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1. Be prepared
Presenting your work at an art gallery is not a last minute affair– you need to be prepared. Galleries are filled with several potential buyers that are experienced in the scene– they are constantly on the lookout for work that is unique, memorable, and matches what they’re looking for. Ask yourself the following:
1. Am I familiar with artists that have been featured in the past? Does my art match this style?
2. Does my work offer a distinct, creative perspective?
3. Does my work offer incentive for art enthusiasts and gallery attendees to purchase my art?
4. Would art enthusiasts feature my work in their home?
5. What is the inspiration behind my work? How is this portrayed?
6. Do I use unique materials or techniques that make my art stand out?
7. What does my art offer to the art community?
Artists often tread a fine line between creating art for the love of the game and being able to support themselves. Being featured in an art gallery allows artists to diversify their income and tap into commission-based sales structures. It is also important to review guidelines before submitting art to galleries – several of them request a 50% cut of the profits gained from sales.
2. Know Your Worth
Picture this: you’ve gotten your first offer from a gallery. Should you take it? As with any major career choice, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. While it is important to get your art out there, consider the following: what is the reputation of this art gallery?
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of conniving art enthusiasts who will take advantage of an emerging artist’s eagerness to get their art out there. It is important to avoid these pitfalls from the beginning to avoid setting a precedent for your art business in the future.
3. Make Specific Goals
Sincerity and intent are important to keep in mind while approaching the art field. What do you hope to achieve by featuring your art in this gallery: gaining connections? Expanding the influence and reach of your art? Or simply doing it for the love of the game?
A common mistake many emerging artists make is approaching galleries as though they are all the same. It is good to treat art pitches like cover letters for a job application – after familiarizing yourself with what the gallery specializes in, figure how how your art would work for it, and how it will help you achieve your personal goals – remember, you are an artist for yourself above all else – not just an artist for the galleries you are featured in!
4. Know How to Market Yourself – Without Compromising on Your Brand
As creative fields grow more and more professionalized, it can be easy for artists to approach their art from a more business-minded than self-fulfilling perspective. However, being overly professional with your approach to art can not only lead to burnout, but lead you to compromise on the quality of your art. Staying true to the creativity that drives you is key.
5. Embrace Rejection
Art is a field riddled with high risk, high reward situations. Rejection is the norm rather than the exception – something many experienced artists struggle to accept. All artists have different timelines – some artists may be featured after their very first pitch, while others take several years before even being considered. Do not let the randomness of the process demoralize you – many artists understand that marketing their art is much more difficult than creating it.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Networking is critical in any occupation, and more so in the art field. More often than not, the artists that are featured in art galleries are those with great connections, and an established presence in the art field. To the emerging artist, this can be intimidating – but it’s a stumbling block many must face for people to discover their art. Don’t be afraid to take risks and ask for help – you never know if that contact you made at an underground art show in university could be your ticket to getting your career started.
7. Be a Self-Starter
Ultimately, art galleries are always taking a risk by taking on an emerging, unestablished artist. Becoming known is the most difficult part of an artist’s job – and sometimes, you have to be the one that makes the first step.