By Nicole Tinkham
If getting your artwork in a gallery is the goal, there’s a few more things you’ll have to do other than just contacting every single gallery in the area. In fact, we are totally against doing this (read on to find out why). This isn’t a speedy process so you must take your time and be patient. Doing your research, networking, and following the rules for submission are all part of it and we’ll show you exactly what you need to do. Read on for 6 quick tips to getting your artwork in a gallery.
1. Pick and choose the galleries to approach
Don’t become so desperate that you reach out to every single gallery around trying to get your artwork in. Do the research and figure out what type of artwork is in the gallery first and if yours would be a good fit. Trust us, this will save you time in the long run! There’s no point in wasting your energy on a gallery that wouldn’t be interested in your style anyway. When doing your research, look at the type of artwork as well as pricing. Most of the time you can find this info right online so be sure to check out the gallery website. If a gallery states that they are not taking submissions at that time, move on and check back later. This means they are too busy to look over your work and you should respect their time.
Also build a relationship with that gallery. Sign up for their email list and attend events there. Really get to know the gallery inside and out and have a clear idea of what you can offer them. Show up to events often and start conversation (be sure to have business cards too!). This way you’re getting to know people on a personal level before doing business with them.
2. What to include in your submission
When you find the perfect gallery for your artwork, contact them and be sure to include the following:
• Your artist bio
• Your artist statement
• Your CV (or artist resume)
• Images of your artwork (have an extra set!). Be sure the images look professional meaning they’re cropped, straight, and don’t have any watermarks. It may be wise to invest in a photographer if you can’t do this yourself.
• Practice speaking about your artwork. Get really good and sharing your story and your experience. Some artists don’t like talking about their work and believe the work speaks for itself. However, we believe communication is key. You should be energetic and enthusiastic about your artwork. Make THEM excited about it too!
• Be sure to always follow the submission guidelines! This is so important so even if you’re a rule breaker, be sure to follow the rules in this case.
Bonus tip: When you’re reaching out to galleries, it does help to be introduced to the right people through a third party. If you personally know another artist in that gallery, this is the perfect opportunity to set up a meeting.
3. Be professional
Act as if your meeting with a gallery is a job interview! We mentioned above that your images need to be professional and that goes for you as well. Be on time and present yourself nicely. Be ready to talk about your background and your experience as an artist. Also have in mind how their gallery could help you sell your work. Note that after your meeting with the gallery you may have to wait a little while to hear back from them. Don’t repeatedly call and bug the gallery, just be patient!
Along with professionalism comes networking. Build your following either online or at networking events. We know these aren’t the most fun but they are essential to your business. Once you build a following, you can bring them to the gallery. Remember, you’ll have to work as hard as the gallery does to bring people into events.
4. Send a thank you note
We don’t care who you are or what business you’re in, a hand-written thank you note is always the way to go. Since hardly anyone writes notes by hand anymore, this will really make you stand out from the rest.
5. Handle rejection like a pro
Sometimes it’s simply not the right time. Don’t get hung up on if a gallery doesn’t accept your artwork. Here’s more on how to handle rejections.
Getting your artwork into a gallery is only as difficult as you make it. It’s not a quick and easy process but if you take your time on each step and really follow our suggestions, you’ll set yourself up for success. But also remember that it doesn’t always work out and that’s ok too. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe a certain gallery just isn’t right for you. You will find the right one so keep on trying! You are so incredibly talented; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Tell us, have you ever had your artwork in a gallery? How was the process? Please share your experience in the comments!