Give Galleries What They Want

You've done a lot of research to find galleries where your work fits, so don't blow the submission process. While there is no standardized format for submitting your portfolio to galleries, you can earn points by being professional from the get-go. Find out what the gallery wants and follow its wishes to a T.


Many galleries have submission guidelines on their websites, so check there first. If they aren't available (Did you check thoroughly?), pick up the phone and call. When someone answers the phone at the gallery, you say the following:

Hi, I'm Sandy Wooden. I'm calling to ask for your artist submission guidelines. I visited your website and didn't find any posted, but I want to be sure that I understand your preferences.

This brief introduction (1) puts your name in front of the gallery, (2) reveals that you did some research before you called, and (3) shows that you care about the gallery's wishes. These three things are key to building a professional relationship.

Paul Smedberg
Paul Smedberg, Trains of June. Photo assemblage.
©The Artist

By calling the gallery, you open the doors for another conversation. The gallerist might ask you about the type of work you do in order to better understand how you might fit with their current stable of artists. You should be prepared to discuss your art and “sell it” over the phone.

You could also email a gallery and build a professional relationship through online correspondence. By including a link to your website in your message, you might elicit interest and additional inquiry about your art. (Of course, you could also kill the dialog if there is no interest in your work, but you might as well find out early on in the game!)

With either the phone or the email approach, you run the risk of the gallery staff person saying that they aren't reviewing any new work at the moment. Fine! That's their loss. There is no need to be pushy. Respect their boundaries and move on.

KNOW THIS———-~> Each gallery has its own preference for reviewing artists' work.

THINK ABOUT THIS—~> Are you communicating effectively with potential galleries?

DO THIS————~>Give galleries what they want. Many galleries are barely hanging on in this recession, which makes competition stiff. Fewer galleries=fewer artists in galleries. There isn't much room for error. You must behave professionally in every way.

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