Have you ever wanted to know just what it takes to get into an art gallery? I get asked about this all the time, and in this article, I have three tips, straight from a local gallery director, that will help you get your art ready for submission to a reputable gallery.
As many of you know, I have been transitioning out of my River Arts District studio, where I have been for the last ten years, into a private and not open to the public studio. As a part of this move, I am starting to sell my work through galleries again.
I was making a delivery the other day, and I had the opportunity to talk to the director and their staff. I shared with them that one of the big questions that I get all the time from the members of my Created to Thrive Artists Mentoring program is, "Matt, how do I get into a really reputable gallery?"
Of all the things they shared about what to do and what NOT to do when seeking gallery representation, the following three things really stuck out as vital to artists wanting to sell their work through a reputable gallery.
Follow the Procedures
I know that might seem like a "Duh! Everybody follows the procedures!" But not everybody does! In fact, too many artists just show up at the gallery and ask, "How do you be an artist in this gallery," or another favorite question, "Can you just look at my work on my phone?"
Listen! Any reputable gallery has got a process, often found on their website. It will detail when they are looking at work, how to submit it, and the time frame in which they'll get back with you. If you research a gallery you are interested in and can't find their submission process online, then reach out with a call or email asking how they would like for you to submit work for their consideration.
The critical thing to remember here is that every gallery has procedures, and they all want you to follow them; why, you wonder? It's because if they are a reputable gallery, they are a busy gallery, and following their procedures shows a gallery owner that:
Always remember that a gallery isn't just someone who shows off your artwork from time to time. They are going into business with you. When a gallery accepts your work, they partner with you to distribute your art to the world. So, it's vital that you follow their procedures at the beginning of what can be a very fruitful relationship.
This kind of goes without saying, but it was one of the key "what NOT to do" things the gallery staff shared with me. They told me, "If all of our artists would be like you, Matt! You are actually on time. You were here when you said you were going to be, and you have your paperwork!"
Here's a Pro Tip for getting an art gallery director and staff to love you and your work: Make it easy to do business with you. It starts with things like:
Do this, and they will have a great feeling about you and your work. And when the gallery owner and the gallery staff feel good about you and your work, they are much, much, much more willing to talk to clientele about what you do creatively, both to sell pieces and to refer clients back to you for commissioned work.
Make Great Artwork
Again, I would hope this would seem obvious, but too many people just don't seem to get this. You've got to be making great work for a gallery to take you seriously. You may be a great marketer, but if you create sub-standard pieces that are not desirable in the marketplace, then you can't expect the gallery to get excited about what you do.
While you're out there looking for a reputable venue to represent your work, owners are looking for artwork that will enhance their art gallery's reputation. I share these concepts often, both in this blog and on my Thriving Christian Artist and 5-Minute Mentoring Podcasts, about:
Investing in yourself and your art is the path towards creating high quality, unique art that will be prized and appreciated in the marketplace.
When you do these three things, I promise that you will make friends and influence gallery owners quickly. You'll be set apart from so many other artists in the Marketplace who may be great at what they do, but they aren't making it easy for a gallery to do business with them.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend, share on social media and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.