• Galleries: My Guide – An Introduction

Galleries: My Guide – An Introduction

This is number one in my a series of art blogs titled “Galleries: My Guide”. I hope these will be a teaching tool of sorts and offer a starting point.

I know that this is subjective, but I wanted to share my 17+ years of experience and knowledge. My method of contacting galleries has significantly changed since my first approach in 2002. At first, I created a CD of my work which included a basic, poorly written artists CV Word document. I sent this CD through the post to over 200 galleries and I received a handful of replies… one no and one yes. I tried to focus on the reply I received saying yes and this was a starting point for me. It is hard and a steep learning curve which has taken me a huge amount of hit and miss, something which took me a long time to develop.

Over time you will build and learn your own way, but my aim is that this is a good starting point for you….

Tip Number 1: My saying always applies “…what is the worse they can say…no!?!?!?!”

I have realised that unless you ask and apply you will never know. I will never give up, so go for it!!

Tip Number 2: You will not always get a reply or message!

The fact is most galleries will not reply. This is nothing personal to you or your work, it is just something to expect. As many galleries receive dozens of approaches each day, they do not have the time to contact you. It is the fact that time is money. The others may contact you saying they have “reviewed your work and it is not suitable” or “a maybe later” or “we will keep your work in file”.

Tip Number 3: Did you check if they are open to or accept artist submissions?

There are a large amount of galleries that say if they are *not* accepting any artist submissions at the moment or state the date or month they are opening for them. I also see the term “we do not accept unsolicited applications” on a huge amount of gallery websites. This is a fact that you must honour their wishes. My theory is… why waste your time?

Tip Number 4: Find out the correct name of the contact person?

You are applying to specific person(s) for consideration, so find out their name(s). This is simple to find out and demonstrates that you have taken the time to read about the gallery. I also believe that you should take the time to spell their names(s) correctly. There are millions of artists around the world and galleries will not work with any artist who is rude or difficult. It takes time and energy the gallery needs to put into selling art.

Tip Number 5: An artist submission is an artist job interview, so think about manners in order to make a good impression.

I would always aim to make a polite, formal approach just as you would be in a job interview and how you would be if you worked with them. I try to avoid writing a standardised contact email as I think it can sound robotic, almost like an automated reply large companies send you.

I think there are a few key points in my message, whilst not waffling on:

1. Your personal impression of the gallery in a formal language (e.g. I felt that my work would fit due to your specialism in jewellery)

2. Mention how you found them (e.g. through a fellow artist)

3. Thank them for their time

Tip Number 6: Tailor Your Approach

I think that galleries do not want to see artwork from artists who do not fit into their gallery’s identity/ exhibition call out. My way round this is to tailor or personalise your approach to each gallery. This may sound a lot of time to invest in each gallery; however, it is worth every minute and I get more responses, even if it is what I would call a “sorry, but no” polite reply. This is a good way forward to reduce your “no” answers.

Tip Number 7: Do you have an Artists CV, including a concise artist statement?

It might be thought that an artist CV is the same as a general job type CV, but an artist CV is specialist.

It needs to be:

• Professional

• Spell and Grammar checked

• Focussed on your art

• Concise

• Contains an artist statement

There is a clear definition between a statement and biography, so do you home work. I have found a number of pages who offer excellent advice and this Artplus page explains how to write one:



Tip Number 8: Follow any guidelines they give for artist submissions?

If the gallery takes the time to give you guidelines for artist submissions, make sure you follow them. If you put yourself in the place of the gallery, you yourself wouldn’t want to be sent numerous, large image files. Galleries also rely on their in house or mobile internet connection, so download amount is an important consideration. I can annoy the gallery and make a bad first impression. Always consider the following with each artist submission:

• How many images to send

• The required size or dpi of each image

• How many images to send

• If they want an artist CV sent. I make sure my CV is sent as a PDF to reduce the file size

Tip Number 9: Build An Online Portfolio Of Your Art

This is great if you use an online form to contact a gallery and will mean you do not need to send image files.

Tip Number 10: Find Out What Works For You…

I can offer these tips, but you know your art, personality and time is the best tool.

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

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