Where Can I Show My Art?

There are clear signs you’re ready to unleash your art on the world

When your space is overrun by art, it’s hard to create. Clearly, it’s time to unleash your art and share it with the world. In sum, we’ll explore a few of the best places to show your art in Edmonton and begin your journey to being a showing artist.

If you have been creating art for some time, it’s not surprising that storage has become tricky. Flat work can be kept in a portfolio tucked under the bed, in a closet, or behind the couch. Canvas and panels, however, take up more space. A spare room is an expensive storage option (even at our parent’s houses). Alternatively, storing art in a basement risks water damage, and art in the garage is at risk for theft or vandalism. By the same token, you can loan art to family and friends to hang in their homes or offices. Or, you can donate art to reduce storage and clutter.

Since many of us have small working spaces, an art show might be the first time we reap the reward of seeing our art displayed with purposeful placement and lighting. Feedback and applause may be the affirmation you need to keep working.

Let’s get ready to show and sell some art!

Not all works of art need to be for sale

Before we delve into tips on where and how to show your art, understand that not all the pieces you include need to be for sale. Some works of art belong to a stream of consciousness or exploration and belong in a show, others, however, are meant to stay with the artist forever. Pivotal works, memorial, or favourite pieces can be kept by the artist. But how much art can we keep and when is it time to cull?

Is my art sellable?

At some point, every artist asks, “Can I sell my art?” The simple answer is: Yes! Art sells all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re self-taught or academically trained, art will sell if the buyer likes it and can afford it. It can be bittersweet to sell your favourite piece, but hopefully, you’ll earn money for art supplies, and clear out some valuable creation space. The boost of encouragement you experience when selling your art can’t be underestimated and you will be inspired to make more art.

As you prepare your art for showing you’ll need to be ready for the question, “How much is this?” We have a tip sheet to help you set prices.

How to Price Your Art
Read tips for Pricing Your Art

10 Suggestions for where you can show your Art

1. Show your art at The Paint Spot.

Naess Gallery is a small exhibition space within The Paint Spot. Our goal is to offer small spaces for artists to share work with other artists. We choose art that is unusual, either in subject matter, or innovative use of materials. We collect contact information and images from artists throughout the year, then in August, we set the gallery schedule for the next calendar year, providing enough time for artists to create new work. Gallery artists have video interviews featured on our YouTube channel and blog posts highlighting their show. Of course, we encourage artists to feature these interviews on their own websites.

Not ready for a show all on your own? No problem, because we host group shows at the Naess Gallery as well. Watch for our Big, Big 12×12’ art shows. Artists at any level of experience are invited to create a painting based on a theme. Examples are Big, Big Portrait Show, Big, Big Pet Portrait Show, and #LivingFigureDrawingChallenge. The next opportunity will be “Pop! The 12×12 Show“, so stay tuned.

Show your art at The Paint Spot
The ‘Big,Big Portrait Show!’ in the Naess Gallery at The Paint Spot

2. Share your art in a virtual show.

It requires practice and patience to learn new technical skills, but the effort will provide visual assets that have a longer shelf-life and reach a larger audience.

  • An online art exhibition might be an art album on your Facebook page or images uploaded to your Instagram account.
  • Go live on Facebook or TikTok to share your process and show your art.
  • Host a virtual event on Zoom to share images and talk about your work.
  • Record these online events to create collateral you can post on YouTube and embed within your website.

3. Host your own art show.

These ideas are cost-effective and relatively easy; just pick a date and tell everyone.

  • Host an open studio – Pull out your art, and hang it throughout your home, (or create a gallery in your garage space), then invite your friends and colleagues to come over to see your work.
  • Plan a garden party – If you have a fence, you can hang art directly on it, then invite some friends over for a viewing. I love this one because it works. A friend from university paid the bulk of her student loan from one art show at her mom’s house. Friends and family really do want to support you. Plus, you know your art is going to a good home.
  • Pop-Up Shows – Your art display may be a welcome addition to a community yard sale or church craft market, so why not take your art to where people are already shopping?

4. Join an art club to enter group art exhibitions.

If the thought of doing a show all by yourself seems overwhelming, it might make sense to join a local art club, where you will meet experienced artists, learn from each other, and share the workload when creating events. Most clubs book exhibitions annually, inviting their members to bring one or two pieces of art. Artists work together to create large, impressive shows to attract visitors and patrons. Often there are awards, prizes, and bragging rights associated with these exhibitions. Here is a list of a few art clubs and societies in Edmonton, Calgary, and throughout Alberta.

Edmonton Art Club
Art Society of Strathcona County
The Alberta Arts Society of Artists
CARFAC Alberta
Alberta Printmakers
The Bows
Alberta Craft Council
Pastel Artists Canada
Peace of Art Club
SNAP  The Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists
Quickdraw Animation Society
Federation of Canadian Artists
Calgary Chapter
Edmonton Chapter
Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts
Lethbridge Artists Club
Leduc Art Club

5. Show your art in cafes, diners, and other business

Showing your art at existing businesses is a popular choice because it is low-cost, relatively easy to do, and benefits the business, its patrons, and the artist. Here are two resources 16 Tips for How to Show Your Art in a Business and a List of  Cafes & Diners in Edmonton that Show Art.

