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Get Your Work in an Art Gallery & Sell It

Get Your Work in an Art Gallery & Sell It

Rhonda Schaller | ArtyShark

Now, the advantages of being a self-produced artist can include:

• Control over your exhibitions and what work you show and where • Tailoring your market message for your style and changes in style • Ongoing dialog that can support your work with alternative or fringe folk • Not sharing the proceeds of sales and choosing your price point • Deciding how often you want to show • Not being locked into one space or one city or one style • Independence in creative direction and installation freedom • Being your own boss and an entrepreneur

The disadvantages:

• Having to work at creating, promoting, marketing, funding, etc.. • Creating a marketing plan and sticking to it • Sustaining a creative business on your own initiative • Maintaining your studio practice day to day • Handling the finances, budgets, sales tax • Being your own boss and an entrepreneur

Both have advantages, both have disadvantages. I hate being told what to do, so I love being a self-produced artist. I have loved being a gallerist (non-traditional) and choosing the artists I promote. The key for me has always been control of the message, control of the medium. You have to find what works for you.

If you choose the commercial gallery route, what NOT to do:

Stop sending unsolicited jpegs and slides to hundreds of galleries that you do not know. Stop sending unsolicited emails with jpegs. Stop sending unsolicited packets in the mail. Stop going into galleries with a CD or your portfolio in hand and asking them to look at it, and being insulted when they say no. STOP. STOP. STOP. They will not discover you that way, believe me – I know.

When I had my brick and mortar gallery on West 27th street in Chelsea, I would get 1000 unsolicited submissions via email every year. I still get them, and I have moved my gallery to an online format. I DELETE THE UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS. Not because I am mean, I am a motivator, a gallerist who loves emerging artists and helping others. You can read what some of the artists I have worked with have said at Linkedin (click on “view profile” to read the recommendations).

I will not look at unsolicited work unless I have posted a call for submissions on my gallery website, and neither will most other dealers I know. Why? Because they are busy positioning the other artists they have already made a commitment to work with. When I have the time to look at art work form artists I do not know, I state it up front. Then, I look, I comment, I curate, life is good.

Most artists send out unsolicited emails with urls and jpegs hoping a dealer will see how wonderful they are and discover them. But you must be more targeted in your approach if you want a dealer to really consider your work. Know who you are the right fit for, and who is accepting submissions.

You should choose the gallery that’s right for you by carefully studying their curatorial ideas and exhibition program to make sure it is a good match for your work.

Do not send submissions to a gallery that you have never even been to. Visit the gallery many times during the season, look at different shows they host to make sure their curatorial style is the right fit for your work. Visit their website and review the shows they curate, and the lists of artists they have exhibited. How do you compare? Style, level of success, medium, etc… Is the gallery accepting submissions at this time? You must know this in advance, before sending your “ I am an artist looking for representation” email, if you want to seriously be considered for a show.

So, here are the steps I would suggest you take first, in this order, before sending out all of those mass emails to the hundreds of galleries on your mailing list:

Find this helpful? Read MORE about building a successful art career here!

Sources: Schaller. R. “Art Work After Art School”. School of Visual Arts, Office of Career Development. (student handout and guide) 2009.
Winkelman. E. “Advice for Artists Seeking Gallery Representation”. edward_winkelman: art, politics, gossip, tough love. (Internet/blog) 03 Feb. 2009. http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com/ (20 Jan. 2010).

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