Read This Before You Approach Another Gallery!
I have a pet peeve—and, in speaking with other gallery owners, I am not alone. The problem? Artists of all levels of talent and experience don’t know how to approach galleries. It’s a rampant annoyance in our industry, and one issue that is easily solved.
I’m going to give you some solid advice, but let me first share a story of a day in my gallery.
Last month I was working with a long-time collector and was distracted by another gallery guest who wanted to see works by a different artist. He seemed interested! Maybe this would be a new collector!
The second guest asked me to pull out pieces by another artist who was not being exhibited at the time. I proceeded to do just that—showcasing the works, changing the lighting, all while trying to give attention to my other collector. It’s not easy to give my full attention to two clients.
Halfway through my presentation to the “new collector,” he mentioned he was an artist and was interested in showing at my gallery. Huh? Really? Are you kidding me? By this time, the first collector was out of the door, and I had lost a potential sale “selling” to this artist.
Now, do you think I’d have any interest in ever showing this artist’s work? Absolutely not. He has zero chance with my gallery.
Before a gallery can sell your work, you need to sell yourself to the gallery. And by this, I don’t mean bombarding the poor director with constant calls and visits. I mean selling yourself as a well-prepared, organized, and gifted artist.
The best way to approach (or “sell”) yourself to a gallery is to find out how they want to be approached. Simple. But most artists don’t do this because it takes time and requires work.
Don’t be like most artists. Do the work!
Visit galleries to discover where you will be a good fit, and research before you submit yourself. Are you a watercolorist specializing in wildlife images? You’re probably not the best fit for a Russian Realism gallery.
Do your homework. It’s worth it for you and your eventual gallery. It will save time and energy, and probably preserve your ego.
Every gallery owner likes a different “sell.” Some only accept submissions once a year, while others have “rolling,” or constant, submissions. Some don’t accept submissions at all.
The best place to locate a serious gallery’s artist submission guidelines is on their website. Before you call or email to ask, check out their site and look for these guidelines. If you present yourself to the gallery according to their preferences, you’re already one step ahead.
After you’ve discovered the way that the gallery wants to be approached, follow their guidelines.
About the Guest Blogger
Maren Bargreen is owner of Gallery MAR, in Park City, Utah, and was honored as Park City’s Business Woman of the Year in 2009. Gallery MAR features fine contemporary art spanning from detailed still life works to abstracted landscapes and whimsical figurative pieces.