Week 5: Fine-tune an artistic target, do your research, and act based on your findings.
This week’s project is more open ended than previous ones, but I believe it is very useful method that can work for almost anyone.
It is not uncommon to meet an artist who loves to make art, spends countless hours in the studio, and dreams of one day having their art displayed in a big public gallery. Or maybe to see their work sell in a big commercial gallery. Or perhaps on a beautiful website that gets tons of hits. The only flaw in this plan is that there is no plan.
Unfortunately, artists are not likely to be “discovered” based solely on their private artistic talent. For example, Continue reading
Many artists, ranging from emerging or amateur artists all the way to fully established professionals, create commissioned works for clients. The idea of a commission is that the purchaser has some input into the finished work that they are buying. This can range from vague direction or discussion all the way to specific agreed upon terms for colours, subject matter, materials used, size, etc. It is up to each artist to decide how much input or direction they will accept from a client and how much they prefer to decide for themselves.
Whatever your artistic boundaries are for commissioned works, you should always create a written contract or commission agreement outlining your own stipulations. I have listed some common examples below. Having a written contract signed by both parties is meant to: Continue reading
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
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.
The key points in this email are: Continue reading
There is thought to be a stigma around including prices on an artist’s website. But whether or not you should include prices on your website depends on what exactly you use your website for. There are of course no clear-cut rules; below are my suggestions for deciding what works best for your artistic career goals.
If you are a self-marketing artist, there are advantages to including prices on your website. If you are interested in selling your work directly to clients, art consultants, designers, etc, then clearly listing the availability and prices of your work makes it easier for potential buyers to decide whether they would be interested in investing in your work. This simply saves them emailing you to ask. I have heard of many self-marketing artists hesitating to list their prices, but if you are truly interested in selling your own work through your website, consider that many high-end commercial galleries clearly list prices on their labels. It does not diminish the artistic value of your work.
If you are setting up your website as an online portfolio with the intention of acquiring gallery representation, I would suggest that you not include prices on your website. A professional gallery will not necessarily care what you charge for your artwork, because Continue reading
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.