Showing posts with label artist resource. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artist resource. Show all posts

10 Jul 2015

5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for Your Art

A well-written catalogue text adds value to your art and provides a reference point for viewers.

5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini MalaviyaOver the years, I must have received hundreds of press/ media kits from artists having exhibitions. The art catalog on a CD or a hard copy by post has been an inevitable part of the kit and these are sent by the artist or gallery.

It does not matter if the show is in a well-known private gallery, a hotel, or in a public gallery self-hosted by the artist. However, there has been a steady decline in the number of catalogues that accompanies a press kit. Not surprising, given the cost of publishing and printing, current economic conditions and the state of the art market.

Of late, very few galleries will wholly sponsor an art exhibition, let alone pay for a 20 page glossy catalogue. This is how conditions are and it is a matter of survival for many galleries in India. In the West too, the trend of catalogues accompanying an exhibition is on the decline, but remember writing fees are also much higher there. Here, you will find most curated shows have detailed catalogues. Also, museums come out with catalgues that become highly collectible.

In my opinion it is important to have text for a show, whether it is a solo or a group exhibition. You may print the catalogue for the show or do an e-copy now and print it at a later date when you have the resources. The important thing is to get a catalogue done, at the least a soft copy, which broadly means the text – a critical essay by a critic/writer/scholar, an artist statement, images from the show with all relevant details and the artist’s biography. Also, part of the text can be printed on the invite, or you can print handouts for viewers.


1. A catalogue is an important tool for communication

It is a widely known fact that communication is easier through words. Yes, a picture might be worth a thousand words, and you may have produced an excellent series of visual work, but the right text will add perspective to your art and help in communicating better to viewers, buyers, gallerists and the media. It is also highly relevant when you have the catalogue text written for your art now for future shows, particularly exhibitions planned abroad.

2. A well-written catalogue text adds value to your art

5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini MalaviyaApart from the communication factor, insights provided by the critic, especially if it is somebody well-known and respected from the art field adds value to the exhibition. In a way, just as the venue/gallery where you are exhibiting is important, so are the credentials of the person writing about your exhibition.

3. The text provides a context

Words help in setting your art within a larger framework. The text should offer a critical analysis of your work, its contemporary context and relevance from an art historical perspective and insights into your work. It tells the viewer what to expect and essentially provides a reference point for your art. There are several artists who believe that they would like to refrain from giving textual clues to the viewer, nevertheless, viewers appreciate reading about your art and understanding where you are coming from.

4. The catalogue is part of the documentation process

Presumably, you are documenting your work as an artist that means cataloging images and all other details digitally with regular backups. A catalogue is an important part of this process, which you can use and refer to whenever required. The catalogue also comes in useful when you approach new galleries, collectors and curators.

5. Internet reach

The Internet allows you to reach out to a much larger audience base, which you may not have been able to approach earlier. In fact, you must plan in such a way that your catalogue text becomes more accessible virtually – you can put it up on your website and share excerpts on social media, emails and newsletters. All this enhances your reach considerably and allows you to tap into newer markets.

Commonly asked questions

Who do I approach to write my catalogue text or essay?

Ideally, a well-known critic is the best option, however, if that is not feasible, look for writers who are well established in the art world and who are familiar with your work. For instance, I like to write for artists whose works I can relate to. That way, I can be fair to the artist and do justice to his/her work. Incidentally, you can also have more than one person writing an essay; just make sure that they address different aspects of your art to avoid repetition. Once you have the text you can decide how best to maximise it.


Can I write the text myself?

That would be the artist statement. It cannot be a critical essay on your art. Ideally, you should have both, at least one essay and an artist statement as part of your catalogue, along with all the other elements I had mentioned earlier.


What about costs?

It depends on who you approach for the text. It might be possible for you to get a short essay done for a
5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini Malaviya
couple of thousand rupees by a relatively new writer. But, I would suggest you invest more and have the text written by someone with more experience and better credentials. Remember, how I talked about adding value to your art, that’s one of the reasons you need to approach an appropriate writer who can take your art to another level. Believe me, there are writers who can add so much value to your art.

