Welcome to our Pacesetter Gallery blog The Life and Times of Inspired Minds! The goal of this article is to help artists better understand what galleries are looking for when choosing new artists and general guidelines for properly submitting to a gallery.
Most galleries have a submittal process already in place. Galleries have a long list of daily activities on their work schedule, from entering inventory, creating and posting marketing and advertising, meeting with artists, hanging shows and more. Often the task of reviewing submittals are reviewed after closing or slow time of the day or even once a week or two. Understanding the gallery owner values their time and has a set schedule and is highly focused on the gallery's success.
As a gallery owner, I am approached many times a day, almost every day by artists interested in joining the gallery. I always share the submittal process is available under the Artist tab called Artist Guidelines on the website. As an artist, I strive to treat other artists as I would like to be treated, so I look at current submissions when I have time to give it my full attention so I can make a thoughtful decision
My criteria for choosing new work is to find art that is not similar to a current artist, each deserves their own lane. I also choose work that meets my vision of my gallery theme of a wide variety of Mississippi art and gifts at multiple price points, sizes and mediums from across the state. The work must demonstrate a strong understanding of the elements and principles of art with consistency across all pieces. I need a good feel of where you are and an inkling of where you are going next in your work. I consider who the target audience is for the work.
When considering approaching a gallery first be sure to do your research. Submitting is similar to going to a job interview. Look at the gallery website and see if your art is a good fit and ties in with the vision of the gallerist. If it doesn't, look for other galleries that would be a better fit.
Next, check for submission guidelines posted on the website. This shows you respect their time which is one thing the gallery will look for when partnering with an artist.
It is ok to call the gallery and ask a quick question about where to find or request submission guidelines by phone or email. It is great to visit the gallery, make sure you are clear with your agenda. Be sure to mention you are an artist and want to look around and see the gallery.
Gallery personnel are looking to sell to customers, so non-purchasing artists need to be clear their purpose. If the gallery loses a chance to make a sale or spends a great deal of time talking to you only to find out you are there to sell yourself and not purchase art you have started the relationship on dishonest footing.
The gallerist might spend time talking to you, make sure you know a bit about the gallery. Don't ask to show pictures from your phone, those tiny images on the screen are never impressive and you have one shot to impress with your submittal. Never ask to bring artwork in or just show up with paintings, cold calls and hard sells don't work. If you submit your work as requested the gallery owner will decide if they are interested in pursuing looking at your work any further.
Some galleries are not currently accepting submissions due to being full or multiple upcoming shows, so circle back to that gallery after a month or two. If submissions are closed, do not send an email with your portfolio, just a quick response that you will check back with them in a few months and that you are very interested. The worst impression I have had from an artist included 15 Facebook Messenger texts of artwork sent at 11 PM and an emotional plea that if I don't give them an opportunity they have nothing left and will quit making art.
FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES
Be sure to follow the submission guidelines exactly. Most galleries want 5-7 high resolution images of current work within the last year. This is a way for the gallery to see your consistency and that you regularly produce art. Steer clear from sending only a link to your website if they ask for pictures, this may be breaking submittal guidelines which may make the gallery stop looking at your submittal all together.
Galleries know that if you can't follow a simple set of instructions, you would have a hard time meeting the requirements of the gallery if you were added as an artist.
You have this one shot to make a big impression, send your best work with great resolution and lighting between 2 and 15 gigabyte. Ask a few people you trust for their opinion on which pieces to send to get an outside viewpoint. I know right away if I want to continue looking at images and am intrigued. Gallery owners look at many submissions and trust their instincts.
If you are called in to meet with the gallerist be on time, bring good samples and be prepared to talk about yourself. The gallerist wants to work with artists long term so they want to know who you are as an artist. Don't be nervous, artists are all individuals with different unique perspectives and that is what the gallerist is interested in...the real you.
Show your enthusiasm for the opportunity to interview and be sure to ask questions. Good luck in your art journey and remember that no can be not right now and no can be it doesn't fit the vision or is too similar to other work in the gallery. No can also mean you need to continue to work on your craft. Don't be discouraged, if this is something you want to do keep working hard towards your goal. !