Have you just graduated from art school, come back from a year-long-residency somewhere hot or have decided for a career change late in life? Are you looking for your creative genius to be displayed – and more importantly sold – inside a gallery? Gaining gallery representation can be tough. The art world is horribly competitive and it really can be a dog-eat-dog world. That said, it isn’t all doom and gloom, finding a gallerist is possible (how else would all these mega-galleries stay open), and we’ve got you covered with some tips for making sure you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t Appear Desperate
Even though you might be desperate to sign with a gallery, most won’t take too kindly if you turn up at their front desk with your portfolio. To be honest, the gallery girl or guy manning reception probably won’t have the authority to sign you anyway, and the whole situation is bound to be embarrassing.
Network, network, network
This sounds obvious, but too often we easily dismiss gallery openings for drinks with friends who are not so artfully inclined, or a night on the town. But it is important to see and be seen at these events, which will more often than not be full with the key people to mingle with and to pass out business cards. Don’t be shy to say hello to someone, they could be the person leading you to your big break.
If you’re a sculptor and you approach a gallery that only displays paintings, chances are they’re not going to sign you. It’s good to be realistic. Look up the galleries you admire and compare your work to the artists they already have on their roster.
You also need to know your market. What are your price points? Who are the similar artists to you and who is collecting their work. Once you secure a meeting with a gallerist they will want to know all these questions. Yes they may be a fan of your work, but their number one priority is to make money.
Be Smart About Instagram
Everyone loves Instagram but when you are an artist, social media is business too. Make a private account for your wild weekend antics and have a separate public profile for your portfolio. It’s also worth remembering that people you don’t know might be looking up that great artist they were just told about, and they will be put off if they see a feed full of selfies instead of masterpieces.
Open Up Your Studio
Invite people into your studio in order to let them understand more about you and your work. Before you invite them, make sure you’ve thought about what works you’d like to highlight and why.
We should finish off by reminding you to be realistic. The art world is hard and it can take time to get to where you want to be. Just because you’re struggling now, doesn’t mean you will be ten years down the line. If you’re not getting signed right now, why not put on your own pop-up exhibition with artist friends? Thanks to social media, there are now many new ways of attracting buyers and collectors.
Text Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @the_art_gorgeous