Be prepared to spend Rs 10,000 to 25,000 or more for a 500-1000 word text. Then, there are additional costs in design, layout, compilation, proofreading and printing, if you choose to do so. If you print, the cost will also depend on the number of pages, size and copies. But, you can choose to print later and do an e-version now along with an abbreviated copy as handouts. Many artists I know design their own catalogue, which saves them a substantial amount of money.


This is too expensive!

I agree and therefore you may want to look for a sponsor. There are corporates and foundations that will sponsor the catalogue partly or wholly. You can also approach your old collectors and see if they would like to bear costs in exchange of an artwork. Your gallery may also be able to point you towards the right people willing to share costs in exchange for credits and adverts.
You can also opt for fewer words to optimise writer's fees.

Hope this article helps you in deciding about a catalogue for your current art series or your next exhibition. Let me know if you have any more questions or would like me to write your catalogue essay; send me an email at

No part of this article can be reproduced in part or whole on a blog/website or in print without permission. 
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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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7 Mar 2014

Tips: How to Create an Online Presence

For artists, photographers and writers it is important to have a strong online presence. Here’s what you can do to create one. 

In today’s Internet age, it has become vital to create an online presence which supports your artistic and entrepreneurial practice. In India, access to computers and the Internet has risen enormously in the last few years, however I still find that many artists and writers are reluctant to utilize and leverage the advantages of building an online presence.

What is an online presence?

An online presence is the consolidated result of multiple efforts and activities around your website, social media networks, your interactions on various fora, any articles that you may have written and press/media coverage. Now, what this does is it creates an identity which represents you and your activities in the virtual world.
It is important to realize that it takes time and effort to build an online presence and be patient.

Advantages of an online presence

One of the major advantages that I find is that it allows me to connect with people who have a similar interest and in this case with artists, writers and art connoisseurs. It therefore allows one to have a much wider reach and lets you connect with gallerists, dealers, writers, curators, potential buyers and so many other people who would otherwise find it impossible to access you. It is also a great way to build your brand and expand your business.

Tips: How to Create an Online Presence, Art Scene India, Image@Nalini Malaviya

Have a Website or Blog

The first thing that you can do is to create a website or a blog which represents your art or writing, showcases some of your works, gives some details about your exhibitions and shows, articles, lists out your profile in brief and provides links to other websites that sell your work, have articles either by you or about you.

I think it’s very important to create a website which appears to be professional – well designed with a good format that lays out all the important information prominently and has quality content free from grammatical errors. An attractive looking website is definitely an advantage and here is where your artistic sensibilities can be put to good use!

Be Social

Social media is not just about posting images and the occasional comment, but I see it more as building a relationship. And, it is really interesting how you start getting to know people even when you interact with them just in the virtual world and have never met them otherwise.

Facebook is one place where I find so many artists and other creative people, so it appears that most artists are already utilizing at least one social media option. But there are other options as well, Pinterest and Instagram work very well for image oriented content.

Google+ is another great tool which allows you to create communities, share images and information and to also connect through hangouts. I now find a lot of artists and photographers on G+. It is also a great way to present your artworks and to find potential clients. Linkedin also works well for the art community, especially the business side of it.

I think there are very few artists from India on Twitter and I really wonder why, because it seems to be a great place to tweet about your latest artwork, blog post or an event, etc and to reach out to a really large number of people.

Some of the points to remember here are

  • Share other artists’ and writers' works too
  • Comment frequently and try to say something positive about others’ works
  • Please don’t keep posting the same image over and over again
  • Do not start chatting the moment you see someone online, I know some people find it irritating and it’s always better to first send a mail or message.
  • Always make sure that you provide a link to your website so that people have the option of visiting it.
  • When you post images it is a good idea to mention a few lines about it.

I hope this helps you and if you are already well versed with the tools to building a strong online presence, then I would love to hear from you. It would be great to know what has worked for you and what is the ONE advice that you would give others. Share with us in the comments section below.

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