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Show and Sell
By Ann Ruel


A. Designing the Exhibit
The application has been filled out and mailed. Now, you are officially committed to the upcoming pottery exhibit. Whether the goal of your show is strictly to display or to sell, a potter has the responsibility to the show and to the other participating artists to make his display professional. This attention to detail will determine your reputation as an artist, the reception of your work, and the ultimate success of the overall show. Remember that a commitment to a show means respecting the other artists who have also made the same commitment. If your display looks good, they look good and
the show will be well received.

Different styles of work demand diverse staging, but there does seem to be basic conventions each of us adhere to when searching for just the right look. These conventions can be traced back to the formal Elements of Art and Design with your emphasis on keeping the pottery the top priority.

1. Line
The human brain works to scan the eye’s horizon line quickly forming an implied line as it examines item after item. When that line is essentially flat, the brain perceives it to be boring. When the horizon fluctuates to different heights or levels, the brain becomes challenged and engaged. Look at
the picture in Fig. A. When a group of pieces relatively the same size are arranged together on a tabletop even if there is a slight difference in height and grouping, they produce a static line which the viewer more than likely perceives as uninteresting. In Fig. B, when the same pieces are arranged at angles and varying heights, the line becomes much more engaging and attractive to the brain.


Fig. A

Fig. B

2. Space
Space, is also important for that dynamic line. A successful use of space can make the difference between an overcrowded exhibit versus one that allows each piece to shine. Each piece of your pottery is extraordinary. But, with improper spacing, the uniqueness of each piece gets lost. Your exhibit becomes a sea of forgettable pottery. Instead, carefully orchestrate resting places for the viewer’s eyes to be able to stop and focus by creating open spaces on the table. To do this, you may need to make a choice to store some of the pottery until later in the show in order to create a pleasing arrangement that shows off your hard work. In doing so, you form a showcase for the pieces left on the table. Not only that, but as the show progresses and you reveal stored pieces, you reinvent your display and viewers will want to come back for a second look.


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