Hang Your Art Show Essentials

It’s time to hang your art show. Learn from my mistakes and be ready. I’ve hung dozens of art shows of my own work and other artist’s artwork. Many times I have found myself without something I needed. Once, a restaurant owner offer the use of a ladder to hang the show. When I got there the restaurant owner was out and wouldn’t be back till the next day. No one knew where the ladder was! I was in trouble! Now I have to stand on tables and chairs, or go get a ladder somewhere. I figured it out but I wasn’t happy.

Today is the day you are you are going to hang your art show! Make sure you have everything.

Listen– No matter what people say they are going to do for you do your best not to need them to do anything for you. Make sure you have everything you need to do the job yourself. The way you hang the show determines how people perceive your artwork. If you do a crap job your art will come off very badly. Do the best job that you can displaying your artwork.

I bring these things with me when I deliver a painting that I sell and offer to hang the art work for the buyer as a bonus free service.

Once I got to a wine bar where I was going to hang some art but the previous artist left the wall damaged. Fortunately I had spackaling, a dropcloth and a paintbrush, The owner had some left over paint and I was able to repair the wall myself. I solved the problem because I was prepared. Here is a comprehensive list of tools to take with you when you go to hang a show yourself.

I bring these things with me when I deliver a painting that I sell and offer to hang the art work for the buyer as a bonus free service. I know I will do it right and I really want the art to look it’s best. Please add comments of the things you bring when you hang a show. I’d also love to hear your nightmare stories of hanging art .

The List of Tools

Finally! Here is the list of tools to hang your art show

Your Art – Of course you have to bring your art but think about how you are going to transport it and keep it safe. Consider wrapping in polyethylene sheeting. Polyethylene won’t stick to the surface of a painting.

Inventory sheet – You should make a list of every artwork you are bringing to hang. Plan to bring a couple extra pieces of art if you can to give yourself options when hanging. The inventory sheet should have the title, size, date, medium and price for each piece.

Wall Tags – Print out clear wall stickers such as Avery Clear Shipping Labels. Use your inventory sheet to help. Set it up Title, your name, medium year, and price.  No need to put the dimension but don’t forget your name. Bring a few sets just in case you ruin one.

Postcards – You should have printed out postcards well before today. They should have a representative image and all your contact and social media info. Bring a stack to leave at the venue.

A way to take money – Sometimes people will want to buy your work before you are ready so be ready. Go ahead and have Vennmo and Square setup (or whatever method you are going to use) and be ready to take money just in case.

Your Tool Kit –

Here is a comprehensive list of tools that I always bring to hang an art show. You probably already have most of these but here are some affiliate links with suggestions for the ones you are missing.

  • Tool bag – you need a way to carry and organize your tool.
  • Bullet Level this is the best thing to level your paintings.
  • 4 Foot Level You may not need this if you have a laser level
  • Tac ‘n Stick use this in the corners of you pictures so it stays level
  • Calculator I think it is easer to use a dedicated calculator instead of my phone if possible
  • Blue painters tape If you put this on the wall before you start marking it will save you some clean up.
  • 5-in1 Tool sometimes you have to fix the wall yourself
  • Paint hopefully you won’t have to re-paint the whole place but see if you can get some touch up paint from the venue.
  • Dry wall screws These work fine in most cases but you may have to be creative.
  • Picture Wire Hopefully you have already wired your pictures but sometimes you will end up redoing it for one reason or another.
  • Step Ladder Maybe there is already one there but go ahead and bring your own too.
  • Drop Cloth Sometimes you will end up doing work that makes a mess but also it comes in handy as padding when packing the car.

Hammer you will probably only need a hammer to remove old nails.


Wire Cutters remember the picture wire

Awl This is useful for marking where to put a screw or starting a hole.

Utility knife You always need a utility knife

That should get you through most of the problems. Preparation eliminates future pain when you hang an art show.