6. Show your art at malls, greenhouses, and golf clubs.  

Seasonal businesses often seek art shows to animate underutilized spaces during the off-season, sometimes organized by an art club, or other eager facilitators eager to help. Amongst other novel ideas, I have heard of car dealerships and realtors hosting art shows to attract clients, and a proposal by an audio-visual store to broadcast artists’ work for sale on large flat-screen TVs during a black-tie sales event.

These spaces and opportunities change frequently and are usually discovered by word-of-mouth; another reason to join an art club or network with other artists at events.

7. Show your art at markets.

Artisan and maker markets are popular and attract a desirable demographic, presenting a great opportunity to take your art to a venue where people are interested and already shopping for local art and handmade items. As with any tradeshow, you pay to be there and invest the time to work your booth. While it can be a lot of work, it’s also a pleasant experience spending time working alongside other artists and makers.

Potential customers will have a diverse cross-section of art to engage with, so competition can be stiff. In effect, to help your work stand out you might need to invest in signage, easels, and backdrops to create an attractive booth. Established markets might have ATMs available for patrons to withdraw cash, but I still recommend artists invest in debit and credit card processors like Square, especially if they have high-priced items. It will increase your chances of making a sale on the spot!

8. Show your art at Art Walks.

The Paint Spot ran The Whyte Avenue Art Walk for 27 years and this is our favourite category of venues to help emerging artists find clients, make sales, and discover new opportunities. Art walks also provide a unique opportunity for patrons to watch artists create and ask questions about their process. There is a growing roster of art walks throughout Alberta, so a dedicated artist could show art nearly every weekend during the summer. Stay tuned for a video series on tips for Working Art Walks!

List of Art Walks in Alberta

We hunted down a number of art walks that operate in Alberta, some established, and others more long-standing. You can find them in our blog.

Art walks in Alberta
The Whyte Avenue Art Walk is Alberta’s longest-running festival of its kind.

9. Show your art at festivals and tradeshows.

Take your art to where shoppers congregate – it’s easier than trying to build an event to attract people. You might consider renting a booth or table space at a tradeshow or local festival. Keep in mind that there is often an expectation of having professional signage, display walls, easels, backdrops, and lighting to create an attractive booth in order to meet the standards of the event.  

These events can be expensive, and the hours can be long. You must be always on-site to work your booth. There is no surety that your art sales will cover the booth rental costs, but remember there is value in networking and leads that might make it worthwhile.

10. Show your art in an artist-run or non-profit gallery.

Non-profit galleries involve groups of artists who work together to show their art, promote the gallery, and sometimes offer community art classes or workshops. Some will even have studio space available for their members to create artwork on-site. Co-op galleries require a membership fee, which supports gallery maintenance, rent, promotion, etc. You may have to pay a commission when your art sells from the gallery.

Issuing a “Call for Artists” is a standard practice in the public art field. A call is a detailed invitation for artists and provides important information on how to apply for a project or an opportunity. Read these carefully to ensure your art, and your background meets the criteria.

A call for artists typically includes:

  • Exhibitions – artwork shows featuring selected artists
  • Competitions – awards for themed art contests
  • Vendor events – art fairs and craft show
  • Residencies – remote live-in spaces for creating art
  • Requests for proposals – paid art projects

Here are a few links where you might find a “Call for Artists” in Edmonton

Calls for artists in Edmonton
‘Women in Wax’ and Encaustic Exhibition at The Paint Spot.

11. Show your art in a vanity gallery.

A vanity gallery is an art gallery that charges artists fees to exhibit their work or charges for specified wall space. There are pros and cons to the value of vanity galleries. For the most part, vanity galleries don’t promote and develop relationships with artists like commercial galleries do. They are not selective because they don’t have to be. And it won’t necessarily impress a gallery director if they see it on your resume. Additionally, many professional critics and reviewers tend to avoid them. Do your homework. Check out the gallery; ask lots of questions about their marketing efforts and customer base, and never discount talking to exhibiting artists about their experience at the venue.

12. Show your art in a commercial gallery

Commercial art galleries are businesses that derive their profit from the sales of artwork, therefore they take great care to select art and artists that they believe will sell and will enhance their gallery’s reputation. This is basically why these are the most difficult to get into but also the most important to be in. They spend time and money cultivating collectors. When artwork sells, the artist gets paid after the gallery takes their commission.

For tips on how to find and work with a commercial gallery, read this: How to Find a Gallery to Show My Art?

More Tips for Showing Your Art

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Kim Fjordbotten: The Paint Spot owner 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.

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