End of year shows and exhibitions: tips worth studying

7th April 2010 by Denise

Around this time of the academic year, final year degree students in the world of art, design and photography start thinking about the future. Usually, it’s the very near future – end of year shows are looming large. The hard work and late nights will start to kick in, along with the questions. What work to show? How best to present it? How to get noticed in a show full of classmates, friends, and sometimes rivals?

Exhibition Invites, by B e r n i ✮

Exhibition Invites, above, by B e r n i ✮

Advice from those in the know

We spoke to Ian Macaulay, photography tutor at the London College of Communication, and Monika Koziol recent graduate and Junior Graphic Designer at MOO to get their advice.

Luckily Ian’s first tip is an easy one to master, ‘Sign your work’ he says, ‘it adds perceived value’. He continues on a similar theme, ‘Be present with your work, and act as if you’re already a professional’. Potential employers can easily spot those who are ready to hit the ground running. Be ready to discuss your work, think of some key points you can say about each piece. Some people might ask questions, be open to new ideas and conversations.

Monika continues, ‘Invite potential new employers to the show. Of course you’ll be inviting family and friends, but don’t forget to invite the people who could bring you work, or help you in the future’.

‘Stand out’, says Ian ‘In large shows people visit the bar first, then decide where to start; do something – music, colour, controversial content – something that makes them want to start with you’.

As a recent graduate who took an active role in organising a degree show for 180 students at Central St Martins College of Art, Monika adds, ‘Know the space you’re showing in, and work around it. Make sure you know the details – are you sure you can drill into the walls? If not, you’ll need to think of other ways to hang your work. How’s the lighting? Will you need a screen, if so you’ll need power. Remember the space you have available as you start planning your show.’

‘Presentation is vital’, says Ian. ‘Cheap frames imply cheap content’. Cost is something students find hard to ignore, but Monika continues ‘think creatively around the problem. It’s not always the most expensive shows that stand out!’

MiniCards make the show, above, by yocca

MiniCards make the show, above, by yocca

There’s two sides to a Business Card?

Take, take, take!
‘And what of Business Cards‘ we ask? Ian begins – ‘Collect business cards. It’s more important than giving them out sometimes, as you can then follow up on contacts’. Monika’s advice: ‘make sure you do follow up – and don’t leave it too long. It’s so easy to get caught up in the event itself, that you can lose the momentum. Follow up as soon as you get a chance, and try and arrange a meeting or a follow-up look at your portfolio in a less crowded space.’

Create Business Cards with your best designs, like Johnny Wan, above.

Create Business Cards with your best designs, like Johnny Wan, above.

It’s all about giving!
Monika is of course enthusiastic at the opportunities of creating Business Cards with MOO. ‘Almost every student will have a business card on offer. Most of them will feature beautiful typography – but very little that represents the body of work on show. When you take the cards away from the work, it’s pretty hard for your contacts to remember which work belonged to which student. The beauty of printing cards with MOO is putting different samples of work on each card. Your new contacts can take away a mini version of the work that interests them – so there’s no guessing at the end.’

A word from a soon to be graduate

We’ve been a fan of Alice’s creative ideas on Flickr for quite some time, so were very excited to see her planning a graduate show. We spotted her Business Cards recently, together with some cool little promotional books, also made with the aid of MOO.

A sneaky look at Alices Business Cards

A sneaky look at Alice's Business Cards

She says, “The Business Cards are great value as one can have a different image on each card, plenty of scope to showcase your work. I bought Business Cards and Stickers using the same six images to create a complete look to my brand image. These products will be used in conjunction with mini books using the same six images that will be my “swag” – everyone loves something free.”

Good luck to everyone working on their shows right now. It’s an exciting time – remember that, and try not to get too stressed. Want to publicise your show or share your exhibitions tips? Add a note in the comments.

Comments (7)

  1. Faith:

    You should definitely check the guys out in BA(hons) Contemporary Textile Practise at UWIC they are on twitter @CTPUWIC2010 There is some amazing work there!!

  2. Andreas Roos:

    If youre passing by Norrköping, Sweden by the 28 of may you´ll have a great opportunity to visit Graphical design & Communication students exhibition “13.51″ will be great!

  3. Karen:

    Our show is on the 17th May at Gray’s school of Art. Its for the BA in Commercial Photography.

    Your all more than welcome to come and we’re soo excited!!!

  4. Julianne:

    These are some great tips thanks.
    We are just preparing for our Degree Show at the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton.
    All types of Artwork will be on display but I specialise in illustration. It opens on the 5th June and runs for two weeks so if you’re nearby, then drop in and take a look.
    I recently got my business cards printed by Moo and I am extremely pleased with the result. The quality is fantastic and I will definitely be recommending Moo to friends and colleagues.

  5. macs dixon:

    Great tips, thank you. Our fine art Degree Show opens at Moray School of Art on 11th June, and runs for one week, so come and have a look. I’ll have my cards there from Moo!

  6. macs dixon:

    Great tips, thank you. Our fine art Degree Show opens at Moray School of Art on 11th June, and runs for one week, so come and have a look. I’ll have my cards there from Moo!

  7. Matt Porters:

    I found that at my end of year show, that many students exhibiting had lower quality prints, especially cheap, low quality business cards. For the little extra that I paid in comparison to create a more finished and well printed product, I feel at least that it gave me an edge over other students when speaking to industry members visiting our show. I still continue to use Moo today as the quality of print is consistent .

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