Let’s be clear. This is a clear, no nonsense guide for artists on how to engage galleries. The main goal is to provide you with an instruction step-by-step to present your work professionally way and galleries will have confidence in selling your work. The guide does not specify the kind of artist you should be or what work you should create.
For gallery owners, much part of their time is spent in answering emails and conversing with artists who show up with this hopeful attitude. I’ve spoken to a few gallery directors and it is clear is that the vast majority of artists don’t understand what galleries are seeking or the way they work. What I find most surprising is that so many of these artists have taken an art degree but have no idea the first thing about approaching a gallery.
HOW DOES A GALLERY WORK?
Return or sale?
Many galleries will showcase your work on a return or sale basis. You send the work to the gallery to the gallery, they show it, and upon the sale of the work, the gallery will take a fee and will pay the rest. If the work doesn’t sell within the agreed time then it’s delivered to your. Simple.
Commissions vary from 20% up to 60 up to 60. Internet sites will offer the most affordable rates, however they have lowest overheads as well as most likely to sell your work. A client asked about what I doing to earn my X percent. You must understand that galleries take the risk of an artist. Owners put a huge amount of money and time to building the gallery, and if they don’t sell anything the gallery will close, and there is no more business. If you are an artist, you might need to invest some resources and time into your gallery but you must be sure that the risk is on the galleries shoulders.
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You should determine which galleries would be most suitable for your art. There’s no need to enter a graffiti studio if you create traditional-looking landscapes. Visit the gallery, just have a browse at their website and go through the additional content on the gallery to learn what kind of market it’s going to be targeting BEFORE you decide to do anything else. Don’t inform the gallery in your scout that you are an artist, as you may not be prepared.
Create your portfolio
All galleries want to see are your images. The amount of artists who come in and say they’re an artist, but do not have anything to show me is astonishing. A person who has no art eh? Perhaps worse than that is showing me via what you are showing on your mobile phone. Do you think an artist of professional standing would show something that valuable to their mobile phone?
Choose your Pictures
Select 4 or 5 images, which best represent your style and are the most commercially viable (sellable). Consider asking several people for their opinions on which photos you should submit. There is likely to be an agreement about your most successful work, which may be different from what you’d have selected.
Create your photos
Make sure the images are of high quality and not too large or too small (200k up to 1.5mb is sufficient). Make sure you capture digital images from your artwork in bright indirect sunlight. Crop them so that you’ve got the work and nothing else. If the work you’re working on has textures that aren’t apparent as clear in a straight ahead image, try an close-up from another angle.
If you own a website it is an advantage when it’s clear and simple to navigate. Web hosting companies like Mr Site offer very reasonably priced ways of getting an elegant and simple site that shows your work to the best of its ability.
Don’t email the link if there are images you’d like the gallery’s owner not see. Also don’t make excuses for it not being of the highest quality. Or, if you can, get it to scratch or don’t send the link.
Personally, I prefer to receive images via email. However, sending prints through the mail is an effective (if costlier) way of grabbing the interest of the gallery’s owner.
Do not bring your work into the gallery unless asked. This has happened before and is extremely awkward for me and the artist when I know within a matter of seconds if it is suitable as a gallery piece or not.
Make sure to write the e-mail or letter in a clear, succinct and professional way. I’ll only read a long e-mail if the pictures are of a good quality, but I really don’t want to read a life story.
Introduce yourself. Write a couple of sentences on your background.
Make sure you state your intention – This should be standard for anyone approaching a gallery. “I Frederick Blogs am looking for gallery representation and would like you to take a look at some of my work.”