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Young artist, how to start your first exhibition?



I'm majoring in communication arts, mainly producing media arts. I'm making decisions between doing UI/UX design, or doing something more speculative/artsy and having exhibitions.

I'm super curious about how to get into the world of artists, galleries and museums? Do artists reach out to galleries by themselves? I have seen that some admitted grad students have a list of exhibitions and awards when they are at school, just feel like I'm not "active" enough. Anyone have suggestions? Thx!!

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I have a BFA in Visual Arts-photography and I'm now trying to get into grad schools for communication design, so I'm going to say I'm at least slightly qualified to answer your question.

To start, I would say it definitely depends on where you are living. I'm in Louisiana, so I'm sure things are probably a bit different here from other places, but I'm sure some things are the same. In the city I live in, a lot of the galleries are run by people who are fairly young, so they're always looking for artists that are still in school/just out of school. In those cases, it's completely fine to approach the galleries yourself. Try calling to set up a meeting to have someone view your portfolio. Also, it's a good idea to attend arts events and openings in your area. That way you're able to start networking with people who could possible help you out at some point.

It's also a good idea to be on the look out for juried shows. You should check out the site callforentry.org. It has a section where you can search by state for different competitions or juried exhibitions that you can enter. These do usually cost money, but it's not a ton. And if you're selected to be in the exhibition, it means your work will be available for people to purchase and they usually give away cash prizes at those events. And that site is cool because you can even submit your work in other states. I had a piece up at a gallery in Oregon for a few months, and I feel like that's a nice extra bit on my CV. 

Also, I think it's important to remember that you don't need a fancy gallery in order to have an exhibition. If you and a group of friends all want to get together and rent a little space for a group exhibition, you can totally put that on your CV as well. You can also look into doing a residency somewhere. Usually most of those come with a guaranteed exhibition at the end of the residency period. 

As far as getting legit gallery representation and having one sole gallery that always hosts your work and tries to sell it...I have no idea how to do that. The city I'm in doesn't have a lot of formal galleries like that.

I hope some of that was helpful!

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