You’ve been working on your masterpieces for years, displayed them on social media with great feedback from your followers. You now want to make that next step in showing your immediate (or international) community your art work. Maybe you want to increase the visibility of your art to a specific group or clientele, or maybe you just want to drum up some sales. We think ultimately, as artists, we all love to be paid for our work so that we can buy supplies to create even more! If the aforementioned scenarios described you in any way, we’ve put together five tips on what you need to do to get your artwork featured in an art gallery.
Prepare an Artist’s Bio
We know, we know – you’re an artist, not a writer. However, an artist bio is a crucial piece of your portfolio. It is the information that will give gallerists an introduction to you and your work. We suggest that you have one prepared prior to approaching any art gallery. An artist bio will specifically tell the gallerist about your body of work, the medium with which you work, among other things. If you struggle to write your artist bio, reach out for help from someone who has experience in writing bios. Or if you feel confident in writing your own, do your research in the do’s and don’ts of preparing an artist’s bio.
Do Your Research!
Research galleries in the specific community/city that you are interested in having your artwork displayed. There are some galleries that specialize in the type of art they choose to exhibit in their gallery by subject matter, style or medium. For instance, a photography fine art gallery may not be interested in displaying mixed media contemporary art. Doing thorough research will help to avoid unnecessary disappointment and crushing` rejection. Your research should also include each gallery’s specific submission policies.
Prepare Your Portfolio
A portfolio may be in the form of making physical prints of your art work or your website. We suggest that you make you portfolio of high quality that look as professional as possible. Take high resolution photos of your artwork – preferably with an actual camera than a phone camera unless it’s a very high-quality phone camera that can take high resolution photos. Use quality paper for your prints – not a regular printing paper. There are so many options out there and you may want to spend some time looking into this. No time is wasted; this is you taking your work to the next level. Also make sure to organize your pieces in a way that makes it easily understood. Some examples of how to organize your portfolio would be by theme, color, chronological order, or style. But whichever way you choose to organize your portfolio, please explain the organization to the gallerist prior to showing it. A properly organized portfolio will indicate to the gallerist that you take your work seriously.
Network and Build Relationships
In Cayman, we are fortunate to have a relatively small community, so that building relationships with most of the art galleries on island is not too much of a daunting feat. Keep an eye out in the community calendars in the media as well as follow the galleries you’re interested in on social media to see when they have upcoming events. Or it’s so simple to visit the gallery in person! Please note that if you plan to speak to the gallery owner at length, it would be best to book an appointment. But we do recommend to visit the gallery to at least have a look around first. Sort of like a reconnaissance art mission. Please DO NOT take your portfolio at the first meeting where you’re introducing yourself, unless it was specifically requested by the gallerist. The first focus should be on creating a dialogue and building a relationship.
Be Prepared to Pay!
Many artists think that once they’ve painted their body of work, they’re doing galleries a favor by having their work exhibited there. Whereas in some cases this may be true, for instance if you bring a huge following with your work, an art gallery is still a business. It’s one that can have very high overhead costs. Do find out what their commission is for making a sale of your work. Some may even charge a fee just for you to have it displayed in their gallery space. Remember, a sale that you make for your artwork at the gallery is a sale that you would not otherwise have received. If you are not prepared to pay the gallery, you may be sorely disappointed. However, just think of the visibility the gallery would have brought to having your artwork displayed. Think long term!
A bonus tip: do not be discouraged! Follow these five tips and you’ll be making good progress to getting your work showcased.
Have you displayed your artwork in an art gallery before? How did you find the process? Please share any additional tips that you may have so that we can all learn from each other.