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5 things you need to know about creating a successful degree show.

“A lot of hard work goes into a successful show but if you get it right it can create fantastic opportunities.” – Hazel Watts, Director Spectrum Photographic



Student exhibition at Free Range, 2018. Sponsored fine art photographic printing | Spectrum Photographic
Installation view from the exhibition ‘Collaborate, Photoworks X Free Range’, 2018. Photo: Zoltan Borovics.

We share our five key pieces of advice on producing an effective exhibition and making the most from your degree show, keeping your quality high and your costs low. Read our tips below along with information on our series of University talks, and how to use the Spectrum Student discount.

Mark Out Your Timeline

Work backwards from your install date and mark out your deadlines. This will help give you a proper overview of what is needed for production of your show. It will also help you identify when every element of the work should be completed to ensure each phase runs smoothly. When working with a professional lab like Spectrum make sure to ask about lead times, as seasons get busy (i.e. during degree show times) turnaround times may be longer – services like framing and giclée printing can take longer during busy periods.

Work Within Your Budget

When budgets are tight for exhibitions it can be difficult to see how you’re going to make your vision a reality. There are also a lot of small costs involved in producing a degree show that can add up – things like delivery or extra prints of your project. However, there are a variety of options for you to display your work without compromising on quality, from alternative papers and self-adhesive vinyl to different mounting services.

Test Everything

What you see on a digital screen rarely transfers like-for-like on a physical medium, colours and tones can vary depending on which print process you choose and which paper or medium it’s produced on. Testing doesn’t just stop at test prints, it’s also important to test how the work looks in your allocated space, how the light flows and how people will view and move around your work. Try not to leave it until the install day to put the pieces together, you may need to curate the work within your space differently or produce the work in a different way. So testing buys you time to change and offers you better informed decisions on your production.

Be Flexible And Open Minded

Sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond your initial vision for your degree show, especially when working to a deadline with a budget. Take advice from your peers, lecturers or other artists, who will be able to give you fresh perspectives on your display plans. Understanding how others see your work will give you an insight into how the public and industry might view your display during the degree show. It’s great to know exactly what you want, but don’t be afraid to experiment with some alternative options.

University Talks with Spectrum

Spectrum offers live online talks that cover practical and professional advice on planning and preparing for degree shows. Topics like budgets, deadlines, test prints and marketing are discussed in more detail and students can ask specific questions on production, costs and install logistics. To book a talk for your year group just call us on: 01273 708222.

For more information on how we could help you create your dream degree show, and to register for your 20% student discount, visit