Themed Art Shows: A Great Way to Promote Your Work and Stir Your Creativity

By Niki Hilsabeck in Art Business Advice > Selling at Art Fairs

When you think of local art shows, a few things might come to mind. Perhaps you think of your local art association, a popular local events for the arts, or an annual show organized around a particular theme.

I’ve participated in a local themed show in my community for the past several years, and every year I’ve found reasons to continue. In fact, I believe there are multiple benefits to participating, whether you’re an artist or just a member of the community in general. Here are four that I’ve found:

1. It’s always a creative challenge

If you live in an area known for a particular product (for example, I live in a town famous for its avocados) the local chamber of commerce tends to focus a lot of energy on promoting the town’s signature product. Art shows, events, you name it, it’s all going to be centered around that subject.

While an art show themed around a particular fruit or vegetable might not sound like your preferred type of subject matter, painting a little outside your comfort zone is a great way to breathe a little creative life into your routine. If you choose to participate each year, trust me, eventually you’ll find yourself looking forward to the challenge of thinking of new ways to incorporate the theme of the show into your entry.

I don’t paint avocados that often, but knowing that I’m going to be using them at least once each year gives me the opportunity to try new ideas months before the show deadline. Painting the same subject in different ways each year also brings me new artistic skills (particularly problem-solving) which I find apply to other works, too.

2. You can easily make local connections

One of the benefits I’ve seen from participating in a local themed show is the connection I’ve made with the chamber of commerce. If you’re an artist who sells your work, you’re effectively a small business owner, and the chamber of commerce for your town is there to help local businesses succeed.

By participating in an art show that promotes a local product, I get the support of the chamber of commerce’s promotional efforts and business connections. Any art show that does well in terms of sales benefits the local business community, which ultimately benefits any artists in that community.

Plus, there are almost always local business owners sponsoring and attending the show, some of whom might be interested in purchasing the art they see hanging in the gallery for their businesses. You can’t lose by being a part of the action!

3. You’ll instantly get wider exposure

Local art association shows are great outlets for you to share your art. That said, they also have a limited audience, depending on the participation level of the residents in your community when it comes to the arts.

A themed local show, however, draws curious visitors from outside the inner circle of the art community (especially if the art show is paired with an event such as a street festival or celebration). People who might not otherwise attend an art show may be drawn in by their curiosity, or might feel more comfortable attending because they know what to expect when they view the art.

Not to mention that most local chambers of commerce usually put considerable effort into getting some press coverage for the show, which can put your name, face, and art into the local news depending on how the show is promoted (especially if you win an award!)

4. You’ll meet new artists and be inspired

One of my favorite parts of participating in our local themed show every year is seeing the creativity of other artists. Viewing the work of artists I admire is always inspiring, as is discovering artists whose work I’ve not previously seen.

It’s also fun to see artists cut loose and deviate a little from their signature styles. I know that each year a few artists will come up with something truly unique and skillfully created – and the more offbeat entries always add an element of the unexpected, too!

So next time you see an advertisement for a local themed art show, ask yourself if you’re up for the challenge. You might be surprised at what a little trip outside your comfort zone can do for you.

And, if your area doesn’t have such a show, give your local chamber of commerce a call—you could be given the chance to bring the community together in a fun, inspiring way that supports your local art and business scene!


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