Approaching An Art Gallery
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A lot of
artists are apprehensive about approaching an art gallery to
represent their work for the first time. This is not surprising
considering there are galleries that portray an atmosphere
For the most
part though, this atmosphere is not to deter an artist
intentionally. Essentially this "still mood" that
often exists inside, gives the gallery its marketing power.
terms, the role of a gallery is to ensure there is significant
importance cast upon the art hanging on the walls. Hence the
"silent chamber" atmosphere associated with more
Art Gallery Owners Role
respects, the artist and the gallery owner operate from two very
different worlds of thought.
lives for pure self-expression, personal exploration and growth.
This is the earthy nature of the artist.
gallery owners (or dealers) role is to rally people to see your
work then present it with major importance in order to attain a successful
sale. This is the materialistic nature of the gallery owner.
This is the business side of art.
approaching an art gallery for representation, it's
important to appreciate up front; that a gallery is in essence a
business. In order for a gallery owner to operate successfully,
they must operate their gallery as a business with the
goal of making a profit.
the more prestige or importance a gallery can project, a higher
price can be attached to the artwork. Which means more profit
can be made.
You may have
experienced the "atmosphere manipulation" that exists
in a lot of the popular commercial galleries. This "secret
club" type ambience that often fills the display rooms is
merely to provide a sense of being surrounded by great value
- the value of course being the artwork.
So next time
you are walking through one of the great art galleries of oil
paintings somewhere in the world, take note of the aura that
fills the room. It's designed to be that way. It builds a
perception of great monetary significance.
Of Approaching An Art Gallery
misconception that some artists have with approaching an art gallery
idea of not being worthy enough because they don't possess an
art degree. Or they need to have had their face on five art
There is no
doubt that a lot of galleries want to represent established
artists. But essentially, an art gallery will look at your work
and assess as to whether what you paint will sell and if there
is the potential for them (and their business) to make a profit.
They are not
really interested in your artistic achievements or your
your primary goal should really be
to assess as to whether you
have made enough distinctive development in your art.
feel you have, then you are ready for approaching an art gallery to hang
your work regardless of how many awards or how much formal
art education you have to your name.
you may be concerned with about approaching an art gallery, the worst
thing that they are going to say is, "I'm sorry, your work
is not suitable for our gallery".
So try not
to take it personally. The gallery owner has a vested
interest in providing work that suits a particular clientele
base. Chances are, the gallery owner or dealer could well
suggest another gallery that is more suitable to your work.
To Approach an Art Gallery
step you need to take is to seek out a gallery that carries
similar work to yours. It's probably not a good idea to get the
attention of a gallery that hangs oil landscapes if you are marketing
abstract art. You'll just be wasting your time and the
gallery owner's time.
seeking out a gallery that is in line with your style and
obvious way to discover if an art gallery is suitable for your
work is to simply go and visit as a pretend potential customer.
That way you'll get a feel for the gallery, the clientele
walking through the doors and witness the overall presentation
of the gallery and its staff.
is no official set procedure you need to follow when approaching
an art gallery. While some galleries are quite laid back and dont
mind the cold canvas approach, there are many galleries that
much prefer you to arrange an appointment to speak with the
gallery owner or dealer.
Do not ever
first contact a gallery by email. I am telling you this from experience.
I admit it I got lazy and thought, "Ah what the heck,
I'll send an email - it'll save me making another phone call and
I can send pictures as well."
Not a wise
By using the
email contact approach you stand a very big chance of
being ignored. I promise.
really go for the cold canvas approach of walking in unannounced
when approaching an art gallery either. But if this suits you then why not test it out. But what
I recommend you do first is approach your gallery of choice via
telephone and organise a time that is convenient with the
It's nice way
of doing business, because after all, the galley owner is
essentially a business owner. If you are dealing with a
reputable gallery, then they'll have people in-house looking to
buy art on a regular basis. Which means they have clients to
they don't have the time to stop and attend to you when you walk
through their doors unexpectedly with your paintings under your
I have a
friend who owns a gallery. He mentioned in conversation only
just the other day about how much busier his gallery is getting
on the weekends.
So the big tip here is
to meet with a gallery owner on weekends. They are simply too
busy to consult with artists looking for representation.
An Art Gallery and Meeting
With The Gallery Owner
you eventually arrange a meeting with a gallery owner, just be
yourself and listen to how they operate their business.
more from listening and asking questions than you will by going
in with the mindset of trying to get a good deal.
trying to secure a solo exhibit off the bat.
Just try to
get some of your work hung on a commission basis to begin
concentrating on that, you'll begin to acclimatise yourself to
the wheeling and dealing of having your art represented by a
Keep in mind
that many galleries will take anywhere up to 50% in commission.
In fact, if they take any less than 30% I would be a little
weary of their ability to market and promote the artwork they
marketing buzz requires a reasonable budget, hence the reason
why so many galleries will take anywhere from a 30% to 50%
commission from the sale of each piece of artwork (some major
commercial galleries have been known to take anywhere up to 80%
to 90% commission yikes!).
On top of
their marketing budget, they have such things like monthly rent,
utilities, taxes, staff, payment facility fees and housekeeping
to take care of as well.
have developed your level of understanding as to the procedure
of dealing with a gallery, short-term agreements can be a good
While they may not always be an option with some
galleries, it is worth asking in order to give you a "dry
run" and familiarise yourself before tying yourself to any
long-term contractual agreements.
to making anything happen is taking action and having the
willingness to interact with people. If you can do that then
you'll eventually get your work distributed out into the public
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