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What’s an Exhibition Proposal?

November 13, 2009

artContinuing my series about getting your art into galleries, today let’s look at the exhibition proposal. If you’ve never done one, you may be wondering what it is. If you have some experience with this, hopefully I can provide you with some tips that will make your next proposal even more successful!

So, what is a proposal? It’s the entire package of information all about you and your work that you send to a gallery. It’s your resume, essentially, the purpose of which is to convince curators that your work needs to be in their gallery.

Your standard proposal should consist of six things: a cover letter, an artist statement, a CV, an exhibition proposal, an image list, and images of your work.

It’s important to read the submission guidelines and see what each gallery wants in a proposal. Some specify exactly what information they want from you, and some even specify how they want it bound. Some galleries also require that you fill out an application form. Whatever it is, follow it exactly! Remember, this is like a job interview and if you show them that you can’t follow instructions, it’s just another excuse to throw your proposal out!

If galleries don’t specify what they want in a proposal, it’s always a good idea to include the following:

Cover Letter: This is your introduction, your chance to catch the curator’s attention.

Artist Statement: This is an explanation of your interests, motivations, and reasons behind your art.

CV: Short for Curriculum Vitae, this is like an actual artist resume that covers all of your professional experience.

Exhibition Proposal: I call the entire package the proposal, but this document addresses the specific show that you are submitting to the gallery.

Images of Your Work and Image List: These should represent the best of your work.

I will be covering each of these elements in more detail throughout the next weeks. If you want to stay up to date, subscribe with your email address.

You may also include additional items in your proposal like press releases and catalogues from previous shows. It can be useful to provide curators with information on your work that has been written by someone else.

Remember, though, to read submission guides very carefully! Some galleries won’t accept media clippings.

When putting together your proposal, professionalism is key! You want your information to be laid out in a way that is clear and easy to read. Each page should follow the same format as the others. Check carefully for spelling mistakes and make sure your presentation is nice. I usually put my proposal into a clear folder, unless the gallery specifies that they want it unbound.

That being said, a little bit of creativity can go a long way; you are an artist after all! If you can think of a creative twist that you can put on your proposal that reflects you and your work, and doesn’t get in the way of your message, go right ahead! Anything that will catch the curator’s attention is a good thing!

One other thing I almost always include is a title page. This is a very simple page that has my name and a print of my work. I submit digital images, so this is a good way to provide the gallery with an example of my work that doesn’t need to be plugged into a computer to be viewed.

What’s more important, the statement or the art?

Well, I’ve read guidelines from some galleries that say they won’t look at your images until they’ve read your written material… I’ve also seen some galleries who judge your work before reading your other information. Either way, you want to make sure that both are of the best quality!

Stay tuned for more detailed information on how to put together your statement, CV, etc. Also, don’t forget to check out my article on how to choose the right gallery for your art.

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9 Comments
  1. Emma permalink

    Hi your tips are so great thanks, im submitting to a gallery soon and i was wondering this may be a silly question but do you usually put your cover page (with name and image)before your cover letter? I thought the image would be a better opener as its strong but i do want the most professional look, if this is a no no i’ll avoid it.

    • Hi Emma! It’s great to hear that some of these tips have helped you. I try to write about some of the things that I didn’t know and had trouble finding out about. Yes, I do put my title page before my cover letter. For me, it’s like the cover of a book, it grabs attention and shows the gallery exactly what I’m offering. Others may have a different idea, but that’s the way I like it! Title page first, then cover letter.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. How to Choose the Right Gallery for Your Art | Learn to... Art!
  2. 10 Tips for Writing Your Artist Statement | Learn to... Art!
  3. The Art of the Cover Letter: Tips and an Example | Learn to... Art!
  4. What to Include in Your Curriculum Vitae | Learn to... Art!
  5. Selecting the Art for your Exhibition Proposal | Learn to... Art!
  6. Getting Involved in Your Arts Community | Learn to... Art!
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