Essential Tools for an Exhibition – Setting Up

Another Art Essentials post.  This post has been inspired by my own experience with setting up for my end of year exhibition.

1) Paint – Good old white household emulsion.  If, like me you have had to set up in the space you have worked in then it’s a good idea to cover up any marks you have made on the walls, such as paint splodges or finger marks, and it gives that space a clean, fresh feel too.

2) Paintbrushes/Roller and Paint Tray – For obvious reasons (see above)

3) Screwdrivers/Hammers/Scrapers – these are MY essential tools, depending on how you are displaying your work and how much you are altering the space will depend on what tools you will need.  I had fixtures attached to the wall (a light switch) others had picture rails, shelving, picture hooks, the list goes on…basically whatever tools you will need to help you get your space as you want it to be viewed by the audience.

4) For me Wallpaper and Paste – again, this will be dependant on you and how you want your space set up and your work to be displayed and viewed.

5) Patience and Elbow Grease – Being patient will help with setting up and make you more efficient.  Remember not to rush setting up, the audience will be able to tell if you have.  Be patient with others around you, they may be going through all manner of problems with their work.  If you have problems with your setting up, breathe and take 5 mins to think through your problem, ask for help or guidance if needs be.  Muck in with others if they need help and they will return the favour.  Be prepared to spend time cleaning and scrubbing, it will pay off in the overall effect.  I spent time cleaning the sink (and that was really gross) but it made me feel better on exhibition night knowing that, even though it was covered, should anyone peek beneath, it was clean and shiny again.)  If others who are setting up look a bit worried or concerned about something then ask whats wrong and see if you can assist.  Remember it’s not just about you and your work.

And when it’s all over, attend opening night, wander around and listen to what the audience is saying, it will make you feel really proud of your work!  Enjoy the atmosphere.  And one last thing, smile! 🙂

Essential Books for the Art Student

Following on from my post about Art Essentials is this, a post about my essential collection of art books…

1) The Art Book

2)The 20th Century Art Book

3) Cream

4) Fresh Cream

5) Cream3

6) Ice Cream

(all by Phaidon, available on

The above are an A-Z of well-known artists, or up and coming artists whose work has contributed to the art scene greatly.  In the “Cream” series of books up and coming artists or sometimes re-emerging artists work is featured that is interesting.  It’s worth looking through these books just to see what artists have done out of interest.

7) Beauty In Decay (Urbex)  Is a book that has many photographs of different buildings all in a state of decay, from buildings in Chernobyl to disused factories.  The works in here are beautiful to look at and inspirational.  They make you want to go out and find a disused building to go into and photograph.  Some of the images are altered slightly, the images curved, the perspective skewed and it makes me want to play around with software to create my own images that seem to have a magical quality.

8) The Contemporary Art Book (Charlotte Bonham Carter and David Hodge, printed by Goodman)  this is another compilation book, one that I have leaned on heavily in my research into modern-day artists and sculptors.  It is a book I don’t think I will ever tire of and one that every time I open I seem to find something new to look at, something I didn’t notice before.

9) The 1000 Journals Project (by Someguy)  I just really like this book and the idea behind it.  I don’t think I should give too much away about it, only that if you see a copy in a bookshop, buy it.  It will keep you mesmerised and interested for hours.  This book hasn’t lent itself to any of my projects but when I flick through the pages when I hit a “mind-blank” it seems to get me going again.  I think I owe myself and some of my projects completion to this book.  and I wish I could have taken part in such an amazing experiment!  (more info see because I’m not saying any more…)

So, that’s it, another “Essentials” list.  These are books I turn to for inspiration, research and just for pure enjoyment.  From these books I have discovered new artists that I like, they have aided my research, and I have gained more knowledge about the works I like but have yet to see in person.  It doesn’t matter if you buy these books or lend them from the local library but whatever you do, go out and grab one to have a flick through, find someone/something new that you like, discover a new technique to try or a way of improving.  Looking at these books has helped me so much I can’t begin to explain enough.

