Coffee shops a welcoming venue for art

For artists looking to market their work, a local coffee shop might be a good starting point.

For artists looking to market their work, a local coffee shop might be a good starting point.

You’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop, sipping on a latte, taking delight in the quaint atmosphere of the privately owned café. As you indulge in your caffeinated beverage, you notice how bare the walls of this little coffee shop really are, and being a creative individual, you become uneasy with the fact.Picture 1

This is your coffee shop. You know everyone on a first name basis. You make it a habit to say, “Hi,” to the owner every day you come in. And the décor is lacking? No sir, this cannot be. And as an artist, you won’t allow it.

If you find yourself in a situation like the one I proposed, you can help.

Jazz up your favorite spot and reap the benefits that come with having your artwork displayed publically by getting your name out there as an artist and using the space provided by these small coffee shops.

Offering to hang some of your artwork at your favorite café seems simple. And as long as you’re willing to do the set-up, most little coffee and tea places are willing to compromise, especially if you’re one of their better-known customers. This simple beginning may be your first step in becoming a successful fine artist.

There are no formal steps to making your inquiry. There are the obvious rules (be polite, ask a few weeks in advance, provide your own set up, etc.), but the only way to successfully have your work shown is to be persistent and passionate in your goal.

If the café is new to the idea of having student work on their walls, be prepared to give strong, valid reasons why your work could improve the overall atmosphere of the shop. Note your specific style, color schemes and prices of your pieces, along with their sizes and where you think they could be placed.

Your main goal is to “sell” your pieces, so to speak, so it’s better to be over-prepared when working with places new to the idea.

If and when you get the OK to show your stuff, there are a few final tasks that’ll help your simple display allow the professional artist in you to shine.

Matting your pieces is a must. Whether you mat them with some kind of white board or go all-out on a homemade frame or one purchased to fit the piece, some sort of sharp, framed edge always gives a professional look.

Stretcher bars and artistic executions are to be handled differently, of course, but remember that clean, sharp and neat convey a positive attitude to the viewer.

Take the time to make display cards, with your name, title of the piece, as well as the medium used to finish the work and possibly the date completed. Business cards with your contact information may be an option as well – you never know when a “big name” gallery owner could appear in your coffee shop.

Other coffee and tea shops showcase artists’ work on a monthly basis, such as the Bean Café on South Street. The Bean displays solely work of artists in Philadelphia, and with its Web site and convenient location, the artist of the month can earn some publicity. This café, like others that showcase artwork of students and local artists, also provides prices for the artwork if any visitors should ask about purchasing a displayed work.

Not only will hundreds of coffee and tea lovers see your work, but you could possibly make some money in the process.

A friend of mine from Lancaster sold a few works in a coffee house in the city and with commission, came out with a pretty good profit for her endeavors. More importantly, she had the chance to get her name out there as a graphic artist.

Nicole Welk can be reached at

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