Get Some Gallery Love: Part 2

5 Apr 2011

One of my paintings, Life Immense In Passion (oil, 12 x 12 in.), was selected
to be part of the Romantic Landscapes show at Greenwich House Gallery.
In my post on building healthy relationships with galleries, I explained that the top-selling couple of artists in any gallery are usually the same few who get heavily promoted as individuals by name. The rest of the gallery's stable of artists typically get promoted as a group.  If you're in this second category but you'd sell your grandmother to be in the first, it's time to take action! Be proactive and take  steps that will help your gallery reps sell more of your work. Here are some ideas:

Write your story. Every marketing guru will tell you that an incredibly effective sales technique is telling the story of a product's creation and/or its creator, and this is especially true in art. So, what's your story? Think of something interesting about how you became an artist or about how or why you make art, and write it down in one or two sentences. Then turn this short description over to your sales rep so he'll be able to tell your story concisely whenever a client shows an interest in your work.

Create a promotional kit. You may not know this, but galleries often put together little promo books for their top artists. If your gallery reps haven't created one for you yet, make one for them. In a slim binder in a sober color, fill plastic sleeves with copies of your bio, resume, a dozen printed, color-corrected examples of commissions and other sold paintings, and other related literature, such as postcard invites from previous shows or press clippings about you. The next time a client shows interest in your work, your rep can show her the book--very impressive!

Provide quality jpegs. Virtually every gallery has a website. Make it easy for your reps to use this tool to sell your work by automatically sending them top-quality jpegs of every new piece you deliver. If you don't have the equipment or skills to create them, hire a professional.

When I suggested a showing of 10 landscape artists,
including me, my gallery reps jumped on the idea.
The show was called Romantic Landscapes.
Present your work like a pro. One of the worst and most common mistakes artists make is putting cheap, tacky, or inappropriate frames on their work. Believe me, I get how expensive framing is. But if there's any way you can afford better frames, that investment will come back to you in the form of increased sales at higher prices. If you absolutely can't afford quality frames, talk to your gallery reps. If they really believe in the sales potential of your work, they may be willing to foot the cost of good frames, which will simply be deducted from the sale price of your paintings before determining the split.

Suggest a show.
It's only natural to dream of having a solo show in your gallery, but until you're a top earner that opportunity is probably a long way off. Shows are extremely expensive to put on (really! a couple thousand easily!), and galleries need to hedge their bets by investing in those artists that are most likely to produce a good return on that investment. But why not suggest a group show, perhaps on a theme that relates to work from a number of different artists already represented by the gallery, including you? The worst that can happen is that your gallery rep will say no... but she just might say yes.

This may sound like a lot of work, but you'd be making all the same moves if you were selling direct to the public. And who knows? With enough effort, you just may work yourself up to the top of the heap. I have one more post to go on this topic, but until then let me know if you have great ideas of your own to add.


Related Posts
+ Add a comment


mark beale wrote
on 6 Apr 2011 7:19 AM

Excellent post. Your painting is beautiful. I agree many artists shun the business side of art. We need to embrace it instead, especially if commercial success is important to us. Like most things in life, striking a balance between being an "over-seller" and a "do-nothing" is probably best. Writing your bio and artist statement is a good first step. The goal with these should be to explain your approach and background so that non-artists can understand it and find it interesting. Interest in you equals interest in your art. One gallery owner told everyone who looked at a particular artists work that "he is a conservationist and paints only natural scenes without people in them to encourage land preservation". This is understandable to the lay public and much more effective than something like " he uses tonal value and edge control to achieve atmospheric effects". It makes collectors feel they are participating in land preservation rather than participating in edge contol, if you see my point.

Mark Beale.