.

6. Display at your own risk. Wear and tear, nicks in frames and even theft may happen despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions. Businesses have insurance to cover loss due to fire or flood. Artists should be aware that claims cover only the cost of the materials not the retail value of the art. Both artist and business should understand the risks.

7. Is there a commission? Will the business take a percentage of the sale? This will depend on the amount of work at their end. If they host openings, invite their mailing list, work to market your work and conduct the sales transaction, then they could ask for 10 – 30% commission.

8. Will they pay an exhibition or rental fee? Art enhances every space, and the artists marketing efforts may draw more customers to the space. You may ask for a set fee or cleverly negotiate a barter for service.

Rooster Kitchen at 10732 82 Ave Edmonton

Tips for Set Up

9. Measure and evaluate the display area.  Many places have limited wall space, so propose pieces that will fit attractively into the space. Ensure your work is framed and ready to hang with proper D-rings and wire. Discuss hanging methods to reduce the damage to the walls. Discuss lighting options.

10. Provide professional labels for your work. Name, title, size, price, and website or Instagram. The Paint Spot has written: Read Tips for Pricing Your Art

11. Install your show efficiently. When you come to install your work, arrive on time, make sure you have all the tools, be as compact and tidy as possible.

12. Make sure people can contact you. Leave business cards or postcards is good idea. Or keep clutter to a minimum by creating QR Code. Save it as a jpeg and put it on the art labels or a poster.

After the Art is on the Walls

13. Promote your show in all your social media. Be sure to mention, thank, and tag the business.  Do this several times during your exhibition.

14. Plan meet-ups to bring clients to see your art. Now that work is on display remember to take advantage of the opportunity and cement your relationship with the business.

15. Check in often. Owners and employees are busy which is why it is important that you are hands-on and look after your show. Ensure the signs and labels remain in good condition. Is the art hanging straight? Do business cards or postcard need to be replenished?  

16. Send thank you notes when your exhibition is over. Thank you notes are so rare that they are truly appreciated. A thank you and a tag in social media is just like a virtual hug.

Do you have tips or suggestions about this article? We would love to hear from you. Contact.


More Ideas for Where to Show Your Art

  • Places to Show Your Art in Edmonton
  • List of Art Walks in Alberta
  • Join an Art Club
  • How to use Social Media to Sell Art.

Kim Fjordbotten: As owner of The Paint Spot, Kim Fjordbotten is passionate about helping artists use materials and make art. She is available as a speaker and educator for teachers and art associations. The Paint Spot offers exhibitions, classes, and beautiful art materials to inspire your creativity.

Notice you are not bombarded with advertising while sourcing this information. Please help us by purchasing your art supplies from The Paint Spot. We really appreciate your business and it means we can keep making educational posts for free.  Thank you.

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