How to Get Your Work into an Art Gallery
Well, it’s finally here…Art Comes Alive (ACA) is here! All the artwork arrived on time, is curated into a beautiful showcase, and is ready to be admired! There were so many incredible artists who submitted work to this year’s art competition, and I’m so excited to show off the finalists this Saturday at the exhibition opening. One of the best parts about ACA is getting to connect artists with galleries through our gallery contract awards.
Gallery Representation Questions
After all my years in the business, the question of how to gain gallery representation is still the most-frequently-asked question I receive from artists. Artists can work their entire career, creating and successfully selling their work on their own, but when artists are represented by a gallery, it’s almost as if they’ve achieved a new status, and think, “Ah, I’ve finally made it!”
Gallery representation is great because it permits artists wider exposure, and to a new audience of art buyers and collectors. This sounds great, right? But how to get connected is the first step.
Artists always have questions about fine-art galleries, and the answers are not always easy to come by. Plus, approaching gallery owners can be intimidating and uncomfortable. Fine-art galleries vary greatly; some focus on art for corporate settings, some residential, some sell only landscape paintings, and yet others would never touch one. How do you choose the right gallery for your work, and what if it happens to be on the other side of the country? How do you maintain a successful relationship with a gallery?
My sister Sylvia, who is also an art dealer, has some insight for artists. Sylvia joined the ADC team earlier this year after nearly 20 years of owning and running a very successful, high-end art gallery of her own. In this blog, she addresses some of the most frequently asked questions and provides insight for artists looking to gain gallery representation.
How to Meet an Art Gallery Owner
Like me, she also recommends querying first, such as calling or making appointments to show any work. “Don’t just show up at a gallery,” she recommends. “You wouldn’t march past a personal assistant and barge into a CEO’s meeting and demand that he reviews your resume. He would have to stop what he was doing. He would have to pull his time away from other people who deserve his time. It’s ridiculous to think you would do that in the corporate world, and yet people do it in the art world all the time.”
She tells a story of a time a man brought his eight-year-old son and laid down several child’s drawings on the floor of her gallery during business hours when clients and customers were in the gallery. He demanded that Sylvia look and comment on his child’s work. “It’s crazy, but it happens. And he wasn’t the only one. Many artists do it. And it just proves to me you’re not ready as an artist and you haven’t done your homework. If you want to be treated like a professional, you need to act like a professional. That means doing the work. That means researching a gallery and understanding how your work might fit in. It also means recognizing that a gallery owner is providing you a valuable service,” she says.
Art Galleries Work Hard for Their Artists
That’s why Sylvia recommends that artists take the time to understand the industry. Over the years, she’s been questioned about why she should receive commissions for selling and promoting the artwork. “Over the years I’ve heard ‘I am the artist. I did all the work and you’re just taking the money,’” she repeats an often-heard remark from artists. Sylvia adds, “What I do isn’t free. To keep the gallery open, heated, lit, insured, and beautiful to attract customers to the art isn’t free. To hire assistants, framers, and installers isn’t free. To promote the work and get it in the hands of clients isn’t free. It also takes up a considerable amount of time. What I do means artists can focus on creating work. And artists, as professionals, must understand that there is a cost for that,” she says.
How to "Wow" an Art Gallery Owner
So how does an artist “wow” a gallery owner? Sylvia says, “First and foremost, they show me that they’re professionals. They’ve defined themselves as an artist. They treat gallery owners with respect and have selected their very best work, and they understand how we both need to work together. Any gallery owner would be happy to work with someone like this.”
And I have to say, I totally agree. Over the years, we’ve both been so lucky to work with incredible artists who do all of the above and much more. And it’s always such a pleasure to work with them and watch them flourish and succeed. As I always say: My success is an artist’s success. I couldn’t do it without artists.
Blink Art Resource connects your work with galleries nationwide
Blink Art Resource isn’t only an art resource that's coveted by designers, but gallery owners love to use it too! Why? It’s simple, gallery owners are bombarded with many emails from artists vying for representation. We don’t want to be stuck at our desk weeding through emails when we can be out there selling artwork. Sylvia agrees, “Blink Art Resource gives me a very targeted and curated collection of artists, and I know the quality is there! I love that the book connects me directly to the artists’ websites where there is more beautiful art to be found for my clients.”
And Blink Art Resource works! Carla has been a Blink Art artist for the past four years, and she is still getting commissions from designers and galleries who are looking through earlier editions of Blink Art Resource. And she had a gallery owner from Maryland see her work in Blink Art Resource and requested six pieces for a show. “What is significant for me is that Blink Art Resource exposes me to different regions.”
ART COMES ALIVE – NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES
Known as the “Academy Awards for Art,” Art Comes Alive (ACA), ADC's annual art competition and exhibit, is embarking on its 10th year of helping artists get their work in front of art-industry professionals such as interior designers, art galleries, private art collectors, and corporate collections. Each year the art competition gets bigger and better, and this year over $300,000 in awards will be given to artists through gallery contracts, purchase awards, publishing contracts, and more!
DEADLINE TO APPLY EXTENDED TO: 8/12/19