Exhibiting your artwork: approaching art galleries
So what if you feel confident enough to show your crafts to the scary outside world? You have a nice collection that you would want to get exhibited in one of the art galleries in your area – but you have never done it before and you’re not sure what to expect. In this post I will help you understand how to go about exhibiting your artwork and the best ways on approaching art galleries.
When asked for advice, surprisingly enough most people will tell you to take on sales practices and step into a gallery with a leather (!) band portfolio and try to pitch them on your work, using persuasive techniques and, of course, your bright smile and friendly face. While this is of course one way to do it, I myself find that a more gradual approach will get you better results and build better relationships with the people that will help you improve your art career in the future.
Visit their shows frequently
Visiting other artist’s shows will help you understand the style and preferred collections of the art gallery, and will also give you some inspiration on your own work and ways of presenting your collection. If it were your show, how would you arrange things? Would you do things differently? See if you can attend the opening, so you have the chance to talk to the artist and exchange business cards. Check their website and drop them a note when you get home, following up on their work and giving your honest opinion on the show. Everyone appreciates a short review, and contacting them after your first encounter will help them remember you.
Talk to the visitors
If you can’t make it to an opening, try visiting the art gallery at a busy time, so you have the chance to talk to other visitors about the work and get to know how they feel about it. Also ask them for a business card (if they’re doing business) or ask if you can call or email them for some comments on your work. Don’t hesitate doing this, most individuals would love the opportunity and would be flattered that you asked them for their opinion. After all, people visiting art galleries are a big part of your target audience, so adding them to your address book is always a good idea.
Become a regular
Art gallery owners are usually very happy to see regular visitors and will undoubtedly want to chat with you when they start to recognize your face. Just like you, they want to know who their customer is and will value your opinion. When you get the chance to talk to them, don’t try to pitch and sell them your work just yet, but give a review of the past exhibitions, showing them you truly care about the gallery. Connecting with others is usually done best by teaching them something about themselves, and after that, explaining more about yourself.
Do have your portfolio ready and make sure you have the bright smile and the friendly face, but make sure to build a good relationship with the gallery and the owner first, before you approach them with your sales pitch.