4 Tips to Get a Gallery to Call You Back

7 Aug 2012

I don't believe that gallery representation defines an artist or even makes one a professional, but if you are interested in pursuing that kind of relationship with a gallery there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Make a solid connection. All the artists I know that have strong relationships with their galleries have those because it is a symbiotic relationship. The artist understands what the gallery is all about--what kind of work they are interested in representing and the kind of collectors they have--and the gallery has a mutual understanding of what the artist's point of view is and how that connects to their list of artists. Do your homework first to find out what galleries make sense for you to be aligned with, and point out that connection when you present your work.

This is the work of Sergio Garval, who is represented by one of my favorite galleries in the art business, Evoke Contemporary in Santa Fe. Waiting by Sergio Garval, oil on canvas, 67 x 55.
This is the work of Sergio Garval, who is represented by one of my favorite galleries in the art
business, Evoke Contemporary in Santa Fe. Waiting by Sergio Garval, oil on canvas, 67 x 55.

Have more than five finished paintings. A gallery wants to know you have been at your craft for more than five minutes. Only having a handful of paintings is not going to do that job as effectively as having a more substantial body of work to showcase yourself as a committed oil painting artist.

Cohesion is king. I'm always on the side of leaving a strong first impression, and for artists that can often mean having an apparent theme or narrative in the works you show. Don't be afraid of presenting works that are similar because it allows a gallerist to imagine and anticipate what a solo show of yours would look like on their walls. Disparate works aren't as easy to imagine hanging together.

Artist Lisa Yuskavage elects to not have a personal website. Instead, she allows her gallery, David Zwirner, to represent her in person and online. Biting the Red Thing by Lisa Yuskavage, 2004-2005, oil on linen, 65 x 75.
Artist Lisa Yuskavage elects to not have a personal website. Instead, she allows
her gallery, David Zwirner, to represent her in person and online.
Biting the Red Thing by Lisa Yuskavage, 2004-2005, oil on linen, 65 x 75.

Online presence is a great supplement. There are big name American painters and artists out there who do not have their own websites but I find that is actually really rare and quite odd if I'm going to be honest. Having a website or personal fine art blog, no matter who you are, gives viewers, writers, and gallery owners a great window into the breadth and depth of your work. And the plus side for the artist is that he or she is in control of that website and can present their work however they choose.

And these pointers are only the tip of the iceberg. For more ways to put a professional finish on your artistry and gain the kind of momentum you are searching for with your art career, Workshop to Professional Practices is a top-notch resource guide. Enjoy!

 


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