8 tips to get your art work into a gallery

You have drawings and paintings stacked in your studio and hanging on your walls. Over time you have created a great body of work which has taken you a lot of effort and time. You are selling some art to family and friends but you would like to get to the next level. An exhibition in an art gallery!

Sound familiar? If you are exhibiting for the first time being prepared and knowing how a gallery works is essential.

1. Be prepared
You must have an up to date website with your best pictures online. Having a presence online works wonders. Make sure you have all the relevant information and links on your social media so that you can maximise traffic to you and your website. You should have a website that is regularly maintained and added to. Remove any old work that isn’t particularly relevant anymore. Make sure you have up to date business cards with all current contact information.

Also inquire about the submission policies of the gallery that you are interested, before you turn up at the door with your portfolio. Always make an appointment first.

2. Visit galleries that interest you
First do the research and figure out what sort of gallery would suit your work. Once you have made that choice, go and visit the gallery often and get to know the staff and owner. Follow them and get active on their social media. Enrol on their e-mail list and go to openings of other artists regularly. The more that the gallery sees your face (online and offline) the better.
Get to know the other artists that already exhibit in the gallery. They may be able to give you tips to exhibit your work in the gallery, or even better, give you a referral!

3. Body of work
You need at least 10 paintings that go together as a series of work. Try fitting or hanging them together and see if they need any improvement. Evaluate your own work and be honest about it. If unsure ask other artists for critique on your work. Some artists or galleries offer portfolio critiques which are sometimes useful.

Only present your very best work. If you are good for instance at painting landscapes don’t present portraits even though you might have a couple that you like.

If your work is of local scenes these are usually sold best by local galleries. If your work is of a more international flavour it could be sold in galleries in big cities. Your work still needs some research when seeking a gallery to represent you. It’s not much good turning up and presenting classical work to a gallery when it usually shows abstract work. Some gallery only show specific work such as flora or fauna so beware and do your research before presenting your work.

Your art must be distinctive. You should have your own distinctive and personal style. Whether this is in the form of how you use your paints, what your lighting is like, unusual colour combinations or your choice of subject. You should also have a substantial and constant body of work to show.

Focus on one subject. Present your work as uniquely and with as much enthusiasm as possible. Work on one theme. Make several versions of work on one subject. Think really well about which direction your current body of work is taking you and what story it tells. What is your composition like, what is your palette made up of, what is your artistic vision. How can this be improved on. What is your inspiration. You will need to answer all these questions to move forward. Focus your thoughts and believe in yourself. This will make creating an interesting body of work much easier.

5.Sell yourself
Stepping into a gallery is a bit like going to a job interview. The gallery holder wants to know more about you and your work. Before you meet up, practise talking about your work and your ideas. What makes you and your work unique. It could be the light in your art work, the subjects or the palette.

6. Commission rate
It’s good to have an idea of commission rates before you are accepted. Remembering that the gallery makes money from selling your paintings and your art work is hanging in a public place, being seen by people that wouldn’t usually see them.

7. Rejection is part of life
When you happen to get rejected by a gallery, don’t forget there are plenty more out there. Nobody has anything against you personally, or your work. But you are dealing with people, you must realise that we are all dealing with somebody else’s character and mood of the day. What doesn’t pass today, might well pass tomorrow. There have been many famous artists who have been rejected but they carried on anyway because they believed in their own work and vision.

8. Spread your story
Whether you get into a gallery or not, make sure to share your story with your followers. They can encourage you and spread the word. Let people see your personal story and get engaged with your journey.

Good luck!