The Business of Being an Artist
How To Get Your Work Into Art Galleries
One of the big questions on every artist’s mind is: how do I approach an art gallery with my artwork? This can be a tricky question since all galleries have different ways of finding new artists to add to their rosters. This article will give you some ideas on how to get the gallery attention your art deserves.
First off. Do your research. Find out what kind of art your target galleries generally show. Each gallery has aesthetic, style or medium preferences. Go to the gallery or their website, and see if your art fits. Make a list of the best venues for your artwork and target just those galleries.
Second, find out the gallery’s “submission policy.” For example, some galleries only reviews artist submissions each year for a specific time period. Some galleries may say they are not accepting any new artists at this time. Co-op galleries features artist members, with occasional openings to become a member. Some galleries have special areas that are available to consign artwork or they feature unrepresented artists selected through a jury process. Does a gallery only show local or regional artists or are they open to out of town artists?
All of this important information can usually be found on the gallery’s web site. Look for their “artist submissions” page. You may have to do a little digging to find it, but check these areas: Contact, Artists or About Us. Some may request a link to your web site, your resume or your bio. Some galleries may require slides, or JPGs on a CD via mail. Some galleries hate getting JPGs via email. Find out how they want to be approached and follow their guidelines.
So, what if you follow the guidelines with no results? Do not feel too disheartened. There are still other steps you can take to try to get a gallery to pay attention. Here are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of getting what you want.
Get to know the gallery. If the gallery is local, go visit, and do it frequently. Go to their openings, events or artist lectures. Meet the people who work at the gallery, and then go even further and build a relationship with them. Remember, even a gallery receptionist might be a good person to get to know. They have the ear of the gallery owner or director. Also, support the gallery. Buy some art, a book, some cards. Whatever your budget allows. Anything helps.
Watch your target galleries to see what sort of opportunities they have for artists. Perhaps they have special areas set up for new artists. Or, perhaps they will have a call for entries to juried shows. Entering juried shows is a great way to give the gallery a test run. You get to know them and how they operate and they get a chance to give your art a “test run” with their regular collectors. Watch for these opportunities and then jump on them.
Don’t bombard the gallery owner with emails. Don’t add them to your monthly email newsletter list without asking their permission first.
- Find out the name of the person you send should contact. Sending an email to “Dear Curator” or “Dear Gallery Owner” gets you right to the trash bin.
- Ask for the sale. If you do send an email, don’t say “here is my new painting.” That’s nice, but what do you want the gallery to do about it? Tell them if you are looking for feedback or for a show or whatever.
- Be seen and be heard, but don’t be annoying. Galleries are not going to work with artists they don’t like. If they get to know you and your charms, getting your art noticed is easier.
- Gallery folks are very, very busy. Most off all, respect their time.
If you follow these three steps, you will have a much easier time getting your artwork seen and your creative voice heard. Also remember to just keep trying, it may take persistence and perseverance, but eventually you will succeed.