There are many galleries that have original artworks for sale to their clients and the public. In every city, there are galleries with a variety of focused styles and themes along with those that have a varied selection.
In order to approach these galleries with artwork, you need to do a few simple things and it is possible that you could find one or more that would carry your original artworks.
Aside from it being helpful to go to an art school or take your art education from a college or university art department program, it is also possible to attend classes and get instruction from a number of other sources and still be an appropriate match to fine art galleries.
Prepare Artwork for Galleries
First, you will need about 20 – 25 art pieces in the same style regardless of the medium used to create them. It helps to enter juried art shows and group fine art shows to add that information to the about your work sheet and bio.
That means, create a body of work such that you can create 20 or more pieces in the same style that is part of it with a theme that is easily recognizable and marketable in the fine art market. It also means to get into group shows with your work and especially, to enter juried shows with some of these pieces or artworks in this style and hopefully win some place ribbons or awards for them.
Write a Bio and About Your Work Page
If any collectors are collecting your work, if there are any prizes you’ve won in juried art shows, if you have been a part of invitation-only art shows – these will be great information to add to your list of credits about your work, as well and go a long way to encourage a fine art gallery to host your work.
Today, the bio and about your work sheet should reflect the most current information about your artwork, the shows where you’ve shown, professional associations where you are a member, collectors who’ve bought your work, ongoing professional development and classes you’ve taken. The artist’s bio and about your work information need to appear on your website, blog and online portfolios.
Photograph Your Work
It takes a lot of work to create the 20 – 25 pieces that form the portfolio elements that you will present to the galleries. These need to be in the same style, even if your body of work also includes other styles that you consider your own and like a lot.
The 20 – 25 pieces that you offer to fine art galleries must be photographed with as true to life colors as possible in as high a resolution as you can get – even 20mpx is available on some point and shoot cameras that are not inhibitively expensive.
Mount and Frame Artworks
Then, these pieces need to be mounted on foam core or bristol board with a neutral ph using archival tape and a framing mat over each one. Typically, these mats are the same color when used for this purpose – all white mats across the 25 pieces or all black.
Each piece of artwork is placed in a clear plastic sleeve that is purchased which is made for this purpose – for portfolios, for large pieces of artworks, or for packaging such as crystal clear packaging envelopes sold in nearly every size.
This set of artworks are placed in a portfolio case which are sold in various sizes and configurations including those for smaller works on paper that look like a very large black bound notebook sized to the artworks’ largest piece.
For watercolor papers that are 22″ x 30″, be sure to get a book or portfolio sized slightly larger and the same is true for the plastic sleeves to hold the work with its mount. An exact fit sized at 22″ x 30″ will not fit and have the extra 1/4″ depth that is taken up dimensionally by the mount and mat.
For canvas artworks, unless they are huge – over 4′ x 4′ or on canvases that are stretched across larger stretchers with the foldover edges painted as part of the work, they need to be framed. That is its own dilemna, since framing is as expensive as it is. Even artworks on paper that you have mounted as described, need to have framing and glass available for each one before the gallery will hang them when they say yes to you. It will be up to you to get that framing done for all of the pieces they accept.
Make an Online Portfolio
After writing the bio and about your work pages, building them into a website for your work, a contact page and portfolio online, get physical print copies of them to hand out with your work at shows, when approaching a gallery owner or curator, or to send by snail mail as needed. Make sure an keep updated copies of these handy in a google doc to grab quickly for emails to galleries and juried fine art shows, too.
The artist’s bio should read more like a quick endpaper description of an author that is commonly used on books, rather than a serious interpretation of why you are an artist. Part of what this bio should do, is be the kind of thing you would want said to others when the gallery owner tells them about who you are and how your work is special and so wonderful that they just need to see it right now.
Things to Include About Your Work
On the “about your work” page you write, it should include –
- places your work has been shown
- prizes you’ve won at juried shows
- education in art and classes you’ve taken
- professional associations you belong to in art
- community organizations you belong to socially, such as Rotary, Lions’ Club, etc.
- collectors and large collections who purchased your artworks
- special uses of your artworks for newsletters, magazine covers or stories, posters
- any purchase of your artworks / sculptures for the public – site specific installations, etc.
- any special groups of artists to which you belong for group shows or studio space
- classes you’ve given in art, sculpture, talks and podcasts
Note – remember to always put your name, contact info, email address, cellphone number and website address on every single page of every single paper that any show or gallery staff or art publisher might handle. These pages do end up separated and it will do no good to have a page of your brilliance being seen by someone if they can’t find out who belongs to it and how to get ahold of you easily when it matters.
Know the Galleries You Want to Approach
Once all these pieces are assembled, there are two other critical and important requirements you need to fulfill, both of which are fairly time-consuming – but they are, must-dos.
