Artists everywhere approach galleries regularly to display their works and galleries are happy to receive new and interesting work! Unfortunately, many artists commit a variety of faux pas when presenting their works. Here are some dos and don’ts !
Always use archival materials.
Galleries all have quality standards for the art they present for sale to the public. Avoid outdated framing styles like the plague. If your work is framed in non-archival materials or with outdated materials, you are asking the gallery to stand behind something of inferior quality that may not last for years to come. Your clients are spending money and investing in your work. They are trusting the gallery to offer high quality products. If you don’t believe in your work enough to invest in high quality presentation materials, the gallery you approach won’t believe in you.
Be sure your work is ready to hang.
Nothing is a bigger turnoff to a gallery manager than having to clean your piece prior to hanging. Frames should not be dusty, glass should not be dirty….inside or out. Hanging hardware should be installed. Paper backing should be added when appropriate. If your work is three dimensional, please ensure it is clean before dropping it off.
Call ahead for an appointment.
Prior to contrary belief, gallery managers do not sit at their desk all day long gazing at all the pretty work that surrounds them. They are VERY busy people. The typical day of a gallery manager involves assisting clients with a large variety of requests and questions, assorted paperwork, maintaining the gallery displays, soliciting artists for upcoming shows, preparing for shows, tearing down shows, preparing marketing materials, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. Please call ahead to schedule a time to meet with the manager. We love to meet new & talented artists….on our terms.
Do your homework.
Is your work a fit for the gallery you are approaching? If you are a “modern” artist your work may not be suitable for a more traditional, representational gallery, no matter how good you are at your craft. Galleries know their market and cater to it. If you’re not sure if you make a good fit, feel free to ask but don’t be discouraged by a “no.” Most managers also know what other galleries in the area are carrying. Feel free to ask for a referral. Also, if your work is not up to the usual standards of the gallery, you may or may not get offered a spot.
Don’t get offended by gallery commission fees.
Fifty percent is the standard commission rate at art galleries. Galleries charge this much because they have bills…rent, electric, phone, salary, marketing and advertising costs, insurance, etc. It is expensive to maintain a high quality, attractive gallery. You don’t give your work away for free. We don’t represent, market or sell your work for free.
Know that you are not the only artist being represented.
Your work will not always have THE best spot in a gallery. Galleries try to rotate work fairly and consistently. Better selling artists will naturally have more/better exposure. They have earned this.
The best advice I can give you is "when in doubt, ask." Again, galleries are always looking for new and interesting artists....your questions shouldn't stand in your way of success.