Art Gallery Representation - 8 Questions to Ask!

By Lori McNee, Guest Blogger - Many aspiring artists are intimidated by the idea of finding art gallery representation.  These hopeful artists are not sure when it is the right time to take that leap of faith.

But, leaping from aspiring to professional artist takes more than just faith.  It takes hard work, professionalism, and talent.

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself BEFORE you venture into the professional world of finding art gallery representation.

1.  Is my art technically good?

  • Getting validation from a professional art gallery is the goal of any aspiring artist. But, approaching a gallery before you are ready is kind of like putting a gangly teenager in modeling school. It won’t help your self-esteem, and it most likely will bruise your ego.
  • Don’t put yourself in that position until you truly feel ready

2.  Do I have a cohesive body of work?

  • Have you developed a consistent, recognizable style? Galleries want to make sure their artists can produce excellent art on an ongoing basis.
  • Have 6-10 examples of your work framed, ready and available for display.
  • