12 Mar 2014

6 Tips On How To Approach An Art Gallery And Find Gallery Representation

For new and upcoming artists it may be difficult to approach an art gallery and find gallery representation. Here are a few points to help you get started.

It may often be difficult for an artist to find that first foothold in an art gallery. Art schools cover every aspect of art history, artists, techniques and skills but rarely cover the practicalities of establishing yourself as an artist. Many new and upcoming artists struggle for gallery representation and for inclusion in group exhibitions. In such a situation, having a solo exhibition with the support of an art gallery becomes even more elusive.

Therefore, those who pass out of art schools or have been learning painting informally need to know how to approach a gallery. Remember, galleries receive so many portfolios, images and requests from artists that most of the time it is physically impossible for them to go through each of these and get back to the artist.

6 Tips On How To Approach An Art Gallery And Find Gallery Representation, Image@Nalini Malaviya

Have A Systematic Approach


1. Annual art exhibitions: These are organized by art schools annually and it is one of the ways to get noticed by gallery managers and representatives: These events are popular with gallerists, curators and art connoisseurs as they scout around for emerging talent, to buy art at affordable prices and to look for potential participants for future exhibitions. However, in the current weak economy, this trend is greatly reduced. Certain art school events become synonymous with quality artworks and I know a few people who make it a point to visit the annual event at MS University, Baroda, Shantiniketan and Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore.

It therefore makes sense that even students rise to the occasion and put in effort to create artworks which stand out. If this works well and a gallery signs you up for a future show, then you are amongst the fortunate ones and all you will need to worry about is living up to the expectations of the gallery.

2. Reference point: One of the best ways to get a gallery to review your portfolio and to agree to meet you is by ‘reference’. If an artist or a curator who is either working with the gallery or is involved with them in any way, refers you and your artwork, there is a very good chance that the gallery will be at least willing to look at the images of your works.

3. Shortlist: Zero in on the galleries that you would like to approach. It doesn’t make sense to send your artworks to all the galleries possible, because your art may not be suitable for many of them. For instance, a gallery specializing in photography will not be interested in your paintings or videos. Therefore look for a match, and it need not be in the same city.

4. Contact the Gallery:
  • Create a portfolio: Make an artist portfolio with your best images, an excerpt from your artist statement, resume and selected exhibitions. Ensure it looks professionally done.
  • Contact: Send an e-mail to the gallery - write a polite covering letter and send your portfolio to the gallery. Make sure it includes your contact details and has a link to your website/ blog. I feel a soft copy is so much better than an envelope with copies of photographs or a CD, which can sometimes remain unopened.
  • Follow up: You can follow up with the gallery after a reasonable amount of time, say about two to three weeks and request for an appointment.
5. Be visible: You can also participate in juried exhibitions and apply for art grants, which may give you visibility.

6. Network: Networking with the right people can really get you places. Visiting art shows and events and being active online will allow you to grow your network of like-minded people, which will help you in getting advice and references for galleries to approach and also about participation in possible group shows.

Final Tips

  • Keep the content limited; nobody has time to go through hundreds of images and pages and pages of written material.
  • Allow sufficient time to pass before you follow up with a gallerist/curator.
  • Always make an appointment before you show up at the gallery.
There is no quick fix solution, but as an artist who is talented you will find the right gallery for you. Be patient and persevere.
I hope this helps you and if you have any other tips for upcoming artists, then I would love to hear from you. It would be great to learn from your experience and I’m sure new artists will appreciate it. Share with us in the comments section below or you can even send me an email.

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