Planning your gallery show: DESIGN

By February 18, 2013Blog, Gallery Shows, Photography

This is Part 3 of my Planning Your Gallery Show presentation. After deciding on a theme and planning the layout for my ‘The Spaces Within‘ gallery show, I moved on to designing all of the pieces that go along with a having a show — both promotional and informational.


First things first, I didn’t have a logo yet, or a business card. I decided to ask my husband Rob, also a graphic designer, to design my logo (my only direction to him was that I wanted a type solution). I’m so pleased with the end result — he definitely captured me and my style. After the logo was done, I designed a simple business card.


I then moved on to designing a promo card for my show. This was my first opportunity to visually represent the theme of my show, to share a taste of my photography and a short bio and of course details such as date and time. Of my photographic work, my self-portraits are the most unique, so I chose one of my most intense ones as the lead image. I wanted to set the mood with this first piece and to make it clear that visitors to the show could expect an eclectic mix of fine art photography.


After that, I designed the labels. I chose to print them on grey stock, so that they’d sink back into the magnet board background, allowing the photos to take the forefront. I kept the labels simple, including the name of the photo as well as indicating whether it was for sale and if applicable, a limited edition.

Note: I do wish that I would have included a short write-up about each photo (a ‘talker’). As I was really only at the gallery for the opening reception, including that would have allowed my visitors to understand a bit more about each piece, perhaps drawing them in even more. I did include poems that I had written for a few of my self-portraits, but I wish I would have done more. Oh well, a note for next time.


I also designed directional signage to lead visitors in from street level and then up the stairs to the gallery.


I also purchased a simple point of sale stand that included room for a backer card and my business cards. The backer card included a note about where and how my photos could be purchased, as well as any thank you’s that I wanted to say. Last but not least, it encouraged my visitors to sign my guest book. The For Sale sign was especially necessary because PrairieView is not a typical gallery space in that a gallery owner is there to answer questions and facilitate sales. My potential buyers needed to know how to reach me.


Finally, I decided to put together a Price List brochure that included pricing information on each photo that I had for sale, as well as various printing options. This brochure served as a takeaway for interested buyers.

When planning your show, you’ll need to decide which types of collateral are necessary to help make it a success. However the design should reflect both your work and the theme of your show and there should be strong continuity between all of the pieces, effectively creating one unified package.

In my case, I’m a graphic designer, so was able to create everything myself, to the creative and professional level that I desired. If this isn’t the case for you, I would strongly encourage you to work with a professional designer. If you don’t have a contact, you can find one through in Canada, in the States, or internationally.

It is really important to reflect and match the quality of your art with everything that you do to represent your show — from the way you talk or write about it, to the way that you promote it and with the informational pieces that you surround it with. From my perspective, it doesn’t make sense to spend all that time and money to develop your art, frame it for display and then sell yourself short by scrimping on the design. The whole package is important.

If you missed Parts 1 and 2, you can read about Theme here and about Layout here. Part 4 will be posted in a week or so.

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