Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hanging a show on a budget. Tips on how to save.

For many of us hanging a "gallery" show is an exciting prospect.

We either contact a local venue or better yet they contact us in regards to hanging some work. Whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned member of the show scene there are a few things you can do to save on expenses.

( image from: )

Here are some tips:


The key to saving money is planning and leaving yourself plenty of time to prepare and produce the finished products you will be hanging.

All too often I have people contact me days before an opening needing their prints in a rush. While I don't charge rush fees for my services (I also cannot guarantee them do to my limited lab schedule) many labs do, often a 100 - 200% mark-up over their standard prices, this plus the added expense of expedited shipping.

Then there are rush fees for matting, framing, etc.

Waiting too long can easily quadrouple the cost of preparing a show.

Leave yourself 4 -6 weeks if possible.

Know your venue

Having an idea of the space you'll be working with will help you select the right products to hang.

Are you preparing for a show you have not yet arranged or do you already have a place and date set?

A lobby in a small coffee shop may not accomodate those 16x20" prints you would like to put up, and a bunch of 5x7" images could be swallowed up a wall in an actual gallery.

"Standard" sizes are your friend

Standard sized prints and frames cost far less than custom sizes.

The most common sizes for both prints and frames are 8 x 10", 11 x 14" and 16 x 20". Because of these sizes are manufactured in bulk they cost far less than custom.

If you are on a budget sticking to these sizes will save you a bundle.

"My images don't fit those sizes!". Fine, create a standard size canvas in Photoshop and drop your image onto it. A 16 x 20" white canvas can accomodate image sizes from 3 x 4" up to 11 x 14" and look very elegant. In the same vane a 3:2 aspect ratio 6 x 9" or 8 x 12" image can be dropped onto an 11 x 14" will save you the added expense of buying 8 x 12", 12 x 18" or 16 x 24" frames.

Uniform print/canvas sizes save $$$

Prints for the most part are cheap. Frames, mats and finishing service are much more expensive.

You will have more leverage in negotiating frame and mat prices.

For example if you tell your framer you'll be needing 10 - 16 x 20" frames and 10 mats with an outside size of 16 x 20" and a opening of 10.5 x 13.5" he/she should be able to offer you a better price.

Random tips on how to save

Stock up on frames and mats when they are on sale.

Order all of your prints at one time to save on shipping.

Skip mats and print smaller images on larger canvases. For example a 11 x 14 printed on a 16 x 20 sheet of paper is $9.99 (my price) in comparison an 11 x 14" print with a 16 x 20" mat is approximately $16 -20 ($4.00 for the print and $12 - 16 for the mat). If using this option try to get some spacers for your frames so the print isn't touching the glass.

Probably the best bargain in terms of prints and frames is 11 x 14". Once you get to that 16 x 20" size costs triple.

Of course this is by no means the definitive list of "how to hang a show" but I hope some of you will find it helpful.

If anyone has any other tips it would be greatly appreciated if you would post them here also.