M E Fuller

Week 16. How to approach art galleries to show your work.

Is there an art to it?

I do not have my artwork in a gallery.  I’m still slogging away on my first novel. Until that is in the hands of beta readers, it consumes my every day, and I don’t have free time enough to begin developing a basic concept for a show. But I’ve made a few tentative inquiries and I’ll share here, the little I know. Maybe we’ll get some gallery owners to share their insights with us.

Review.

Last week I detoured into the realm of possibilities. No matter what we’re focused on, it’s so important to remember that all of everything exists first, as a possibility. It’s true with objects and relationships, feelings and thoughts. I recommend a daily dose of meditation on possibilities. Ohm.

What are galleries looking for?

Galleries are not only looking to support talent, they’re looking to stay in business. That means they need an inventory of work that will sell. As creative artists, we like to be free to create and not be bound by formula or consistencies in concept. We don’t generally aim to be production artists, producing the same thing in the same style, over and over. That’s fine if you don’t want to exhibit in a gallery. You can sell your work online, in gift shops, and to interior design studios. There are lots of outlets for art sales.

But, if you want to exhibit in a gallery, and grow a following for your work as a known and respected artist, then you need to be identifiable as THAT artist – the one whose work we do know and recognize. For that, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Eddie Hamilton artwork

There’s no mistaking Eddie Hamilton artwork

Presenting the work.

  1. Create a body of work – at minimum, 20 gallery-ready pieces – that is consistent in
    1. use of media
    2. technique
    3. style
    4. theme
    5. presentation

And be prepared to show a concept portfolio of your “next in the series” work in process.

  1. Presentation to the gallery for consideration

Regardless of the format you use for your presentation – digital or tangible representation (photo) – each of the 20 or so pieces you are proposing for an exhibit must include:

Title   /    Media   /    Size   /    Price

Put a well-designed, but brief, bio at the end, supported by any news clippings about you as an artist or the work (limit to 2). Don’t overwhelm. If the gallery wants more information, they’ll ask you for it. If you have sold any of the series pieces, include that information along with at least one image of an installed piece if you’ve got one.

Do not overlook the value of a well-presented body of work. If you need help covering the costs of framing or containers or stands or what-have-you to present your work in the best way possible, contact you local arts organizations about available grants to cover these costs.

Research.

Now you have a portfolio, who are you going to show it to? Research galleries who consistently represent artists with themes or styles that are similar to yours. They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t know their buying audience, so find galleries that appear to be a good fit with your work. Look online. Here’s a terrific resource to get you started: http://art-collecting.com/index.htm and also check in your town, city, region, and state directories. Oh, and don’t forget to contact your local arts organizations. They may have gallery space for members. It’s a great way to get your foot – er, artwork – in a gallery door.

The approach.

Know the gallery’s guidelines for proposals before even thinking about making a personal visit.  Every gallery will have its own artist selection process for exhibitions and there are many artists, equally talented, in line for consideration, ahead of you.

Don’t be discouraged.

Gallery exhibit schedules can be 2 or 3 years out, so keep your eye on the prize and not on the calendar. Also, keep a record of who you’ve approached and which portfolio of work you presented. If you get that call, you’re going to want to know, right away, which series they want.

Just a few other resources.

http://art-support.com/exhibitions.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Your-Art-Into-a-Gallery

http://reddotblog.com/how-galleries-select-artists-how-galleries-work-2/

Creative prompt.

My body of work is…

Next week’s topic:  Art presentation.  See you back here next Sunday night!

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