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The Power of Presentation in Art

May 12, 2010

Room to Breathe

So, you’re an artist and the rules don’t apply to you.

It’s true, in some cases. Throughout history, the artist’s role has often been that of the ruler-breaker, the challenger of the status quo.

But there’s a time and a place for rule breaking, and presentation is not one of them.

If you want gallerists, curators, and potential clients to take you seriously, you need to take yourself seriously. Part of that is presenting your art and yourself in a professional way.

Presenting Your Art

No matter what kind of work you do, make sure it’s presented in a clean professional manner, especially if it’s being submitted to a commercial venue.

When I do my experimental abstract constructions, I can’t worry about the presentation. Thinking about how the piece will look when it’s finished hinders my ability to work freely and to take risks.

After the piece is done, though, I do everything I can to make it presentable. When Room to Breathe (the painting featured above) was accepted into a commercial exhibit, I made sure to sand away any stray bits of paint and make the raw wood smooth. Even though the back is a mess of cross-pieces and supports, I painted it all black and labeled it nicely. Then I varnished the whole painting.

If you paint on canvas, make sure the edges are neat and painted. If you frame your work, get good quality frames that compliment the art. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money, it just means being aware of your presentation.

Presenting Yourself

Don’t think that being an artist gets you out of having to look nice and presentable. Unless you’re doing a studio visit and people expect to see you working, don’t make appearances in your paint-splattered clothes!

Whether you’re attending an opening or hosting a curator, you should dress appropriately for any professional event. You never know when you might meet the person who will present you with a new opportunity. The way you dress affects the way people see you, as harsh as that might be. You want to inspire confidence in other people who may one day need to rely on you. Look like the person who will deliver work on time, who will come through with necessary paperwork, who will show up for interviews.

Presenting Your Proposal

You also need to think about the presentation of any kind of proposal or documents that you send to a gallery. This is what will speak for you when you’re not there to speak for yourself!

Make sure your proposal presents the right kind of image. Have all typed materials in the font and size, and format each page the same way. That will make your information look organized. If you need to fill out an application form, print neatly.


The art world is a competitive one. Don’t give people an easy excuse to dismiss you! When interviewing for a job, they say to dress for the position you want, not the one you have. Take this philosophy into your art career and never underestimate the power of a good presentation.

  1. Well done. I like your tips.

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