We recently discussed looking for as many opportunities as you can to earn a living using your creativity and to directly market you art. But of course most artists hope to get gallery shows and even representation, as they should. Here are some pointers when you are ready to approach galleries, and by ready I mean that you have all the basic marketing materials for yourself–a simple website with all of your written materials and images with detailed information.
– Get to know the galleries. Visit as many as you can and get a sense of what kind of art they show and if your work would fit with the aesthetic and focus of the gallery. If not you would be wasting your time submitting your work to them.
– Introduce yourself to the employees at galleries you would be interested in showing at. Find other artists that have exhibited with them and learn more about how they work. Attend as many events at the space as you can; staying active makes you more memorable.
– Do your research and find out how they prefer submissions to be sent in and what materials they require. Pay attention to the details so that you can edit anything you need to before sending it. Professional galleries that have an open submission policy should have detailed information on their website. Also make a note if there is a time of year that they accept submissions or if it is year round.
– If the galleries you are interested in have group shows submit work for them. If you can get one work in the gallery it could lead to more in the future.
– When you send your submission, personalize it to the curator and explain why you feel your work fits in the gallery, and what you bring to the table.
Do not send a mass email to all the galleries in your area with vanilla information.
Do not send emails to curators without ALL of the requested materials
Do not send a link to your website without anything else asking them to “check it out,” they won’t.
Do not take your portfolio into the gallery during an opening or without an appointment. Gallerists are very busy people and they don’t usually have time to review your work out of nowhere. Submission reviews can often take weeks, especially if they have a pile of them with you at the bottom.
Do not make threats or claims that express your ego–be humble in your approach. If you are approaching serious, successful galleries this type of behavior will get you blackballed from the community quickly.
As always, let us know if you need help developing your materials, formatting images, or organizing your submissions.