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Secrets to Gallery Representation

Secrets to Gallery Representation

Amy Wilson

You’ve created a body of work and now you’re itching to get it out there and seen by the public. You’d like to be represented by a commercial gallery, but how do you get them to notice you?

First things first: Make a list of a few – three or four – galleries you’d be interested in working with. Bear in mind that all galleries have a “program” – an agenda of sorts, and not all galleries are right for all artists. One space may work exclusively with abstract painters while another works with realistic sculptors, so find a place where your work will reasonably and realistically fit. An important thing to think about is at what point the other artists in the gallery are in their career. If the majority of the artists in the gallery are fresh out of art school (you can find this out by looking online at artist’s bios) and you’re an established artist, another gallery might a better fit.

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Secondly, make sure you have your work together.

Don’t pursue an art gallery the second you’ve finished the first painting in a series, instead wait until you have a substantial body of work. This way the gallery will have a clear idea of who you are as an artist. Have your work photographed and put together an organized website – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just so your portfolio can be reviewed by someone who is interested. Start by creating a portfolio on ArtBistro!

That’s all groundwork you have to do before you even think about approaching someone. Assuming that’s done, you can now start thinking about how to get the gallery interested in you.

Invite

One of the most important steps you can take as an artist is add the Director of each of your top galleries to your mailing list. It sounds so simple, but this is a very basic and important step in creating awareness.

Organize an open studio or, join fellow artists in a pre-established open studio. Many communities have a day in which a few dozen or more artists all open their doors together. Either way, invite the galleries to see your work. All you need to send is a simple note along with the invitation (or a personalized email) – nothing pushy, or over-the-top. Just a few words to say that you like their program, feel there’s a connection between the work they show and the work you create, and your name. Best to keep it quick and polite.

If they don’t show up, don’t be discouraged. Try again during your next How Do Artists Make Money?">open studio. Also, it’s a good idea to keep them on your mailing list. This way you’ll keep them aware of all future professional accomplishments. Be persistent, but strike a balance between coming on too strong and making your presence known. Always remember to be informative while still respectful and professional in your correspondence.

Next: Network →


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