Of all the ways to sell art one of the most desirable and prestigious is of course through reputable art gallery representation.
Today we are going to throw away the ‘how to get in an art gallery’ text book. That tired old send-your-portfolio-in-a-stamped-self-addressed-envelope-never-to-be-opened approach is for sissies and kinda-wanna-gonna-be types of artists. You are a mover and a shaker, an art star in the making. You are not going to stand for that. You are going to take some direct action, today, right now, if not sooner!
Okay, we’ll get to the good bit soon, but first a little reflection on the state of play….
The Artist Gallery Relationship
Ah, artists and galleries… The never ending symbiotic relationship of the Art world. It reminds me a little of those little fish that hang around the mouths of sharks, hoping for a few morsels. Sometimes the Gallery is the shark, swimming along snapping up all the prime meat, or occasionally the Artist, who rises to become the top predator, with Galleries hanging around in the corners of their jaws, picking off the prime morsels. As an Artist of course that’s what you want to be, a big fish being chased by lots of little fish who are just willing to clean your teeth to get a bit of what you are having. Okay, we’re probably taking the analogy too far, but you get my drift. Galleries and Artists need each other, and the power dynamic shifts according to how successful the artist or gallery is.
Okay, lets get the bad news out of the way first…
and then we can concentrate on the good stuff.
The trouble is, before you can become top predator in a sea of little artist fish, you have to get a Gallery to ‘need’ you. Mostly they don’t need you. In fact as an Artist trying to hawk your wares to Galleries (or ‘emerging artist’ as they like to label you) you are potentially a distraction, an annoyance, someone to be shoo-ed away. Yes, I know your art is brilliant, and if only they look and see and talk to you the Gallery Directors will suddenly realise the megastar they have before them, but until that time you have to figure out how you are even going to get a ‘foot in the door’.
“Oh no! Not another @#$%# artist!”
Do you know that most good Art Galleries are approached on a daily basis by Artists wanting to be represented? It must be quite tiresome for them, with all that time spent on the phone talking to eager artists, avoiding the phone so they don’t have to talk to eager artists, opening packages from artists, sending packages back to artists with little notes that say ‘thanks but no thanks’. Worse still are those artists who walk in the door, portfolio in hand and expect to have their work looked at, and advice given. As a Gallery Director it must be enough to make you want to run off and hide the store room. “Oh no, not again!”, they must wail internally, “not another bl**dy portfolio to look at…I have to do the accounts today!”
So how do you even stand a chance of getting a Gallery Director to look at your work, given that he or she has probably had it up to the proverbials with emerging artists who should really go back to the cocoons where they came from.