What Should You Include in a Portfolio Submission (Which Artworks, How Many)?

It can be daunting to choose a certain number of your artworks to include in a portfolio submission. Do you pick your favourites? Do you pick other people’s favourites? Do you only pick new works? Read the tips below to help chose your absolute best selection of art works for any submission.

Pay attention to what they want

This is the #1 golden rule of submissions! Continue reading

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Application Deadline: Vancouver Art Gallery | Art Rental and Sales Program

May 31, 2012

The Art Rental and Sales Program at the Vancouver Art Gallery is currently accepting submissions of artwork from Canadian artists. Work accepted into the program is consigned for rental or sale, with partial proceeds going to the artist and partial proceeds benefitting the non-profit Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Art Rental and Sales Program is an excellent opportunity for exposure as well as possible sales. To request an application package, they ask that you email artrentalandsales.submission@gmail.com. General inquiries can be directed to manager@artrentalandsales.com.

Full information on submissions can be found here.


Image credit: Geoff Richardson, http://www.loose-marbles.com

Gallery Submissions: How to Set Yourself Apart from the Crowd

With many artists vying for the same few spots at galleries or exhibition spaces, the “competition” for exposure can be difficult and disheartening. Unpersonalized rejections, lack of feedback, or unresponsiveness from galleries can lead artists to take drastic measures to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes these attention-getting tactics are great, and sometimes they ruin your chances before you’ve even begun. Below are some ways to stand out from the crowd.

1. Visit the gallery regularly, be friendly with the staff, and chat about whatever exhibitions they are showing. When you drop off your portfolio in person, the staff will be much more likely to give it proper consideration since they are familiar with you. Continue reading

Approaching a Gallery: The Initial Email (an Example of What to Send)

At any point in an artist’s career, they many begin to seek out representation from a commercial gallery. This has several benefits for the artist, including more exposure, a better venue to show work (presumably), less self-marketing, and hopefully more sales (if that is what the artist is after).

As many galleries are quite established and receive numerous submissions constantly, it can be tricky for artists to get a good “foot in the door.” The best first step is to do your research and approach a gallery to see if they are actually accepting submissions. This is best done with a respectful, polite email (with a link to your portfolio cleverly inserted).

Example of a good initial email:

For the attention of the curator,*

I am a Vancouver artist seeking representation** locally. I am writing to inquire if you are currently accepting submission proposals. If so, could you please let me know which format or materials you prefer.

Your Name

The key points in this email are: Continue reading

Art Gallery Submissions: How to Prepare and What to Send

So, you’ve decided that you want to submit your artwork to a gallery. Fantastic! Although it can seem like a daunting task, creating a professional and complete submission to send to galleries is a huge step in getting your artwork “out there” and progressing your artistic career.

Before you even begin gathering and preparing your materials for submission, you should make a decisive plan to streamline your effort and decide which galleries you want to submit to. I have written a post to help you with just that– please read Which Gallery Should I Submit To?

Once you have decided which galleries you want to submit to, take this most important step for each: Continue reading

Upcoming deadline: the Canada Council Art Bank Purchase Program

The Canada Council Art Bank is the largest contemporary art collection in the country. Each year, their purchase program accepts submissions from Canadian artists. The collection, made up of over 18,000 works, is rented out to corporations, institutions, government departments and agencies for display in their offices. Though quite competitive, the Art Bank holds open submissions for potential purchase. The main guidelines are that you must be a Canadian artist who:

  • has specialized training in the field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
  • is recognized as such by his or her peers through a history of public presentation of work in a professional context (artists working in the same artistic tradition)

source: Canada Council Art Bank Website

Along with your Art Bank application, you need to submit an artist CV. To read my post “How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps”, visit here.

Remember, the submission deadline is April 15th. Good luck!

(Image source here)

Suggestions for Writing your Artist’s Statement

I purposely did not call this post “how to write an artist’s statement.”

Because the answer is, there is no definitive right or wrong way to write an artist’s statement. The main purpose of an artist’s statement is to augment your artistic practice. This could be by offering background information, an explanation of your process, or any other information that will enhance the critical understanding of your work. Below are some suggestions to consider:

  • Why are you writing an artist’s statement? A good place to start is to consider who you are writing to, and what you want to tell them. If your artist’s statement is requested in a submission, you probably want to offer practical background information on your process, making it easy for whoever is considering your work to readily understand where you are coming from. If you have decided to write an artist’s statement to accompany an exhibition of your work, Continue reading

How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps

A CV or curriculum vitae is an overview of your artistic professional history and achievements. Although it looks similar to a resume, it contains different elements which are only related to your artistic professional practice.

