There is a lot of work and sometimes cost involved in preparing art gallery submissions. I have put together a list of tips to create a practical submission strategy which will streamline your preparations and hopefully pay off with less work. The strategies below are applicable if you are seeking representation from a gallery, or if you’re proposing an exhibition.
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.
Research the gallery and their artists
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. Also, one that supports artists who are in similar stages of their careers.
- What are the mediums and styles of artists shown at this gallery? Are they similar to yours, or much different?
Inquire to galleries that seem to be a good match
Once you have whittled down your list of potential galleries, inquire to each establishment about their submission policy. (If they have their submission policy listed on their website like this, great! Move on to the next step.) 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. Most if not all will only accept unsolicited submissions by email. Some will not accept submissions at all. While you are in contact with the gallery, you can also ask if there is a specific person you should be addressing your submission to.
If you’re thinking about emailing a gallery, check out Approaching a Gallery: The Initial Email (An Example of What To Send)
Prepare your materials for art gallery submissions
Once you have decided which galleries you will contact and found out what format they prefer, you are ready to prepare your materials. 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.
Sending your artwork to a gallery? Check out Art Gallery Submissions: How to Prepare and What to Send.