I had a creative colleague of mine ask about my RAW experience. In response to her I told her mainly the pros and cons of being in a RAW show and how to best prepare. So I wrote a blog article to help other new RAW artists prepare for the event.
I have been in three RAW shows actually in the past year. I was in the 2013 RAWards, Envision Artopia and Holiday RAWk! I’m a bit mixed in the RAW experience… and will tell you my pros and cons. And how to best prepare for the challenges. But that being said, I will be participating in another RAW show later in 2014…so its something I plan to continue working with in the future!
Promotions: While RAW has been helpful for providing experience and art opportunities…RAW is a lot about promotions and giving artists exposure. They do a short promo video and take pictures of the event. However, do as much promo on your end that you can. The link below is to one of the promo videos they made for me.
Do not expect RAW to do all of the promo on their end. Take initiative. Bring business cards and things to pass out to attendees for marketing purposes.
You’ve already made a RAW profile by now. It suits the website and is nice. Try considering updating it to keep it relevant. But don’t just rely on the profile though. Use emails, Facebook pages, Twitter, newsletters and postcards to reach your audience for marketing. Think outside the box too!
If you are apart of the RAWards for the year, they will create some signage for you which is great for both online marketing and to print and have on your display.
Tickets: When you are accepted into a RAW show you have to sell tickets…kinda like back in high school or college. Where you get X number of tickets that you are required to sell them. Essentially you pay RAW to show your work. If you don’t sell the tickets (which can be pretty difficult) you have to pay for the value of the unsold tickets. I recommend paying for all the tickets yourself and selling (or giving) them to friends, family, and your other attendees. If you are showing near the holidays, they can be a great gift. That way you are covered if you don’t sell them all.
Tickets can be hard for your attendees to navigate as well because you must create a profile to purchase them. From my experience tickets cost $10 each, the RAWards was $15 each. I was required to sell 20 for each show. Some of the venues don’t allow attendees to be under 21 or under 18. Check with the Director to see what the age limit is.
2012 Holiday RAWk at The Fine Line Music Cafe
Venues and Exhibitions: The venues are not suited for exhibitions, but you can definitely make it work! You are a creative artist so get creative on installing. I have worked in three different venues too. Two were night clubs and one was a hotel. I have suspended artwork on fishing line from the ceiling at the first show on a second story balcony and in the second show I invested in professional ProPanels and was exhibiting in a conference room.
The third show we were provided a chain link fence to hang work from. There is also no lighting…or great lighting for exhibiting artwork. You have to have to have to do something on your part to light up your work. So exhibiting the work can get extremely expensive when you don’t have these tools to help install.
On the flip side…now that I spent the money on panels and lighting, the last RAW show was a piece of cake to do because I was prepared for it and could work in the space. If you plan to just do one RAW event, borrow or rent materials. If panels, tools, lights and other materials will be used in future exhibitions and opportunities, then invest in them. A quality display is important; it makes you look professional.
Question to ask the Director: Once you get accepted into a RAW show, there are a few questions you should ask the Director. What if any panels or display space you will be provided in the venue. How much space you are given. And also ask about needing extension cords (which you most likely will). You may also have to request a small table to have to set up your promo materials near by your art. You will get one free person in the door to help you as an assistant too to help with set up. There will be a walk through to see the space a few weeks before the show, go to that! If you know any additional RAW participants/artists. Ask them about their experience and if they have any suggestions for preparations.
Displays at The Venue December 2013
Show Day: On the day of the show you are allowed to set up a few hours before the show, ask when you can arrive to set up. Set up right away. Some people show up super late, like an hour before the event. Be prepared and coordinated. Show up early and set up so you can anticipate any problems and trouble shoot them asap. At the RAWards 2013 I was the first artist to show up and install and I got to choose where I was, and was the first artist at the top of the stairs. Showing up prompt sometimes has its perks.
Overall Experience: RAW shows are a good experience and if you haven’t done one I would recommend doing at least one. That way you can find out if they are your thing or not. They are work though! A one night show can be a lot of work. Dont expect this to be a sell out show or a great place to have a lot of merchandise turn out. This is an opportunity for promotion. So get out there, shake some hands and pass out your business cards. During the one night event, you get to experience the whole RAW show during the evening including musicians, performers, dancers and more. So its fun during the whole 4-5 hours.