Saturday, January 8, 2011

How much TIME does an exhibition take?

Just as you may wonder about how much does an exhibition cost so too may you wonder how much time you need to allocate to producing your exhibition, from brainstorming and researching to the launch night. 

From my experience with my first solo exhibition, I tried to keep tabs on the time I spent on different tasks to get an idea. (Also I was curious to see how long it really took me to do a painting).

Here is a table of tasks and timeframes in an Exhibition Time Sheet Example

Calculations are based over a 12month exhibition development period; estimating 40weeks could be used for development. Allow for interruptions such as school holidays if you have kids or are expecting visitors, busy periods such as Christmas and Easter and general sick or other leave.

Add extra time to your estimate, about 10-20hrs more or less depending on the size of your exhibition, your working process and other tasks to organise for your show.

I believe I have grossly underestimated by another 10-20hrs as there is so much time I didn’t consider for example, I included driving time to collate resources but not the time spent in the art shop, for instance I could spend 0.5-1hr at the art shop each time. I am not sure on the research time as I do spent a lot of time on the internet research reference images. Try to minimise your computer time as it is never ending and does take so much of your time. Set yourself a limit, and if you haven’t found what you are looking for, seek alternative such as research the library.

How much time do you allocate to work on your exhibition?
My initial allocation was to be minimum 6hrs per week or 1day per week for the 40weeks. From calculating research, painting and administration time which could be spread over 40weeks, it works out to be approximately 4hrs plus a week. Though there were weeks I spent as little as an hour or no time and on the other scale some weeks had 5-6hrs plus.
Consider your life; work, family and leisure time. I worked part time, had a newborn baby and still had to make time for family and going out. So in the scheme of things you may think ‘oh I could spend more time then X amount a week working on my exhibition’ but in reality time just gets taken up with things. I was lucky and as my baby got bigger, and slept less therefore less painting time, I was able to put her in daycare 1-2days a week for a few hours which allow me to find my allocation time. Also working an hour or 2 at night sometimes.

Start taking notice of how much time you spent researching reference material, sketching ideas, making tonal drawings and/or colour scheme examples. Average it out. Some ideas are straight from the head and you know exactly what you want to do, others don’t come so easily and you need to work them out. For me I can spend anywhere from 1-3hrs researching reference images alone. I can take 0.5-1hr on a pencil greyscale tonal sketch and a quick chalk pastel colour scheme.

Start ‘logging’ your time spent on how long it takes from start to completing a painting. If you are not confident yet, don’t worry yourself about your time, don’t feel pressured, it is just good to be aware if you are spending too much time fixating on detail when you could have stopped hours ago. For me a small painting can be 1-3hrs, medium painting about 6hrs and a large painting 10hrs plus. This does not include research time or varnishing, just painting time.

As listed in the exhibition time sheet example, there are many facets to the ‘administrational tasks’ required to work on during the creation process to just prior to the exhibition date. These will vary task-wise and time-wise depending on what you want to include or exclude and how long it takes you to complete. I believe I have grossly underestimated the approximate times as I was not recording every instance I engaged in working on a task, sometimes it could be 5mins here, 30mins there or a good block of time in between other things. What did take up A LOT of time was the computer and graphics work. Working on documents such as the Artist Statement, Exhibition Statements, Mail out contacts list, Guest Book Sheet and Price List, and taking photographs of the paintings then editing them in a Photo manipulation program, then uploading images to my website and so on.

Other tasks & Activities
Other tasks and activities such as attending a workshop or art class may or may not be directly linked to your exhibition but also may benefit the execution of a painting. Working on business cards or even updating your online social networking sites etc, keeping your profile up leading up to your exhibition all helps getting you noticed so people attend. 

This information is available in the Exhibition Time Sheet Example Document

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