Right, so I'm assuming you're reading this because you're an artist and you are thinking of approaching an art gallery to see if they'll exhibit your work. Maybe you've never exhibited your work in a gallery before, maybe you already show in lots of galleries or maybe you're just after some tips. Well hopefully these tips should help you before you start.
The Golden Hare Gallery has an application process for exhibiting work. We do this as we get approached by artists on a daily basis and its easier to have a level playing field and to get all the answers to the questions we want answered.
1. Research the Gallery
Ok, so firstly, my main advice would be to visit the gallery, if you can't visit, then do as much research as possible. Search for their website and all their social media channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. Find out the gallery owner's name so you can be more personal when contacting them.
I'm Laura & this is my co-worker Puddle
2. Find out about their application process
Do they have a form like we do? Do they accept CV's and artist's statements? Do they prefer a phone call? Do they prefer to find artists themselves? If you can't find out how they like artists to apply then email them asking their process... DO NOT turn up at their gallery with your work. Its likely that they'll be busy, or the owner and decision maker won't even be there.
3. Look at the type of work they sell
This is really important, take time to get a feel of the style of the gallery. It's important to me that my gallery has a cohesive feel to it, everything needs to work together as a body of artwork. This doesn't mean your work should be the same as the work that they're currently selling; this would probably result in your work not being shown, but think about whether your work would compliment the other pieces in the gallery.
4. Research their artists
Look at the artists they currently represent. Have you ever shown your work alongside these artists before, whether this was at a show, or in another gallery? Look at the calibre of art show or gallery the other artists exhibit at, does this coincide with shows or galleries your work has been at? Also consider whether you want your work shown alongside these artists, look at the quality of work, it can be damaging for you and your brand to be shown alongside artists that aren't as high a standard as you.
Oh the pricing question... one I get asked often. I have a strong stance on pricing. At Golden Hare Gallery we ONLY take artists who sell their work at the same price across the board, whether this is a sale from your studio, through you at a show or through the Gallery. Your work should be priced at a point where even if you sell it through a gallery, after their commission has been deducted, you will still be happy with the take home. I don't take artists who differ their pricing depending on the commission. I sell all the artwork in the gallery online and I make sure I tell all my customers the name of the artist that made the piece, it is very damaging for both the artist and the gallery if the customer finds the piece for a different price elsewhere.
Another point about pricing- make sure your work is in a similar price bracket to the other work in that gallery. If your work sells in the thousands, and they mainly sell work in the hundreds, then its unlikely that your work will sell well to their customer base.
7. Can you keep up with demand?
Its all very well getting accepted to lots of different galleries but if you can't re-stock them on a regular basis they're not going to keep you on as an artist. I often get customers asking for commissions, if thats not something you do then fine, but make that clear from the start, and a 4-6 week turn around should be the absolute maximum time you keep a gallery waiting for stock. Choose your galleries carefully so you can keep them all with a healthy stock of your work.
Consider the location of the gallery, make sure you don't have more than one gallery in the same county/area. Some galleries actually have rules on this, personally I just ask to be the only stockist in Ampthill, but I know some galleries differ from this and have a larger area they want exclusivity in. I'd rather my artists weren't inhibited when applying to other galleries, and my artists success is paramount to me. Also have a think about how you'll deliver work, if you're happy to post your work then this shouldn't be a problem, but if you make something large like furniture then this would need to be a consideration.
9. Ask other artists
Hopefully you're still reading, as these last two are some of the most important. Talk to other artists who have exhibited at the gallery before. A gallery should be good at communicating with their artists; they should keep meticulous records of sales and pay on a regular basis without being prompted. It might be worth popping a couple of emails off to their current artists to see how they find working with the gallery. At Golden Hare Gallery I pay all my artists on the first day of the month for the work sold in the month previously, I send updated stock lists too, so they know when they need to re-stock, and which pieces are selling well.
10. Be Selfish
Finally... be selfish. What is the gallery going to do for you? Think about what you would like from the gallery, are you after online exposure and if so do they have a good website and do they use social media to attract customers to the gallery and to your work. Online exposure can be invaluable to raising your profile and becoming a 'known' artist. Look at how they're displaying work, some galleries stack work up on the floor, or hide work away in a cupboard, whilst others take time to visually merchandise the artwork in the gallery.
I hope some of this advice has been useful if you were thinking of approaching a gallery. I have run my art gallery for 3 years now, so this is based on my knowledge of working from the inside. Good luck with finding a gallery that is right for you, and remember not to be disheartened if you get your work turned down by a gallery, it can be for numerous reasons, but if you follow the guide above then hopefully you'll find the right gallery for your work.
Feel free to share this with all your artist friends!
Laura & Puddle xx
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New artists & designers coming to Golden Hare Gallery found at Top Drawer London