Many artists aren't sure where to start when it comes to galleries. They may feel intimidated and unsure of just how to approach one in a professional manner so that they can begin showing their work in a gallery setting. These 6 steps will give you direction so you can start submitting and showing with confidence!
1. Portfolio Review
The first thing an artist must do is a self-critique. Galleries are looking for artists with a consistent body of work that shows direction and a unique vision.
Have, at minimum, 12 pieces you have had professionally scanned or photographed that you can submit in high resolution that show distinctions and a developed style.
2. Develop and Maintain an Online Presence
Have an active website and social media pages that you regularly maintain. You have a higher likelihood of being accepted into a gallery when curators see you have active followers, fans, and collectors.
3. Conduct Research
Does the gallery you're interested in working with show your genre of work? It is much more difficult for a gallery to succeed in selling your work if it does not fit their audience. Look for galleries whose audience aligns with yours.
If the galleries you are interested in showing in are local to you, attend their shows regularly. Introduce yourself to collectors, other artists, and curators. But take note, DO NOT approach an owner or curator to give a sales pitch during these times and never any other time unannounced. Genuinely be present to get to know those in your industry and things will naturally fall into place.
If the galleries you are interested in are not local to you, follow them on social media. Be active on their pages and regularly leave genuine likes and comments. Never underestimate the opportunities of networking. You never know when a gallery is looking for a new artist and someone you've introduced yourself to may bring up your name!
Many galleries offer calls to artists for specific showings via their websites and social media pages. Follow the instructions given by each gallery and never waiver. One of the biggest turn-offs for galleries is an artist who displays they cannot follow instruction right off the bat.
Some galleries have submission forms on their websites where an artist can submit their work and the gallery will contact them, when and if they are interested.
6. Handling Rejection
Rejection will happen and it will happen more often than acceptance. Do not let this discourage you. Sometimes a "no" is a "no" and sometimes it's just means, "not right now." It is not uncommon to not hear back from a gallery. Galleries are busy and they oftentimes do not respond to artist submissions. It's oftentimes because they are busy and as a practice, do not respond if not interested. For others, they may be so busy, they simply forget, even if they do have interest.
The best practice an artist can have is to contact a gallery in 7-10 business days after submission. Let them know that you recently submitted your work for review and are interested not only in their gallery, but any constructive feedback they may be willing to give. You may not hear back, or you may be lucky enough to hear helpful feedback for future submissions.
Note that just because an artist is given a "no," or simply no response, doesn't mean they shouldn't try submitting again at a later date. Consider if what you have to offer is of the right quality and subject matter for the gallery you are interested in, and if so, submit again in 6 months. Sometimes, an artist needs to develop their skills, consistency, and direction further before being considered. Or, maybe the timing just isn't right for the gallery to consider an artist's work, but it could be down the road. Take these things into consideration, but never take "no" as defeat.
©Becca Basic, LLC Becca Basic is an artist who's passionate about helping other creatives learn the business skills to live their dreams.
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