You Found an Art Gallery That Likes Dark Art, Now What? Ten Tips to Get Accepted

You did your research and you found some galleries that have work represented that you feel fits with your style of dark art.Great! But now what? How do you get your work in their gallery? Here are some tips to help you from some who used to work in an art gallery.

  1. Don't walk into the gallery with all your artwork and demand for someone to look at it right away. This is a sure way to not get your work represented by the gallery. Always contact the gallery by phone or email first. Gallery owners are busy and not always at the gallery. They won't appreciate you showing up without an appointment. When you do show up you want to be able to talk to the right person, not a sales person who can't help you. The gallery owner will want to see some of your work online before making an appointment with you to make sure your work is a good fit. Which brings us to the next tip.
  2. Make sure your work is on the internet to make it easy for gallery owners to find you and see your work. As I mentioned above, gallery owners are busy people and they don't have time to waste. They will want a link to your work sent to them before they meet with you. There are plenty of places to make a free website so you better start learning how. They want to get a since of how serious and professional you are and if you will benefit the gallery.
  3. Start building a social media presence. Gallery owners want artists that are going to bring in new visitors. It's the chicken and the egg. You'll have to prove that your work will bring people in. This is going to be hard for new artists so get started now. You may have to sell in some less glamorous places like the the flee market for a while.
  4. Have a "resume" of shows and other galleries you have shown in with sales numbers to prove to the gallery owner that your work sales. Put this information on your website as well. You never know who might stumble upon you.
  5. If you don't hear back from the gallery, do not continuously contact them. You are just going to annoy the owner and employees. There are many reasons they are not contacting you: they are not interested, their schedule is full for the year, they are extremely busy and haven't had time. If you are annoying they may never contact you. Be patient and you may here back months later when they have an opening.
  6. Have prints of your originals ready for sale. I know our gallery liked this because not everyone can afford an original. A lot of small sales are better than no sales. Die hard lovers of your work will buy the originals, but casual shoppers looking for a  gift will buy the prints. 
  7. If your work is accepted make sure to read the contract before you sign! How much is the galleries commission? What are the time frames for you to get paid if your piece sells? What does the gallery get if you get commission work through the gallery after the show? Make sure everything is defined in the contract. Gallery commissions can range from 30% to 50%.  Anything more than that I recommend not doing business with them. If they are charging you a fee don't do business with them. They aren't in the business of selling art, they are in the business of making money from artists.
  8. Follow all instructions the gallery gives you relating to how the work must be hung and presented. Most galleries will have guidelines on their website or a handout to give you. At the gallery I worked for all work was required to be framed cleanly with matts and have a wire for hanging the art. They have these rules so your art will match the hanging system the gallery uses. If the gallery has to work harder to hang your work because you didn't follow the guide, they will not invite you back. Some may not show your work at all.
  9. Make a list of all the works you show in the gallery. Give a copy to the gallery and keep a copy for yourself with the contract. You want to do this in case pieces sell. If you don't know what artworks you have at the gallery, the gallery might sell a piece and never pay you for it.
  10. Don't be difficult while working with the gallery or they will not work with you again. If you insist on hanging the work yourself in a special configuration with purple lighting that you expect the gallery to buy for you, they will laugh and you will never show there again.
I hope yo find these tips useful. Now hurry up and get your work out there!

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