Posts Tagged ‘Gallery Search’

How To: Secure Gallery Representation

May 1, 2015 in Art,art education,Art Gallery,Artists,Hunter-Wolff Gallery | Comments (0)

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handshake2The decision to approach a gallery for representation is followed by hard work and too often 7 common mistakes. Making these mistakes can create disappointment, waste time, impede financial opportunity and, more importantly, could permanently hurt the chance to secure the best representation for your work.

These few steps can increase chances for representation with a gallery. It may be surprising how many doors will open when following some simple guidelines.  Just like applying for any job in the marketplace, one needs to be prepared and follow common etiquette. Don’t fall short on these areas:

  1. Appointment – First, visit a gallery in person. Study as much as possible about the gallery from their website or speak with some of the resident artists. Set up an appointment with the owner or hiring manager for discussion purposes. Never show up without an appointment if you want to be taken seriously.
  2. Follow-Up – Timing is always a factor. Follow-up with a second call if you are not successful the first time. After a call or meeting with a gallery, regardless of the outcome, be courteous and follow-up with a thank you for their time, words of encouragement or anything else that you took away from your meeting. Don’t be shy about asking if you can follow-up with the gallery in 3-6 months if you think it is a good match but maybe the timing is not right. It may not turnout the way you want but following up later may be the perfect time to be invited back.
  3. Answers – Like any job interview, be prepared to answer questions about your track record and demonstrate you are a reliable artist who is prepared to deliver what the gallery needs when they need it. They will want to know about your experience, sales history and commitment. Be ready to discuss how you might contribute to their bottom-line.
  4. Portfolio – Leave your work at home or in your car until you are asked for it. Deliver a portfolio of images of your best work and formatted in a binder and on a CD. The CD will be appreciated by the busy gallery owner. Label each image with a title, size, and medium and format large enough (4×5) to be clearly viewed. Busy galleries don’t have time to look at your life’s work; 15 examples are sufficient to determine a good fit. Keep it concise, consistent, informative and relevant and make it easy for review.
  5. Consistency – Each portfolio should exhibit a meaningful body of work. Illustrate your uniqueness, technique, style, and appeal, but be consistent. If you are an oil painter and excel at landscapes, showing pencil sketches of nudes or abstract watercolors because you enjoy that too aren’t necessarily helpful. Show only your most recent body of work and your best work. Include sold work to show you have a track record. Artists who work in different mediums should develop a portfolio based on one medium only. Create multiple portfolios but format each as a series of work based on only one medium. Be consistent–don’t confuse the gallery with your different styles and different mediums.
  6. Inventory – An artist with half a dozen pieces of work isn’t likely to be accepted into an active gallery. A viable partnership starts with a volume of work that allows galleries to swap out or replace work on a moment’s notice. Many successful artists have as many as 75 or more pieces in their inventory and are constantly creating fresh work. The gallery can’t sell what you don’t have. If you only create a few pieces a month, you may not be ready for a gallery relationship.
  7. Self-Esteem –  Successful artists are confident in their artistic ability, marketability and the salability of their work. If you have a positive attitude, high self-esteem and confidence in your work, you will have a better chance to advance beyond your first meeting.

Lastly, for artists with a special talent, getting a foot in the gallery door should be the easiest step to an exciting career. There are many circumstances that may prevent an invitation initially; such as, timing, space availability, genre fit, etc. An unprepared artist, however, can turn a perfect opportunity into a disappointment. There is no short-cut to securing good representation. But, the artist who prepares has the best chance of enjoying a long and rewarding relationship with the best representatives for their work.

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