Are you ready to approach an art gallery with your work? Do you know what you will need if you decide to meet with a gallery director?
If you have been painting for some time and are serious about your career as an artist, then you might have thought about getting gallery representation.
But you may be uncertain about whether or not you are ready to make such an important move.
I’ve put together some clear guidelines to help you ascertain whether or not you are ready to take this important step in your career. And I’ve put together a checklist of things you will need to take with you when you go.
1. Create a Clear Artistic Vision
This is the big one.
Gallery directors are looking for mature artists and mature artists have a clear artistic vision.
A clear vision of what you are trying to do with your art will set you apart from artists who are unsure of themselves in this regard.
You have to follow your heart and instincts on this one. No one can tell you what your vision should be. You are essentially following the guiding North Star of your soul. This is your calling, your life’s work. This is what you were called as an artist to bring into this world. No small thing.
2. Work Hard on Your Craft
Once you have decided on your vision, give yourself at least 1 to 5 years to bring it to fruition.
This will depend on how prolific of an artist you are. Some artists turn out many works very quickly. Others have a slower pace.
If you are a painter, paint a lot. And throw most of them away, or paint over them. Be very critical of your work. Keep only the best of the best.
Get hard critiques from other artists. Don’t let them be easy on you.
Keep only the the work that meets the true voice of your vision.
3. Create a Cohesive Body of Work (about 20 pieces)
Your goal is to create a cohesive and consistent body of work. It should be about 20 pieces. These 20 pieces of art should speak clearly about your vision.
They should have a clear theme and direction.
These 20 pieces of art will define you as a mature artist.
So choose each one carefully.
4. Participate in Group or Student Exhibitions
If you are student at a local art school or university, participate in as many group and student shows as you can. You should add all of these to your resume. It shows the gallery director that you have experience in this area.
It also shows that you are a hard worker and dedicated creative person. These are more signs of artistic maturity.
5. Put Together Your Promotional Materials
Your promotional materials should be well thought out and have a professional appearance. Use templates for your resumes. Or better still, go to your local jobs center and take class on writing a professional resume.
Here are the things you will need to take to the gallery director:
- Resume (include all your student and professional exhibitions, education, honorable mentions, press coverage, radio or television interviews and dates of each.
- Color slides or jpeg images of your 20 works of art on a CD or thumb drive. Each image should be clearly labeled with title of work, dimensions, medium, year of creation, and your name.
- Some gallery directors may request that you bring in actual pieces of your work from your portfolio. Discuss this ahead of time and be prepared with this if needed.
- Business cards (this is optional)
You should be able to clearly articulate your artistic vision to the gallery director. Try to narrow this down to about one or two paragraphs. You can put this on your resume if you like. But the main point here is that you have your artistic vision statement memorized and can talk about it in a conversational manor.
6. Research the Gallery
You should always research the galleries that you hope to approach. Make sure that your work is a fit for these galleries. Do they consistently show the kind of work you produce?
If not, don’t waste yours or the gallery director’s time.
Many galleries, especially in the major markets like New York City, specialize in a narrow market. Some galleries only promote realist painters. Others only promote abstract artists. Do lots of research especially in large markets.