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. Here are some tips for art gallery submissions.
Before you even begin gathering and preparing your materials for submission, you should make a decisive plan to streamline your effort and decide which art galleries you want to submit to. Check out Which Gallery Should I Submit To?
Once you have decided which galleries you want to submit to, take this most important step for each:
Ask the gallery what they require for an artist’s submission
Some galleries prefer an all-electronic submission, while some insist on physical portfolios. Based on your initial research, you will need to prepare some or all of the following:
Obviously, the most important component. Depending on what the gallery prefers, this could either be a physical portfolio of work, a thumbdrive of images, a link to a website or online portfolio, or a link to a shared folder of images. Unless a gallery requests something different, you should send 10-20 of your most recent works.
If a gallery requests digital images
- images should be in JPEG format
- images should be Mac and PC compatible
- images should be medium resolution. If they are too small, the image quality will be poor. If they are too large, they will be cumbersome to view and send. The resolution you choose depends on a few factors. For example, does the viewer need to zoom in to see more details? If not, I suggest a size of 72 dpi, and approximately 2000 pixels high. If more detail is needed, increase the dpi to 300.
- name you image files in a logical and consistent manner. Begin each file name with a number, starting with your most recent work, so that the files will automatically arrange themselves in chronological order. Here is an example of one way to title your files:
- include a PDF text document that includes a list of works, as well as your contact information
If a gallery requests a physical portfolio
I suggest reading “A Practically Perfect Portfolio”, an article by artist Brennen McElhaney. This gives an excellent overview of what your portfolio should look like, and offers tips and suggestions. My only note to add to Brennen’s article: depending on what kind of submission you are sending, you may or may not need a price list (for example, if you are submitting to a non-commercial venue, you should not submit a price list). If you are mailing or dropping off a physical portfolio, include sufficient postage for the gallery to return your materials to you.
The Curriculum Vitae or CV is essentially an artist’s resume outlining previous exhibitions, publications, press, and more. If you’re writing a CV, check out our Artist’s CV Templates. Skip the hassle of layout and formatting and create your own industry-standard CV with 16 different category options, plus examples of how to list each item. Included are three template options specifically for emerging artists!
You can also read further information here: How to Write an Artists CV in 10 Steps.
Don’t have much professional experience? Check out How to write an artist’s CV when you don’t have much (or any!) professional experience.
Your artist statement is an opportunity to explain the background and process of the work you are including on your art gallery submissions. There is no definitive right or wrong in writing your artist’s statement, but it should be concise. 500 words is a loose guideline, but it could be less or (slightly) more.
Check out Suggestions for Writing your Artist Statement for a discussion of artist statements, as well as links to examples of statements.
A Written Proposal
A written proposal for an exhibition is only necessary if you are submitting your work to a gallery that explicitly requests exhibition proposals, not just artist portfolios. If you are seeking representation by a gallery, you do not need to have a written exhibition proposal.
The difference between an artist statement and a written proposal is that your artist statement focuses on your artwork and practice in general, and a written proposal is a specific plan for an exhibition. A written proposal should include:
- a brief overview of the concept behind the show
- number of works and description of works to be included
- a rough timeline
- specifics of installation
- short biography of the artist(s) and if applicable, curator(s) involved
Follow-up on your art gallery submissions
Much like a job interview, it is professional to follow up on your art gallery submissions if you have not heard back. If the gallery does not give you a time-line for reviewing your submission, wait at least two weeks. Depending on the amount of submissions they receive, it could take much longer to review your work. It is best to be as polite and non-invasive as possible, and I suggest emailing instead of calling. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to be pushy—in most cases, this will hurt your chances.
For additional information on this subject, check out the Do’s and Don’t’s of Submitting Artwork to a Gallery.