This is most assuredly one the questions I am presented with the most: What do I have to do to get representation/exhibition in a gallery?
I am also sure many of you are faced with the same dilemma. While I do have some answers that may help I must also tell you there is no tried and true method. Each and every gallery you approach will have a different “personality.”
Just like most things, in order to accomplish your goal of representation you will need a plan. You will need to be sure you have the time and dedication to do this properly and professionally. It won’t work to show up at a gallery and simply ask them if they would be interested in showing your work. OK. I know you are all much smarter than that, but I have heard from more than a few gallerists about that same scenario happening.You can’t take this lightly.
So, with that in mind, I would suggest that you select a local gallery that shows work that would complement yours. Take some time to visit the gallery and chat with the staff. See if you feel comfortable with them. Then, shortly afterward, go back in with a physical portfolio that should consist of the following items:
• 10-15 of your best hard-copy images
• A CD of that same work, plus a few more of your best images
• A business card with ALL your info on it: email address, phone, web address
• All contained in a simple, inexpensive presentation folder
By having all that in hand it makes you look professional and they will take you more seriously than if you simply walked in and asked for a card.
Approach one of the staff and ask them if they are accepting submissions. If they are tell them you have been in the gallery on several occasions and that you think your work would fit in well with their current inventory, and that you would like to leave a portfolio of your current work for their consideration. Rather than calling first to see if you can make and appointment, if you are there in person it is more difficult for them to say no if you are standing right in front of them.
Even if they aren’t accepting submissions (at this time) at least you will have made a physical impression. You will have let them know you are serious. Few will reject the portfolio if you have it in hand. It may go on a slush pile to be viewed by an intern or you may get lucky and it may get tossed on to the desk of the gallery director (wishful thinking, here!).
This will be a good trial run for you. Odds are the person you talk to will accept the portfolio, say thank you, and turn to talk to someone else. At this time, you can go outside, jump up and click your heels together! You’ve done it.
Granted, however, this will only be the first step in what could very well be a long journey, but you will have done the most important thing in this process: You have taken the first step.