Reaching out to Galleries

“It’s not our art, but our heart that’s on display,” said Gary Holland, and that is very true. You have put your heart and soul into your art, and now you want to share it with the world. But how do you go about it? How do you reach the right galleries? Here are some of the things you might want to consider:

  • First and foremost, take your time and prepare. Identify the right galleries for you, and don’t send your portfolio to every gallery within a hundred mile radius. Even if you know which galleries are best for you, you do not want to show them your art without knowing the owners and their history or what type of art or artists they represent. Look for galleries that give preference to local and up-and-coming artists, especially if you are younger or don’t have much of a resume. At the start, stick with galleries close by, and try to play the “home field” advantage.

  • Visit the galleries over time and during different exhibitions, study their websites, make sure the galleries that interest you sell art within a price range that might be right for your own art.

  • If you’re uncertain at the beginning and want to get used to the community, first, you might even offer to work at the gallery of your choice, even as a volunteer; that’s a great way to make some headway in the art community. Once you’re in the right context, you can strike up conversations and make an impression without broaching the subject of your own art or seeming to “sell” yourself, at least for a while. Introduce your art and your interest in the gallery only after creating a meaningful dialogue.

  • Once you’ve chosen the right galleries, prepare your presentation and portfolio carefully. Customize it to whomever you are planning to approach. However, do not forget that it’s your artwork that is important, and not your slick presentation or your elaborate portfolio. Make it simple and send in some examples of your best work.

  • A great way to get noticed by the galleries you have chosen is to get to know some of their existing artists. Invest in networking and meeting established artists and art dealers. Build yourself a support group of friends who will be your best and most honest critics, and you might get a referral that is worth a thousand portfolios.

Yes, it seems like a lot of work. Building a career is a lot of work. But like any other career, much of it is networking, building a name for yourself and identifying opportunities. Getting involved in any capacity will greatly increase your chances: so write a blog, help organize an exhibition, work for a museum, go to lectures, and attend openings. Get out there, and get yourself noticed.

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