Gallery Representation: Getting Your Foot In The Door

April 2, 2014 in Art Gallery,Artists,Development,Hunter-Wolff Gallery,Personal Development,Teaching | Comments (0)

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HWGshowroomHow does an artist find the best gallery representation? … Not perfect but best?  Like any relationship, it will be more satisfying if you search for the best scenario and not expect perfection. As a gallery owner, I advise artists to think about finding a gallery like looking for a job.  It is more productive to identify a few potential galleries and determine if you are a good match, then working hard to make it happen. If you have a good body of work and are ready, take the next step to make contact.

Keep in mind before taking that step, however, that there will be a time when things don’t go exactly as planned. Like any career, if you work long enough you will experience some downs with the ups—and may have to endure a difficult boss (or gallery) for a brief period. But I believe that the majority of time, business dealings are positive and that goes for gallery relationships too. It is counterproductive to let a few bad experiences color your beliefs and attitudes about gallery relationships—especially those rumored.  Remember, dealing with an art gallery is a business relationship and it takes two to tango! As in all cases, there are always two sides to a story so don’t put much stock into the tales (gossip) from a third party.  Some people are very good at pointing fingers and blaming others when things don’t work out.

You will benefit by taking time to scope out a gallery quietly.  Visit their website, read their newsletters, attend their events, talk to their artists and visit to observe how the staff conducts business.  You will learn a ton of information just by observing.  You want the gallery to work for you and the gallery wants you to work for them. Would you work for a company that was short on integrity or had a poor reputation?  Of course not. Nor would a gallery want “to hire” someone without integrity or commitment. Make sure your prospects are a good fit and your art could benefit or contribute to the gallery. Don’t overlook the fact that a gallery has its own personality and it should fit with yours. Then call or write for a personal interview with the decision maker (gallery owner). If you can’t find information on the gallery’s website about how their submission process works, be sure to ask.  Never show up without an appointment.  Be respectful of the gallery’s business hours and the staff’s time.

To prepare for your interview, be sure to complete your due diligence ahead of time and stick to the schedule the gallery sets up for your meeting. Be professional, dress appropriately and take examples of your best work or portfolio.  The gallery will have a list of questions for you, so you too should be prepared with answers about your track record and your own questions about their processes and programs.

If and when you are invited to join a gallery, work hard to meet the gallery’s expectation and don’t forget to ask them “what can I do?” to help with sales and promotion.  Like any relationship, it takes two working together to achieve a long and rewarding experience.

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