Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 Steps to Gallery Representation. From Patrick....

With the summer art season just around the corner, the time is perfect to start planning for increasing your gallery representation.  With a little over six weeks until the first of June you have sufficient time to create and compile a cohesive body of work, get the work organized, compose a powerful and effective portfolio, choose and research appropriate markets and galleries, and prepare yourself to effectively and successfully approach the best galleries for your work. Approached systematically, these five steps assure the greatest chances for success in securing good gallery representation.

I have owned Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, for almost ten years, and I've been in the gallery business for over 18 years. During that time, I have worked with scores of artists who have built successful professional careers by establishing long-term relationships with galleries. Those relationships began when the artists carefully and confidently approached galleries to carry their work.

Recently, I published my book "Starving" to Successful, The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting into Galleries and Selling More Art. My goal in writing the book was to give aspiring professional artists like you an inside understanding of how galleries operate and how they select artists. I wanted to give artists concrete steps they could take to prepare to approach galleries.

Of all of the advice I give in the book, the five steps listed below are the most important in ramping up and preparing to approach galleries.

STEP 1 | Create a Cohesive and Consistent Body of Work

One of the key elements I look for as I am contemplating whether to represent an artist is whether the artist's work is consistent. I have found, to establish a collector-base for an artist's work, it is critical to present the collectors with artwork I can easily tie together. Consistency breeds familiarity and confidence - key ingredients in getting collector buy-in. 

When I call for consistency, I am not asking you to create the same piece of artwork over and over - I am simply suggesting that you strive to tie the work together thematically or stylistically. I work with a number of artists who do an excellent job of maintaining variety in their work, while at the same time, showing strong consistency. Visit my gallery website and see the work of GuilloumeRobert Burt, orDave Newman to get a sense of the cohesion I recommend you strive for in your art.

Think in terms of increasing your productivity to create a large body of work. Many of the artists I am working with are creating between 40-95 (and sometimes even more) pieces per year. Think about those numbers for a minute and what you could do if you were creating that much marketable work in a year. In my book, I share techniques that will help you become more productive, while maintaining the quality of your art.

STEP 2 | Get Organized

As you start working with galleries, it becomes critical that you have complete control over your inventory. It's vital that you have a good record-keeping system in place so you know where all of your artwork is located. If you wait until you are already showing in galleries to get organized, it will be too late. Commit to organizing your work.

To maintain organization, consider using an inventory numbering system to track your work. Using inventory numbers removes the possibility of confusion between similar works and allows you to systemize your inventory.

Also, physically attach inventory information to your artwork. Write the inventory number, title, size, and medium in indelible ink on your stretcher bars if you are a painter. Grind the inventory number into the base of your work if you are a sculptor. Make the information easily accessible for you and your galleries.

I have also developed a simple inventory tracking system for artists called ArtTracker. The software allows you to keep track of your work as it moves from gallery to gallery.

STEP 3 | Prepare an Effective Portfolio

Your portfolio is the most effective tool you can create to give galleries easy access to your images. An efficient portfolio is concise, includes not only images, but also information about the art, and is kept up-to-date with your latest work.

While many formats exist for presenting your portfolio, I propose you create and use an uncomplicated package. Employing a presentation folder from your local office supply store will allow you to present your work efficiently, and, because the format is inexpensive to reproduce and easy to keep up to date, it will be easy to maintain multiple copies of the portfolio.

Watch a brief presentation on creating a powerful portfolio

STEP 4 | Find the Right Galleries for your Art

Many artists are paralyzed in the quest for finding gallery representation because they don't know where to begin. There are a vast number of galleries out there in a variety of markets - deciding where to begin can be overwhelming.

I suggest a straightforward approach for selecting the galleries you are going to approach; start with convenient markets. You can begin by tapping into your local market. Become an expert at everything that is going on in your local art scene. Join gallery mailing lists, attend openings, and network with other artists. You want to be prepared to take advantage of any opportunities to show in local galleries.

After surveying your local market, consider attacking markets in places you already plan to visit. If you have friends or family members you are planning to visit this summer, start researching galleries in the area where they reside. If you are planning on taking a vacation, allow for a day or two of gallery research and approaches.

Wherever you go, look for opportunities to look for galleries. In my book, I give you some of the specifics for which to look.

STEP 5 | Get Out There!

It may surprise you to learn that I advocate a personal approach to galleries. I have found, by interviewing artists for my book and from my personal experience, there is no approach to galleries that beats making a personal visit to the gallery. Mailing in a portfolio, trying to get an appointment with an owner, or following gallery submission guidelines are all highly-ineffective ways to approach galleries.

In my book, I share techniques for professionally and confidently getting your work in front of decision makers.

If you are ready to step up your marketing efforts and start showing your work in galleries, or if you are already in galleries and want to expand your reach, buy my book today and make this summer the most productive and profitable summer you have ever had as you successfully begin building relationships with galleries.

Order today and save $5 on  "Starving" to Successful, plus get free shipping. Order ArtTracker, our inventory tracking software and save even more.

"Starving" to Successful (paperback)ArtTracker | Simple Inventory Tracking for Artists + "Starving" to Successful Book
regularly $24.95 + s&hregularly $55 + $24.95 = $79.95
Order "Starving" to Successful for only $19.95 ($5 off the Amazon list price) and we'll include free shippingOrder "Starving" to Successful plus ArtTracker (download) together and save $20 - plus free shipping on the book.
$19.95 (FREE Shipping & Handling)$59.95 (FREE s&h for Book, software is a download)
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Want to read "Starving" to Successful now? Order for Kindle
"Starving" to Successful | The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art

Praise for "Starving" to Successful
I recently read your book, "Starving to Successfull" and followed it.

Went to Santa Fe, got gallery representation. In the first two weeks, the gallery sold two of my paintings!

Thanks for a great book.

Artfully yours, Kay
I took my portfolio to Aspen and got accepted at the second gallery I walked into!  I love your formula - that now makes five galleries successfully secured using your techniques.

Leslie Begert - Austin, TX
Your book "Starving to Successful" has become my bible.  It is the best way to get focused and the material is beyond helpful - it is saving my sanity.  I am more organized because of the book, I waste less time on useless projects because the book gives me goals to work for.  It is all marked up with my notes and I refer to it as I am writing information for my portfolios.  This was the best book I ever read for artists.  I highly recommend it.  Thank-you for writing this book, Jason. 


Kathy Hebert
Xanadu Gallery | 7039 E. Main St. #101 | Scottsdale, AZ 85251 | 480.368.9929 | 866.483.1306 | info@xanadugallery.com | www.xanadugallery.com
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