blog 1: Galleries
Help! Where do you start!!
Galleries, Residencies, Competitions, Grants, Merchandise, Fairs and shows, Teaching and workshops, Freelancing, Passive income, Websites, Social media and Online stores - it's all very confusing. In this series of blogs Nicky and Gina are going to run through the many possibilities.
To kick off with we'll discuss Galleries
Having your work exhibited in galleries is not only a great passive income (you can get on with your artwork while someone else is doing the selling!) but also a great way of networking and building a customer base. It might seem really daunting going into a gallery to show your work but there are things you can do to get your foot in the door as well as things you can do to really sell yourself to a gallery
Research – It's really important to research the galleries first . . Will your work fit in?, if it’s a gallery that predominantly sells landscape paintings, they might not have a market for life drawing studies or still life paintings, but they also might be looking for something slightly different or a medium that they don’t showcase a lot of. By doing some research you’ll know if you're offering something refreshing that you can sell them on.
Making contact - Make a phone call to schedule an appointment with the owner to show them your work. Going in in person is a nice idea but with no forewarning it can put people on the spot. People put on the spot generally say no! They might also be quite busy that day and the last thing you want to do is be an inconvenience in their day, the phone call is also quite gutsy and people take notice of this. Emails get forgotten about so easily! A copy and pasted email sent to every gallery in the area is easy to spot and quite offputting.
Portfolio- This is really important, I can't tell you how many times people have walked in to the gallery with just a phone in hand to show me pictures. You really can’t establish anything from this and the ‘oh hang on let me just find this picture’ whilst scrolling isn’t very professional. One of the main problems we have as a gallery is artists professionally displaying their work correctly, so if your portfolio isn’t professional looking and well displayed then there’s not a lot of hope the work to hang is going to be different.
Online presence – it’s a must! The most annoying thing in the world is when you have a really great artist, but can't find them anywhere online! People need to be able to find you, to contact you as does a gallery. Have a strong presence on social media, gallery owners often look here when they are searching for some new artists.
Guest slots - sometimes the best way to be a permanent artist is the longer game. . Getting a foot in the door. If your artwork sells then they might like to add you to their list of permanent artists. At the very least they’ll invite you to exhibit with them at future exhibitions, if you have a few of these every year it can be a nice little income. Likewise gallery open exhibitions are a good way for a gallery to meet you and get to know you.
Vanity galleries - this is when you pay for some space and also pay commission. Do lots of research about the venue, customer base, peak times of the year first It can be expensive but a good way to get noticed.
Extra tips • Make sure you have some crowd pleasers in your portfolio, as a gallery based in Swanage we need lots of pictures of the favourites, Corfe Castle, Old Harry Rocks, Durdle Door. They might seem a bit boring with so much of it out there, but its what sells! Get your business hat on and see it as a challenge to make some art that will sell with a refreshing look.
Display everything nicely! If you have a meeting with a gallery, make sure work is professionally framed, or that you are committed to this, it is a bit of an output, but we can see those Wilkinson's frames a mile off and the display makes a huge difference to customers so it does to the gallery owners as well.
When pricing your work try to make your private sales on a par with the gallery prices. Yes, you pay high commission, but factor in the cost of yourself sitting on a market stall or working on your website, storing your artwork and carrying it around, the location of the gallery and number of sales, the long term exposure to the public, paying a good commission is really worth it. If you want to sell your work more cheaply at markets, as well as at galleries, make different products for each venue. Remember, though, that customers will be annoyed if they have paid more elsewhere. Returning customers are an important part of your art business. Galleries can also be annoyed about it.
Finally don’t take it too hard if they're not ready for your work yet, rejection is part of being an artist unfortunately, lots of opportunities don’t manifest themselves, but everyone’s in the same boat, art is subjective and everyone has different tastes. Persevere and keep applying yourself!
Next time we'll be talking about artist residencies.