Friday, 12 June 2009

Approaching a Gallery

A short guide to applying to art galleries by Keighley Arts Factory.

Approaching galleries to show your work can be a nerve wracking experience. It can feel as if you are offering yourself up for humiliation and that you are wearing a T shirt that states KICK HERE!
At the Arts Factory our ethos is not to sit in judgement of other people's art but instead we consider two questions:
* Will this artist's work be the kind of thing our visitors come to see?
* Will our gallery suit this artist's work?

Presenting Your Submission.
The purpose of your submission is to "showcase" your art and give the gallery a taste that will leave it wanting more. At KAF we ask for 3 items for submission: images, a CV and an artist's statement. Other galleries may only want images and a statement or they may want references too. If the gallery hasn't been specific then contact them to check their submission requirements.
These are the most important part of your submission. Does the gallery accept jpegs by email, a disk, photographs or (rarely) slides? Avoid emailing images that are difficult to open or disks that won't load onto another computer (test them out first). Size matters - images that are too large to view without scrolling on the computer won't get looked at and thumbnail images that don't enlarge on the screen won't give an adequate view of your work. Texture, scale and details of your art will be lost if the your image is less than 2" in size.Images should be clear, bright and a true depiction of your work in colour and tone. Avoid photographing framed pictures under glass and, if you need a background, stick with white. Make sure there is a list of sizes attached to the images.
Curriculum Vitae (or resume)
Not all galleries bother with CVs but a CV is a tool that tells a gallery who you are and where you are coming from. Hand written CVs will be discarded and so will disorganised, erratic ones. Choose a plain font, type out your CV and print it on crisp quality paper. Keep the information simple: full name, date of birth, address, education, employment and experience. If you didn't go to art school then list your art interests and any courses you attended. If you belong to any art guilds or societies then add these too. If you don't work as a professional artist then write about your key skills. Don't be put off - self taught artists have an equal chance of being accepted by a gallery - your images should speak for you.
Artist's Statement.
Art is a journey on which we explore ideas, discover new concepts, work through issues and experiences. Your statement is a written representation that will take the reader on this journey, exploring where you come from artistically and how you got here. Your statement helps the curator or selection committee to understand about your work.So make it vibrant, make it enthusiastic, make it live. Avoid trotting out the same old claptrap (artistspeak) and, instead, be unique, be original, be different. Think about your use of english. You didn't observe it - you saw it. You didn't experience it - you felt it. (Also avoid talking about the "human condition" - dare to be different)!

After you have sent your submission.
* Give the gallery a few days - if you haven't recieved an acknowledgement then contact them - did they get it?
* If they are considering your submission ask them how long this will take? If the deadline goes by without contact call/email them again and ask if they have made a decision yet?
* If you are rejected ask them, very politely, why. They could give you some tips to help you with future submissions.
* If the gallery says "we cannot offer you anything at the moment but will keep your application on file" contact them again in 6 months and ask if they are in a position to consider it again.
* If it's an outright refusal make sure your have sent a stamped addressed envelope so that you can send your images, CV and statement to another gallery.

One final word about "knock-backs". They are not personal. Don't wait until you have the courage to apply to another gallery - send a new submission out straight away. Do what many authors do, keep a file for your rejections and read them when you are famous!

Keighley Arts Factory

1 comment:

  1. This is very good information. One thing I'm wondering is; does an artist send their interest to a gallery without visiting it first? Or, is it ok to just submit interest without first visiting the gallery.