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Finding Your Niche - Need more exposure, more sales?

The next time you're hungry, in need of a new hairstyle, want to fly to your relatives or just need to reconnect with your spiritual side, think about this: how can you turn this situation into an opportunity to show your work? Here are a few suggestions on identifying and approaching potential art show venues-and nope, there's not a gallery in the bunch!

Your favorite restaurant, coffee house or other food/drink establishment:

For many up-and-coming artists, a restaurant or coffee shop may be the first stop on a larger tour of the town. Select items from your collection that fit into the restaurant's larger theme and feel-consider choosing a series of black-and-white portraits to counteract the busy, bright walls of City Java, or a more colorful grouping of pieces to draw the eye to the romantically lit mezzanine of the upscale eatery.

Choose restaurants whose patrons are likely to be interested in your work. For example, your highly abstract nudes would do better in a wine bar than a small diner style environment. And finally, be aware of the unique challenges and risks that a restaurant display can provide-exposure to food and varying levels of humidity can damage sensitive artwork, and strong smells can stick to the canvas and/or frame long after the work has been removed from the eatery. Choose your work accordingly.

Your salon or spa:

People go there to be pampered-so why shouldn't you pamper their eyes with your beautiful work? Your favorite salon, day spa or other beauty services environment is a perfect place to host your first (or your 21st) show. Start with the place that does your hair, then venture out to salons and spas in the ritzier areas of town, where clients are more likely to have the cash to pamper themselves with one of your pieces!

Your local airport:

The walls of even the smallest regional airports still leave plenty of white space to fill-so why not take the opportunity to adorn them with your work? No matter if your medium is paint or photography; your artwork can breathe much-needed life into the airport's otherwise run-of-the-mill confines.

This is one of those situations where smaller is better-the smaller the airport, the fewer layers of bureaucracy there will be-or at least that's what artist friends have told us. Start with the non-hub airports closest to you and then work your way up. And first, talk to the airport's PR/marketing team-they're oftentimes looking for easy feel-good news items to feed to the media, and an announcement about hosting a show for a local artist may be just the kind of warm fuzzy press they're looking for.

Your church, synagogue or other place of worship:

Depending on the nature of your work and the nature of your church or synagogue, your pastor may be open to hosting a small display in one of the church's public areas. A display in one of the building's main hallways or a grouping of images hanging on the walls of the church's foyer can add visual interest. Consider tithing part of the proceeds from any sales to the church.

Your country club or other social gathering spot:

Whether you're there to play a round of golf, socialize with friends over a few adult beverages or dance to the sounds of a favorite local band, your country club offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase your talent to people who are actively showing they have disposable income to spend on things that they enjoy.

Don't belong to a country club? If you have a friend that does, ask them if they'd feel comfortable introducing you to the club's general manager, or simply call the club to schedule an appointment with him. And don't forget to consider approaching your local Moose lodge, library or even your area's Senior Center-if people gather there, they're a natural audience for your work.

Your doctor's office or local hospital:

Anywhere that people will most likely be waiting for a long time is a potentially good spot to display your photos. Doctor's offices and hospitals are historically very open to working with their local artists. Start by thinking about your own doctor-are their any pieces in your current collection that would be appropriate for her waiting room? What about the waiting room at your daughter's pediatrician's office? Speak with the doctor's office manager about what possibilities exist.

The county (or privately-owned) hospital down the street is also an excellent spot for displaying your cheeriest of images. Images may be placed in public areas, like behind the patient information or volunteer desks, or in hallways in the actual patient wards. Ask the hospital administrator if they would consider letting you place a few of your works in their gift shop.

Your influential acquaintance's living room wall:

Though not technically a full-fledged art display, this idea does certainly offer artists a neat idea for a niche. Are you going to be rubbing elbows with the mayor at a charity event this weekend? Offer her a piece of your work, totally free, but with one catch: she must agree to place it in one of the public rooms of her house. Certainly, you'll be missing out on this sale, but you'll be creating the potential for many others. Assuming your acquaintance has an active social life, many of her friends and family will be taking note of her new piece of art-and perhaps even contacting you to see what you have to offer for sale.

But don't go overboard-giving artwork to one or two influencers is enough. The last thing that you want to have happen is to have people who are perfectly capable of purchasing your artwork to be contacting you trying to get it for free! Choose your influencers wisely.

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