SOLO Exhibitors: Are You Ready to Run the Race? Karen Kohtz' Top Tips for Success

[SOLO] exhibitors: take note! Artexpo New York 2010 Exhibitor Karen Kohtz is a seasoned exhibitor with excellent advice to share. This is her second guest blog for Artexpo. www.karenkohtz.com

Artist, 2010 exhibitor & guest blogger Karen Kohtz

For [SOLO] artists, getting ready for Artexpo is like being an athlete and getting ready for a marathon. Athletes work out a preparation schedule long before they run the race. Every day, they set goals to build strength, endurance and mental balance to be emotionally ready for the big day. Preparing for Artexpo is no different. Here are some helpful hints to ensure you cross the finish line victorious!

1. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR OBJECTIVE
What is your motivation for exhibiting? Are you trying to attract new galleries for representation? Are you trying to introduce your art to a larger global audience? For me personally, one of my objectives was to attract the attention of designers working with large corporate spaces, lobbies, restaurants and hotels. If your hope is to sell enough art at Artexpo to pay for your booth and expenses, I would encourage you to set your goals higher and dream bigger. Being clear about what you want is the first step in achieving it.

2. PREPARING YOUR BOOTH
This part should be easy because you are creative. Lay out your art and how you plan to display it ahead of time. Bring your best original works. I suggest not only business cards, but also a 3×5 or 5×7 card with an example of your work, a picture of you and your contact information. Prospective clients will be seeing a lot of art over the weekend, so anything you can do to help them remember you is a plus.

3. GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
Don’t go solo as a [SOLO] artist. The other artists around you will be a valuable resource and support over the course of the event. Get to know your comrades right away! In 2010, one row of artists coined a nickname for themselves: “Avenue 1400.” They bonded together as new friends and created an energy of excitement around their work.

4. BE PROACTIVE
Stand up; don’t sit passively in the corner of your booth. This will help you stay proactive and engaging with the opportunities before you. Remember, this is a marathon you are running. Think of the four days at Artexpo as the last four miles of your personal marathon. You never see a runner sitting down after they cross the 22-mile mark. They are looking only at the finish line.

5. BE MENTALLY PREPARED
After all your art is ready and you’re ready to bring your personal best to this exhibition, what’s next? Mental preparation! I believe it is your mental attitude that will determine your outcome. Be open, be flexible and, above all, be optimistic.

6. WHAT TO EXPECT
You have worked hard to get to Artexpo and your adrenaline will be running high with excitement and expectations from day one. Your fellow [SOLO] exhibitors are feeling the same thing, so you are not alone! As well as you should be prepared by now, no one can determine exactly how the event will unfold for each artist. Some of you will sell your work the first day. Others may consign work to new galleries with sales coming later on down the road. Be open to the unexpected.

7. MY EXPERIENCE
2010 was my first year as a [SOLO] exhibitor. A few days into the show, I had only sold two pieces. I must admit my confidence was compromised and I began to question if I had made the right decision in exhibiting at Artexpo. By the last day, things started to turn around. I connected with two new galleries—one in Boston, and one in Santa Fe. Being represented by a gallery in Santa Fe had always been a desire of mine, so this alone was a personal victory. By the end of the show, I had consigned the majority of my work to these new galleries.

8. AFTER THE SHOW
Several days after the show was over, I was contacted by an architectural firm in Manhattan looking to commission a piece of art for their lobby. They did not attend Artexpo, but rather found me through the Artexpo website (you get a lot of online exposure simply by having your name on ArtexpoNewYork.com’s Exhibitor List!). Over the last two years, this connection has brought me numerous clients long after the show was over. I have had the opportunity to work with art consultants and designers, and this was all made possible from exhibiting at Artexpo. In the end, it proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So if you get off to a slow start as I did, don’t be discouraged. Every experience you have had in your life has brought you to this pinnacle point in your artistic career. It marks your effort, your hard work and above all your extraordinary talent.

I look forward to meeting you at this year’s show. Have a great exhibition!

—Karen Kohtz

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