What I Learned at My First Art Show as an Artist

I recently attended my first art show – not in one of my usual roles as press and/or buyer – but as an actual artist whose work was on display. I submitted my photography to the 53rd Annual Newport Beach Art Exhibition almost on a whim: my brother, who’s an artist, sent the submission link to me thinking I’d like to go in order to meet artists and interview them for my art blog, TreeHouse Arts, which is something I do fairly often. He said he would be submitting some of his own work and for some reason this time I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll do the same.”

When my work was accepted I was surprised, delighted, and a bit confused on what I needed to do. The committee sent plenty of pre-show emails that answered most of my questions about the process, but here are a few things I had to figure out on my own:

1. Whatever amount you think you should price your work at, double if not triple it. Consider the cost of printing, framing, materials, and labor. That goes for selling your art in general: I get that it can be difficult to come up with a figure that seems fair, but whatever you do don’t haggle your prices with buyers or give away insane discounts to your friends. Doing so devalues not only your own work, but art as a whole. If you never seem to sell anything and constantly hear your work is too expensive, then lower your prices, but if not: slam a number on it and stick with it.

2. If your work is being judged, don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that aspect of the show. Art is subjective and most of the time you’ll never agree with who won what prize or how and you know what? It doesn’t matter. You’re there to meet fellow art lovers, get your name out there, and maybe sell a piece or two in the bargain – focus on that.

3. Spend as much time as possible chatting up the other artists because most of them have been working the circuit for decades and have all of the info you’ll ever need about the entire scene. And they also know some really good art gossip, if you’re into that.

4. Study the other works: snap pictures and scribble down notes. It’s amazing what you can learn about your own art just by studying someone else’s creations.

5. Your frame matters: I would never have guessed what a good frame can do to a piece of art. Some of the most mundane pieces I’ve ever seen spring to life with the right frame surrounding them. I guess that’s the reason custom frame work is so expensive.

6. Bring plenty of business cards and make sure they look super awesome. In the creative arts industry, even the business cards are mini Picassos.

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Cheers to the Creative Progression of Beer Label Art

A while back, I was at a microbrewery with some friends when I noticed the labels on our independent (or craft, depending on who you ask) beers were actually mini works of art and kind of amazing. In fact, the images were interesting enough that I started researching the beer label design market and discovered beer art is a whole thing: there are articles calling out the top ten best designs, entire blogs devoted to the topic, and a book for sale on Amazon with over 200 color illustrations. Heck, even the Brewers Association is now getting involved in censoring the industry to make it more diversified.

It’s no wonder, really, when you think about it: with how popular the craft beer industry has become it makes sense that brewers need to find a way to compete with one another, and what better way to do that than through the first thing potential drinkers see?

I started to create my own list of “best beer label art,” but soon realized it would be near impossible for me to cut it down to a specific number. With that in mind, below you’ll find a list (in no particular order) of breweries that produce some of my favorite labels and a few of the artists they collaborate with to create them. Bottoms up, y’all!

Image Credit: Emrich Office


  1. Grimm Brothers Brewhouse: Loveland, Colorado
  2. Beachwood Brewing: Long Beach/Huntington Beach/Seal Beach, California
  3. Bottle Logic Brewing: Anaheim, California
  4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery: Milford, Delaware
  5. Barley Forge Brewing Company: Costa Mesa, California
  6. Clown Shoes Beer: Ipswich, Massachusetts
  7. La Cumbre Brewing Company: Albuquerque, New Mexico
  8. Indeed Brewing: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  9. Smog City Brewing: Torrance, California
  10. Surly Brewing Company: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  11. Toppling Goliath Brewing Company: Decorah, Iowa


Image Credit: Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
  1. Josh and Katie Emrich (Bottle Logic labels)
  2. Chuck U (Indeed labels)
  3. Ryan Cochran (Smog City labels)
  4. Tara McPherson (Fort and Chateau Jiahu labels)
  5. Jon Langford (Dogfish Head labels)
  6. Brandon Gallagher Watson
  7. Lamar Sorrento


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