Imagine you are hand-delivering your work to an exhibition. Most likely you'll walk in to deliver your artwork and won't know anyone there. Then you hand your art and craft to a total stranger, and everyone is busy and excited. The staff may be inexperienced volunteers, but all are thrilled that you are participating. Ultimately, you turn around and walk away.
Whoa, Nelly!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you get any documentation that you dropped off your work? Could you possibly remember who you spoke to during that frenzied morning?
Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the
Front Door from the Street © 1997-98
Multiple frames fabricated from recycled
tin cans and vintage steel dollhouses.
18" height x 20" width x 5" depth
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Before you go, be prepared. Make two copies of your documentation BEFORE leaving your house (or studio) with your artwork. This could be an Inventory Record, Condition Report, Exhibition Contract, or one-page Invoice. Upon arrival at the drop-off location for the exhibition, hand both copies of your paperwork to a representative of the Exhibition Sponsor and have them sign one copy and hand it back to you before you leave. The other copy stays with the work.
Print the representative's name on your copy of the paperwork. Ask to see their driver's license if you have any uncertainty. (Discretely make a note of the person's appearance, so you can remember in case there is a problem.)
This is your only proof that the work was delivered to the exhibition sponsor and to a responsible person. Don't just leave your work without this level of documentation that your work was delivered and received.
Frankly, a well-run exhibition should have all this paperwork ready, anticipating your arrival. If so, fabulous! You can feel very comfortable that this exhibition is going to be well organized. You'll sign each others' papers and everyone will be satisfied.
Unfortunately, all too often the exhibition sponsors are not this well prepared. And if you didn't bring your own copies of this paperwork, it is too late. By bringing in your own paperwork, you have a "backup plan." I believe in preparing backup plans before a crisis.
Your level of preparation will make you look like an experienced professional. You are the artist that is going to have a good night's sleep instead of nightmares about lost work.
P.S. Don't forget to read the previous posts about preparing the boxes for your artwork. These principles apply even if you are hand-delivering your work.
This post was updated on January 21, 2022.