One mistake emerging artists often make in writing their CVs is trying to oversell their work. Less is more. Your CV should be neatly organized, and only include information pertinent to your artistic career.

What should you include on a CV? Here is where how to compose one in 10 steps:

1. Personal details.

Often, more established artists will keep it simple. This is because their CV is usually referenced as a biography rather than a resume.

Damian Hirst (b. 1965, UK)

However, you can include contact information if you are sending out your CV to galleries in the hopes that they will reply:

Damian Hirst, (b. 1965, UK)
info@damianhirst.com | http://www.damianhirst.com | 604.555.1234

Either of these formats is appropriate for an artist’s CV. Just keep in mind that you should only include your website if it directly relates to your artistic practice.

2. Education.

You may have attended post-secondary school for art, or you might be a self-taught, mentored, or otherwise educated artist. Generally speaking, this section of a CV relates to institutional education specifically in the field of visual arts. If you do have post-secondary education in the arts field, include the school(s), the year(s) that you graduated, and the degree(s):

University of British Columbia, Master of Fine Arts, 2009
Emily Carr University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2005

If you do not have a degree in the visual arts field, fear not. This section of the CV is not a pre-requisite for exhibitions or gallery representation. The only thing to note is Continue reading

Do’s and Don’t’s of Submitting Artwork to a Gallery


Research the gallery you are submitting to. Make sure you’re not wasting your time submitting to galleries that would not show the kind of work you make.

Inquire about whether the gallery is actually accepting submissions. Your portfolio in the garbage doesn’t benefit anyone.

Respect the gallery staff, regardless of who you talk to. Being rude to the intern will not land you an appointment with the curator if the intern schedules appointments. Becoming friends with the staff is a good way to get a positive recommendation.

Attend openings or exhibitions that the gallery puts on. You are more likely to meet and talk to staff, who will then regard your submission inquiry with more care.

Contact other artists who show at the gallery. There’s no guarantee they will reply, but if you politely ask questions or for advice, this might be your best insight into the workings of the gallery. Many artists have websites and are easy to reach via email.


Be pushy or think that demanding attention will get you attention. (It is more likely to get your submission in the garbage).

Be unrealistic about your career. Submit to galleries who show artists in similar stages of their careers.

Request a critique of your work. That’s not the job of a gallery and you end up looking like an amateur.

Harass the staff if your submission has been declined. Instead, ask if you can keep them updated about your future work via email.

Lose hope. Persistence, hard work, and a good attitude will pay off.


Which Gallery Should I Sumbit To?

There is a lot of work and cost involved in preparing submissions to send to galleries. I have put together a list of tips to create an intelligent  submission strategy which will streamline your preparations and hopefully pay off with less work.

1. Find galleries that show artwork of a similar genre to yours.  The research for this can be as simple as looking at a gallery’s website. Shockingly, there are a huge number of artists who fire off submissions to galleries before doing any research at all. This becomes  evident when, for example, a submission from a local street photography artist arrives at a gallery which only shows historical paintings.

2. Once you have found a number of galleries that you think would show work of your genre, research their artists further. Be analytical and realistic about your career and your art. Some things to consider:

-Are the artists they show local to their community (are you?)
-Are the artists they show emerging or established (how does this compare to you?) *if their artists tend to have shows in large public institutions, and you have not yet had a show, they are not who you should be submitting to. Ideally, you want to be looking for a gallery which shows work similar to yours and that supports artists who are in similar stages of their careers.

3. Once you have whittled down your list of potential galleries, inquire to each establishment about their submission policy. Each gallery has a different preference, and you are likely to get more attention from them if you send them material in the form they prefer. Some will only accept unsolicited submissions by email, some will not look at email. Some will not be accepting submissions at all. While in contact with the gallery, you can also ask if there is a specific person you should be directing your submission to.

4. Once you have done enough work to decide which galleries you will contact and what format they prefer, you are ready to prepare your materials and submit. At this point, I can’t stress enough the importance of being polite and respectful. Every gallery receives droves of submissions, and they have the luxury of choosing or not choosing artists to show. Being pushy, demanding, or unrealistic about your work will only make you undesirable to potential galleries. Being polite and respectful will usually earn you a polite and respectful response.

Good luck!

Copyright The Practical Art World, 2011