Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Approaching Museums and Galleries: Commercial Gallery 2

So, you finally got your chance to present your work, and the gallery offers you a show….

The gallery wants to sell work. They usually represent several artists at any given time, so it is in your best interest to help convince them to really sell more of your work. Everything you can do proactively will help this reach the best outcome. To aid in this, be sure to provide the gallery with reliable ways to reach you by phone, email, etc. Some galleries take their own images for promotional purposes, but if you have them, provide the gallery professional high quality and correctly sized and cropped photographs/jpegs. It always is a positive thing to link your gallery to your website and cross promote the exhibition.

It doesn’t hurt to ask the gallery what they might need from you to build their marketing materials advertising. It is inexpensive now to have a photo book made of your most recent series. You should have your biography, resume and artist statements ready to deliver. When dropping off your paintings, schedule the delivery as a meeting with the owner/manager/director if at all possible. The more you can relay your information about the work, the more the gallery will be able to express those things to its clients.

When the long awaited day arrives, and you have your show, attend your own opening/reception, on time, dressed appropriately for the event. Invite people to the opening from your own mailing list, the gallery will be glad to work with you to strengthen the relationship with prior customers. In that vein, you can ask the gallery for feedback from their clients about your work. The gallery will work with you to establish a price list, but in advance - keep your prices consistent in all your locations of sales (studio, fairs, other galleries, online etc). This is a point of professionalism. And if a client sees a work at the gallery show but a short period after the show approaches you directly – remember that you are trying to establish a relationship with the gallery, and that it is not conducive to a good long-term relationship if you undercut your own gallery. Similarly, it is not productive to be present in too many galleries in the same area, with the exact same body of work. If the work is very different, a couple of galleries can actually make sense.
Not everyone might find the right fit in for-profit commercial galleries. One excellent alternative might be an artist-run, or cooperative gallery. More about that - in another post.

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