One must-do, is to check through information about the galleries that are available in the city where you live or the largest city near where you live, or the largest city in your state, as the case may be. And, to check through information about fine art galleries in your genre that are known to be selling those kinds of works frequently and successfully hosting gallery openings and shows dedicated to the kinds of work you do – more or less.
Two – or the second must-do, is to write down and memorize how you will bring an audience to these galleries which they otherwise do not enjoy or want access to getting and have every reason for wanting a way to attract those specific audiences of art buyers or potential art buyers.
Know What Gallery Pays For and What You Pay To Do
Galleries charge a percentage of every sale which can range from a low of 20% that is rare, to 60% for anyone whose work is completely unknown. Any gallery, agent or other avenue that charges to review your work for possible inclusion, is a sure sign that it is not a valid entry point into the marketing of your work to the fine art communities.
There are other costs too, that artists are commonly asked to cover, including the costs of hosting an opening night gala showing the works, posters or prints for the artist to sign that are part of the show of your work, promotional materials printing and mailing costs, and any other promotional costs of letting the public know about your work being at this gallery, (these usually extend beyond the show of your work, if the gallery continues carrying your works).
Aside from those costs, other promotional efforts for your work and the initial showing of your work are commonly yours to do. Many artists have found ways to get their artwork reviewed by Art in America and ArtForum or other fine art magazines.
Other Ways to Promote Your Work Must Be Used Too
Some artists have found ways to get a feature story about their work and its debut in a gallery or in the marketplace covered by these and other fine art publications.
Wikipedia has a list of them, found here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_art_magazines which you can use to gather information about what is selling in the fine art markets, what is wanted as far as popular styles and themes, which galleries are having group shows where it may be possible to get an early entrance into the gallery’s show opportunities, and also to find many gallery addresses, info and contacts.
Regardless, promotion for your work today is almost totally yours to do and that includes sending press releases and doing other promotional types of work. It can be podcasts, write-ups in local papers or newsletters of community organizations and even those of art groups, hosting seminars or workshops, being on talk radio and tv shows – all of those things.
And, it is up to you to do things like sending postcards out to those who have bought your work or who have shown an interest in it, those who have supported your work with help or funding and those you want to interest in seeing your work to possibly buy it or support it.
Possibilities of Art Publishers / Limited Edition Prints
Fine art markets have art publishers specific to it which you can also pursue and that includes limited edition prints and illustrations, as well as other types of fine art publications. The costs of limited edition print runs can be difficult to cover unless an investor is found who will back part of the costs and you can show the popularity of your original fine art image you expect to be able to sell at a good price, if the run is made.
Many fine artists are engaging in these limited edition print runs for their works that have shown some popular demand and it has been a very normal part of doing fine art in a business-like way since about the 1980’s.
Remember, however, that fine art publishing houses that are legitimate – do not require the artists and illustrators to put up money for the limited edition run. The making a print as a limited edition independently of the fine art publishers, normally requires that the artist and possible a co-investor or partner, put up the money to print the edition, package and market it.
When an art publisher makes a deal with you to publish your work, they are negotiating for certain rights to profit from the work you created and to do so either with you – or to buy those rights in some measure for some period of time, from you. Suffice it to say, you should be getting money – not paying it out, because they are in the business of making their money from these images that were not created by them and do not belong to them.
One other note, aside from having your own website and possibly a blog about your art, there are portfolio platforms online that are amazing which will host your portfolio of artworks, so the public can see it and gallery owners can see it from there – long before you can get an appointment for the gallery to view your portfolio in person.
Gather as Much Information As Possible About Galleries for Your Artworks
However, that does bring up an important and last point – once you find a number of galleries that have work in the same neighborhood of focus as yours – then it is time to get online with their websites and get more information about them.
After that, it is time to do some phone calls, emails or response forms on their website to ask for them to see your portfolio. Some galleries have their requirements and process online – it used to be, send slides but now those can be sent as email attachments provided the photos of your work are as clear and color-true to the works as possible.
Every major city in the world have galleries as well as all the big US cities – but they are still selling to a demographic that is small and specific. Some galleries in certain US cities like Washington, D.C. may favor almost entirely 18th century work with only a few contemporary styles being acceptable within the market niche they are serving of political, law, lobbying and government offices.
Other places may want predominantly ocean paintings or nautical art, sailing yachts and big ships on stormy waves. And, remember that what was avant-garde a week ago, or a month ago, or a year ago now is far removed from what may be considered that way today and right this minute.
And, despite what anyone may tell you in the arts communities – most galleries don’t necessarily want the avant-garde anyway, unless that is specific to their business model and marketing plan – or if that is what their known customer base is hungry to see, to have and to own.
- cricketdiane, 03-19-2018