What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

dustin bailard - elf vampire painting

MentorMe is a free resource for creatives who wish to learn from their peers.

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine mentors encourage, guide and inspire emerging artists as they explore their creativity, develop their technical skills and find their personal style. This edition of MentorMe coincided with the relaunch of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, so to celebrate we wanted to give you, our tribe, an important Special Edition.

In this edition, we hear the thoughts and opinions of nine prominent gallerists around a very important issue for all artists, that of seeking and maintaining gallery representation ie. how you get seen and shown by a gallery, and once you are, what are they major do’s and don’ts to ensure a happy mutually beneficially relationship.

MentorMe Edition 3 Mentors:

In Edition 3 Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s Mentors respond to the following questions:

  • How do artists get their work seen/shown by a gallery?
  • What is the biggest NO NO for artists when seeking Gallery representation?
  • After artists are given the opportunity to exhibit, what are the top 5 do’s and don’ts for artists working with galleries?

Below 3 of the 9 mentors respond to the following question:

What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

Naoto Hattori pop surreal painting - What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

Artist: Naoto Hattori [Beinart Gallery]

What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

Corinne & Jon Beinart, Directors of Beinart Gallery:

“The absolute biggest NO NO for us is when people approach us, unannounced, in person at the gallery to share their work. This is even more of a “no no” at an opening! We have had quite a few people approach us at another artists opening and expect us to stop to look through their portfolio. Sometimes they just hold their phone in front of our face and flick through images. This is not a good way to show your art to us. And it is incredibly disrespectful to the artist who is opening their show. Often artists work for many, many months, sometimes even longer, to build a body of work for an exhibition and on opening night we are 100% dedicated to them. Also, opening nights are very busy and as well as working with artists we are very busy speaking with collectors and making sure that everyone who came out to see the art is having a wonderful night. We rarely have time to sit for a moment much less look at someone’s portfolio. Also, you are doing yourself a disservice.

If you are sharing your art with a new gallery, make sure you do it in a way that ensures they have ample time to look through it with you. This is your artwork so don’t rush it! The best way to do this is to follow the gallery’s submission process. Generally, this begins with reading the gallery’s submission guidelines carefully and sending an email. If the gallery thinks that your work is a good fit, they will follow up with you and may even arrange a time for a studio visit, for you to visit the gallery space or, if there is distance, a phone/email/skype conversation. If the gallery does not think your work is a good fit, don’t despair. Don’t continue to push it with them – keep going and approach another gallery. Another gallery may feel your work is a perfect fit for them! Remember that is is part of a gallery’s job to connect your work to an audience and collector base. Every gallery’s audience and collector base is different as is the personal taste of every gallery director/curator. Find multiple galleries that show work that is somehow related to your work, either in theme, style or aesthetic, and after submitting keep up the search. Ultimately you will find one that is a good fit.”

Daniel Dust realistic surreal portrait painting  - What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

Artist: Daniel Dust [Distinction Gallery]

What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

Melissa Walker, Director of Distinction Gallery:

“I would say the biggest no no is submitting work to a gallery without first looking at what type of work they exhibit. I am continually getting submissions that are far outside the realm of what we exhibit. My other pet peeve is when artists walk into the gallery with art and expect the staff to drop everything to look at art. I personally look at every email submission, which is the only way we view artwork.”

dustin bailard - elf vampire painting

Artist: Dustin Bailard [Future Gallery]

What Is the Biggest No No for Artists When Seeking Gallery Representation?

David DeRue, Director of Future Gallery:

“Never start up drama or trouble for those involved with this tightly networked community. Artists should make sure to be able to maintain emotional and professional stability, or at least just hold back from getting involved just yet. Yet, this doesn’t stop some from their eccentric behaviour from burning down their bridges. Blacklisted: Why waste our time with these types?

Much of our success comes from the love and respect many of our artists share for this way of life; helping one another to learn, promote, and build into a tiered network. We are always looking for those who work hard and understand this mutual respect. Causing drama works for reality TV and social media – but we really don’t have time or energy to waste on this. I don’t think a single gallery does.”

To read the other Mentors’ answers to this question or any other in Edition 3 please click here to download our FREE Artist Resource, MentorMe.


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