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How to Choose the Right Gallery for Your Art

November 10, 2009

Getting your art into a gallery isn’t only a matter of producing great work. It’s also about finding the right fit. Finding the right gallery is like buying a new pair of pants: you have to know which type is going to look good on you, and once you’ve chosen the type, you need to try some on!

Shop Around!

The words “Art Gallery” should be fairly straight forward, but it can actually mean quite different things to different people. The reason is that there are different kinds of art galleries. There are the big, government funded kinds that act as museums and show art from throughout history. There’s the kind that show the work of well-established artists. Then there’s the kind that shows art from emerging artists.

These art galleries also have different goals. Some seek to provide art education to the public while others seek to sell art and make money.

You will have the best results if you submit to a gallery that fits your work. How do you know? That’s where the research comes in!

Gallery websites are a great resource for finding out information about their programming. Most galleries have a “mandate” which outlines their goals and interests. Often, they will indicate whether they support established, mid-career, or emerging artists. If the gallery is a commercial one, focused on selling art, their website will often feature individual works with either a price or a way to inquire about purchasing.

Try to match yourself with a gallery that has similar goals as you do. If you want to sell your work, look for a commercial gallery. If your art is contemporary and experimental, consider submitting to an artist-run centre.

Try It On!

The best way to find the right gallery is to actually check them out! If you can, visit as many galleries as you can. You will get a feel for the atmosphere of the place, and most importantly, you will get an idea of the kind of work they display.

You want to find a gallery where your art would look like it belonged. Some galleries have an unspoken (or spoken) tendency to show more abstracts, or more photography, etc. If you do traditional landscape paintings, you will have a hard time getting into a gallery that primarily exhibits video work.

Sometimes, it’s not possible to visit all the galleries that you’re interested in. This is where the internet comes into play! Check out the websites to see if they list their exhibitions. A lot of galleries will post their current and past exhibits, usually with at least one photo. If there’s no photos, google the artist to get a visual of their work. Again, look for galleries that your work might fit into.

Make a Purchase!

When you’ve found a gallery, do something about it! Put together your best proposal and submit it. Your job is to now convince the gallery that your work belongs there, whether it’s a commercial or a fine art gallery, whether it’s for emerging or mid-career artists.

Better yet, find several galleries you’re interested in and send out a couple proposals!

Don’t get discouraged if you get the dreaded rejection letter. It’s one of those necessary evils of the art world. I have received many more rejection letters than I have acceptance letters.

Remember, if you don’t submit, you won’t get anywhere! The risk of rejection is absolutely worth it!

  1. thanks!! I know what I’m going to do, but my rechargeable batteries or my camera don’t work, HOPE it is the batteries!! Was going to take pics along with it:)

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