How to Create a Gallery Display

... well, how I did it. These were the results of our labor..

The rules were that we couldn't tape or nail anything on the walls because the display was happening in a historic (gorgeous) church. So I had a 7x7 foot space to work with and display my photos. They gave us the idea of using a large piece of wood to nail our photos on and that is ALL I needed to get my brain fired up.

STEP 1 // Plan the design.

My original idea was to cover the wood with newspaper/book-pages then draw frames with coral paint for a nice pop. Funk + Classic/Editorial... remember, Kate Middleton and Gwen Stefani? ;) I wanted onlookers to feel like they were walking into a piece of my studio/office (i.e. consistent branding). And suddenly, that's when the chalkboard idea hit me. What if I painted the wood with chalkboard paint and drew the frames with chalk? That would be like displaying my website in person. I asked Jose and some friends, and they all loved the chalkboard idea.

See, this is us at Home Depot picking out the wood. Jose can foretell this is going to be a painful weekend...

STEP 2 // Shop with inspiration.

I took this picture with me to ALL the vintage stores. It made me shop very specifically. I wasn't replicating it, but when I picked an item up, I would ask myself "will this contribute to the design I have in mind?"

STEP 3 // Design!

I'm not even going to tell you how ridiculous this was. You see, we only had the weekend to do this -- but if you are considering doing this... DO NOT USE SPRAY PAINT! Why the heck were we using it? Because chalkboard paint takes 3 days to handle. We didn't have 3 days. Chalkboard spray paint only took 24 hours, but there were some ugly moments in between.

Anyway. We Jose finished the chalkboard and then I laid out my design on it, including the antlers as a centerpiece on the frame and scrap wood from Home Depot to use as shelves (painted in coral).

Jose created templates for the photos with cardboard because this man does not fool around with straight lines.

I found hand drawn frames online and we used those as inspiration for our own frame design.

STEP 4 // Use your resources!

People feel they are limited by money and can't create anything unique. Not true! I called friend and stylist Alex Evjen from AVE Styles to borrow Alexis -- her mannequin. Those things are not cheap and it is a beautiful prop. I also contacted Butter Toast Boutique and she lent me some vintage gowns. Although I didn't end up using them because I didn't trust the chalk on the board against the fabric, I still had the option. Other places let you rent items too, or you can offer to place their business cards on your gallery if they sponsor you with furniture. Make it work.

STEP 5 // Stylize

But stick to YOUR style! Reflect your business. Public displays should always be an opportunity to carry out your branding and tell people more about who you are. You don't have to have antlers, and chalkboards, and mannequins. Just remember the love you pour into something will become an investment. Is it worth it?

So we set up and felt so blessed that it all came together in the end. Again, my husband poured so much love into this with me.

I completely forgot to take pictures when the gallery occurred! I'm mid-way through blinking, but Jose got this when the night was almost over..

And I am forever grateful for the support and love from my amazing friends. Shout out to Nick and Jeff for hauling that wood through our building's elevator! We are some lucky people.

Phew. And that's that!

Cost of wood = ~$35
Cost of spray paint (6 cans) = ~$30
Vintage store total (accessories, including antlers! :) = ~$50
IKEA funky branch lamp = $40

Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. Just use what you have and dream big... it'll all work out :)