Art Essentials

So far I have only shared other people’s art and some of my own creations but today I have been thinking about art essentials, basically a list of all the things I can’t do without and seem to carry around with me most of the time to and from uni.  This was prompted by me arriving in uni and getting down to work only to realise I had left my double-sided tape and my masking tape at home (quite possibly the two major things I can’t do without) and then having to wait hours for the S.U shop to open so I could purchase more.  So here it is, my list of art essentials that is neither complete or comprehensive.

PAPER – Plain white or off white, good quality and good thickness.  A4, A3, A2, A1 or bigger are best.  Move away from the smaller stuff unless sketching for research.

PENS/PENCILS – A selection of lead pencils of different grades is good, from HB to the heavier grade ones (B, 2B, 3B etc), Black fine line pen (Hi-Techpoint are good… V5 series, 0.5mm), coloured pencils, felt pens (I use brush markers but general felt pens are also useful), charcoal sticks (the pencils, I find, aren’t so good as the charcoal snaps inside leaving you sharpening constantly and getting nowhere), Oil and chalk pastels are also useful, and permanent markers, I swear by Sharpie Markers.

PAINT – There are loads to choose from, pick whatever suits you.  Choose from acrylic (I use this), watercolour, poster paint, powder paint, oils, household, spray paint, inks, you could even use food, dyes etc, the list is pretty limitless.

BRUSHES – Whatever you are happy using – normal paint brushes, specialist brushes, household, toothbrushes, dustpan brushes.  Experiment, Improvise and have Fun working out what is best for you.

STICKY STUFF – Glue, PVA is multi purpose and you can use it to stick pretty much anything, sellotape, masking tape, double-sided tape, glue dots, glue gun and sticks, plastic glue (eg Bison Plastic Adhesive) and electrical tape.

CUTTING STUFF – scissors, big ones (kitchen scissors), medium ones (fine ones like hairdressing ones), delicate ones (like sewing ones), guillotine or something for straight edge cutting (I use a ruler with a built-in roller cutting blade), a scalpel for the little bits.

OTHER STUFF – metal ruler, compass (the circle drawing one!), sticky notes (I use these when I have ideas that I want to look into but don’t want to commit to my sketch book permanently just incase I don’t use those ideas later on), notepad, A1 mountboard (to mount completed work onto), good camera (mine has proved invaluable.  Use it for photographing things for research, for photographing your work etc…), A1 portfolio (for keeping your work safe and for ease of transportation), A3 or over sized wooden board (loads of uses, cutting board, drawing board, surface protector…), white sheet (to give a clean background when photographing work etc), a tool box to keep your kit safe in, a pencil-case to transport bits of your kit easily, pencil sharpener (trust me on this, buy a more expensive one, it will last longer), cutting mat, memory card to transport work and photos  from place to place easily), plasters (keep them in your kit, in your bag, in your room, in your pocket, trust me, you do not want to spoil work by bleeding on it from cuts caused by paper, scissor nicks, blades…)

A sense of fun, experimentation, imagination, improvisation and humour are also good additions.

As is a partner who doesn’t mind too much mess, noise, silence and chatter about nothing else but art.  One who doesn’t mind when you do something a bit odd in the name of art (see previous blog where I hung my bag contents from the washing line.) One who doesn’t mind helping when you can’t do something yourself (mine helped me create a harmonograph recently!), and who doesn’t mind you using their tools, or household items (in ways that they are not supposed to be used.  I have been known to create “art” from cutlery!)

The main thing to remember with art is to have fun!

As I said at the beginning, this list is not complete by any means as I have created it in the space of less than an hour and is not meant as a complete list of things an artist should rush out and buy.  These are things that I merely can not do without on a daily basis and are my basics.  I do use other things in my art but have not included these here.  Perhaps I shall create a new list at some point to encompass these items?