Artist Representation: Finding the Right Gallery or any Gallery….
It’s a rare a day when an artist doesn’t contact our gallery and ask if we can look at their portfolio or make recommendations of a good gallery that might be interested in handling their work. For the record, after all this is an Art Dealer Diary blog, my gallery has been about keeping a very small stable of what we consider exceptional artists. When our gallery agrees to represent an artist, it’s because we have been following their career for along time in print, at shows, or online. It’s rarely a cold call from an artist, although it does indeed happen but for our gallery it’s definitely not the norm.
Most gallery owners do not like artists to cold call as they are busy during the business day taking care of clients and making sales for artists they currently represent. You run the risk of the gallery not having adequate time to evaluate your work as their attention is needed elsewhere and you, the artist, might feel there is a negative attitude when it’s simply a lack of time. If the owner or manager does take the time its usually going to be under a time constraint; you’re not doing your self any favors in case they do like your work.
As an artist looking for representation, I think you should first find out if the gallery you’re interested in representing you is accepting new artists; many art galleries are not. If they are interested then ask to make an appointment, if they aren’t accepting new artists , I still feel it’s ok to send an email with a link to your website. Art gallery owners always enjoying looking at art. Don’t send too many individual images the owner has to plow through. Instead send a short well composed email with an introduction, a few of your best images and a link to your website should they wish to see additional work.
If you are serious about being an artist that makes sales, you MUST have a website. I plan on discussing this subject in greater detail in future blogs but here are the salient points: your site should have something about you, your career and an image gallery of your best work, including a section showing what you have actually sold; this let’s the gallery and collectors know someone is buying your work.
Keep the site clean, no flash software, and easy to navigate. (I personally don’t like anything site I have to skip an intro or figure out how to get to the information I’m interested in.) I do love music but not when I didn’t ask for any. You’re better off to spend time making sure your art is well illustrated and images are large enough to see.
Finally a word to those looking for representation. Do look to the Internet as it will provide you the best exposure for the least money. Remember this doesn’t excuse you from having a personal art website. A couple of art web sites that can help give you very good Internet exposure are www.artufind.com and www.askart.com
ArtUFind is great because the site takes no commissions and you can list art with a simple Basic Membership, which costs $15/month. ArtuFind.com has a unique option for artists seeking new gallery representation. The “Gallery wanted” option is straightforward and lets galleries browse the site at their leisure and see what might be out there. Remember all galleries have certain niche artists they are looking to add to their stable. ArtUFind has broad exposure with over 250 different art websites feeding the main site which represent many of the major cities of the world, so the exposure is outstanding. It also has a well-designed easy to use search function for artwork.
Askart.com is another website which allows artists to put up their own studio for a monthly fee. Askart is not as inexpensive as ArtUFind but is still reasonable for what you get. AskArt’s main web function is for dealers and collectors to search auction records and for galleries to sell and find artwork. It also has a nice feature for artists. You can submit your own biography to be included in their extensive 110,000-artist database and they have a large audience that visits the site.
The bottom-line, if you’re an artist looking for that perfect gallery to help raise your career to new heights do realize you have to participate. Develop a website, have professional photos of your work taken, make appointments (don’t just walk in with your portfolio) and above all promote yourself while you are waiting for that dream gallery to come knocking on YOUR door.