The Zero Dollar Art Show: Utilizing Social Media and Alternative Space to Sell Your Work

Curating your own DIY art show doesn’t have to be complicated OR expensive. In fact, you might be surprised at how easy it is display and sell your artwork for no cost to a solid audience of art lovers. Finding an alternative space to display and sell your work (and your friends’ work!) and using social media to promote the event are the two key ingredients you need to maximize profit at your Zero Dollar Art Show. 


Do you have a friend that works at an independent coffee shop, restaurant or bar? Talk to them about hanging your work and having a have a show opening. You can also check with the owners of businesses you are a patron of. For example, I had already built a mutually beneficial relationship with the owners of the nearby bar by painting seasonal artwork onto their windows in exchange for some of their goods (ok, ok, a few free beers). They were happy to host my event and run drink specials for the evening! Whether you can offer graphic design or photography, your artistic talent is sure to be a valuable resource for your business partner.


Create a Facebook Event. This is what really gets the bodies through the door. You’ll want to do this about 2-3 weeks in advance. Make sure the event is public, and that the page has an attractive custom photo for the background. Be sure to include links to the artists’ websites and online storefronts. Be specific about the date, time, location; food or drink specials; anything that makes the night unique. All participants should invite their friends and share the event on Facebook. You can make sure the invitees see your event pop up in their feed after the initial invitation is sent by having the participating artists post photos of their works in progress onto the event page. This generates excitement in the days leading up to the show. Unless someone has turned off notifications for the event, this will pop up in the feed of everyone who has been invited so they don’t forget. Check back every day, and you’ll see that RSVP YES number inch upwards every time someone posts!

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Encourage your participants to post pictures of what they’re working on to the Facebook event in the days leading up to the event. This generates excitement and reminds people of the show

Post on Instagram. Because art shows rely heavily on visuals, this is super important for artists to use to pre-promote the show. Pick a short, memorable, yet unique hashtag for your event that you and your fellow participants can use when they put up pictures of projects they are working on or of artwork they are going to display. People will be able to find your event easier before, during, and after the show with this. Make sure to include it on any graphics promoting the show info as the “official” hashtag, and include it in your Facebook event and/or blog post. Tag people on these photos that you think would enjoy your show, and tag the artists participating as well. Not everyone is going to comment or like, but just know that they are definitely looking.

Post on Twitter. Use the same hashtag across social media sites for continuity, and use it every time you talk about the event. You can tweet links to your artist’s websites, and pictures before and during the event to ramp up interest with your followers. You will also want to “mention” (@) local community, news, or art accounts. If they think your event is cool, chances are they’ll retweet it for you. Share the Facebook event link on Twitter and watch your “going” number grow even higher.


-Try a group show first. This will maximize your number of visitors.
-Partner with a local print shop. Ask them to print posters and postcards for free in exchange for their logo or a coupon on the flyer, and mentions on your social media accounts.
-Get your friends involved. A friend in the beginning stages of a food or music career might want to set up at your event as well. They can entertain or feed people, and make a few bucks too. Anything that adds spice to the event is always a plus!
-Have realistic price points. It’s great to have some bigger pieces to showcase your talent, but smaller, functional, less expensive work tends to sell easier depending on your audience.
Let the Bodies Fill the Room!

Let the Bodies Fill the Room! #artistsofthekeep

Need help planning your art event? Feel free to reach out to me!

5 thoughts on “The Zero Dollar Art Show: Utilizing Social Media and Alternative Space to Sell Your Work

  1. Sarah,
    I loved this post! A lot of my friends from college are artists and I know that they struggle with money and really promoting their work when they may not have a lot of connections. People complain about social media and how it takes away from experiencing what is right in front of you, but I think it is a wonderful tool that when used correctly can really be amazing. I think that Facebook would be the most effective at first because it would raise awareness with the most amount of people, then for the actual event you could use instagram and have a hashtag (similar to what I spoke on in my post) so that others can view how successful it was.


    1. Amanda,
      part of the problem with art school is that, in general, artists are not trained in business and marketing practices. This puts them at a serious loss upon graduating. Artists sometimes have a hard time accepting that business and marketing knowledge is a tool that is critical to their success, and that is part of the problem (there is a kneejerk reaction, you could say).

      You are correct that Facebook is the most effective tool that should be implemented first when promoting an art show. You always want to start with inviting your friends, family, and immediate community. It is then a Domino effect. Artists should think of it as a gathering of the community, at which their art just so happens to be in the room or event. People love coming together and having a reason to celebrate, and art is the perfect backdrop for that.


  2. Sara,

    The title, “Zero Dollar Art Show”, really caught my attention. I loved your post! I think that event planning/promotion is a good skill set to have both on and off of social media. Engaging with the community is key to being successful, especially as an artist, of any medium (fine arts, graphic design, tattoo artist, and so on). Art is social and meant to be shared. If we created it just for ourselves, we wouldn’t make much of a living!

    As a sidebar, I secretly get excited when I am invited to weddings that have an official hashtag so that attendees can document the even via social media platforms. Does that make me a bit of a geek? Probably. But it just makes events more fun!


  3. Great blog and post! You have really got it together. I hope you don’t mind, I posted a link to my blog, which is still a work in progress, but getting there.


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