Last month, I had my very first gallery show in New York City. Through the magazine I've been published in a few times prior, they had asked if I would like to be a part of their showcase of artists. Of course I accepted. Technically, I couldn't get into my very first venue (being 20 and all), but who cared! This was it.
Me being suuuuper awkward as always.
Anywho, what I learned in the process is just how quickly things can go from grand ol' time, to "oh crap I have to prepare for this- and now." What event of mine would be complete without things needing to be done in the eleventh hour the night before? (I really need to work on that.) While going through the process of getting everything ready, I discovered a few things I thought I'd share.
What I Learned (and should of realized long ago):
1. Print everything waaaaay ahead of time. Due to the nature of my work, a few of my prints came back to me way too dark to show. They looked great on screen, but in real life it sucked. I didn't end up having enough time to re-order them, so it was super-frustrating. This brings me to my next point..
2. Don't wait until the week before to do giant retouches. It sucks and you may not get everything "perfect" in time. You would think this is a no-brainer by now..
3. See the space beforehand. I went ahead and did a walk-through with the manager and editor of the magazine to see exactly what I'd be dealing with. This way, I was able to come up with a game plan as far as how I would display everything. The walls ended up being not-so-great to hang things, so easels it was. Again, no brainer, but splitting the space with another photographer friend that hadn't seen the layout & lighting was saved last-minute by a stray bucket light in the space that he was able to use to illuminate his prints in an area that was essentially pitch black.
4. Have a transport plan. This saved my butt when we decided to pack all the frames into suitcases with plenty of stuffing to keep them all in place. Instead of having 10 opportunities to smash up a frame while carrying them in, they were all tucked safely into two giant suitcases that I could easily wheel & carry on the small streets and down a flight of stairs.
5. Ask a lot of questions. Sure, it may come off as slightly annoying, but it's better to know beforehand that drinks aren't included and food was limited to an hour. These are the important questions everyone attending, including myself, want to know. When the heck is food coming and will there be enough. We ended up making a giant cheese & cracker plate just in case, which people ended up making full out sandwiches out of (you know who you are).
6. Don't piss a lot of people off. This one may seem silly, but hear me out on it. I used to have no problem cutting people out of my life and went by the motto of "may the bridges I burn light my way" for a few months there. Let me tell you how wrong this is. I find people constantly, that I would of never guessed, from my past that still look at my work. Now of course there's a time and a place to distance yourself from someone, but I've found keeping a light, friendly connection with as many people I come into contact with as possible ends up benefitting the most. I appreciate each and every person that came out to support me and my work, each of which I took the time to thank for being there, whether it meant a five minute subway ride or hour and a half train from Connecticut.
7. Most importantly, have fun. Despite last-minute changes, worry that no one would show, or a too-tight dress that left me walking up and down the stairs sideways (which Jill promptly laughed at me for), I had a lot of fun. It was great seeing old and new faces, interacting and explaining various pictures, as well as just being in the moment. It was great to step back and see how well everything came together.
Shout-out to Nicole Mago for the images as well!
P.S. - Don't forget extra business cards! This one's tooootally not from experience or anything..