HOW TO GET YOUR WORK INTO A GALLERY
Galleries are still one of the most viable means for artists to gain recognition at any stage of their art careers. Whether virtually or physically, they serve as a bridge between artists and potential buyers. Getting your work displayed may sound daunting, especially if you’re just starting your career as an artist, and that’s understandable. The good news is, this article will help show you how.
Research, research, research
Start by familiarising yourself with art galleries to see what types of work are displayed. You can also ask gallery owners questions about the types of artists they represent to determine if they would be the right fit for you, and then create a shortlist of 3-5 galleries that you would be most interested in working with. You may find that some galleries have strong preferences for specific niches. During this research phase, you should take the time to determine what factors are important to you when choosing a gallery. You need to understand the nature of the agreements that galleries have with artists. Are the terms exclusive? Would your work be displayed at art fairs? Will they provide resources to support the development of your next collection? These are important questions you can ask gallerists.
By attending events hosted at art galleries, you can establish relationships with gallerists, other artists and collectors. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with exhibiting artists about their work and their experiences. These events will help expand your network and increase collaboration and access to information in a way that could support you towards getting gallery representation.
Organize your work
It is important to have an organised portfolio of your work. Having a website (here are some examples) or a well-curated Instagram page will broaden your reach, and increase your chances of gaining international representation. Your website should include clear images of your work with relevant details, your CV, and your artist bio. You could ask for help from friends or family who write well to help you with your bio to avoid a messy bio or one that’s off-tangent.
In addition to developing a website, artists could also consider showcasing their work through social media channels such as Instagram. This can garner attention from online art communities and reach a wider audience than expected. This will help the artist gain traction and potentially meet a lot of exciting gallerists.
Use high-quality materials
Another factor worth considering if you want to get your work into a gallery is the quality of your output. By “quality,” we are referring to the quality of materials used in creating the work — from the canvas to the paint, frames, and other materials involved in creating a piece. Investing in materials can help you create art that can compete with other artists around the world. As an artist, you need to understand how your materials work and learn how to preserve your work to avoid it fading or a scenario where art collectors are dissatisfied with the quality of your work.
Review the contract
Once you have settled on the gallery of your choice, you must review and sign the appropriate paperwork. Galleries should provide a written contract that explicitly outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship with them. This is necessary to avoid miscommunication or misaligned expectations. When in doubt, always ask more experienced artists about the terms presented to you. It is also worth knowing that to cover the operational costs that come with their role within the art world, galleries typically take a 30-50% commission on artworks sold.
As an artist, being represented by a gallery is a great opportunity to give your art, and the stories that come with it, a wider audience. The institutional support from gallerists, curators, and art historians that sometimes comes with this representation can also play an instrumental role in your growth as an artist and should not be overlooked.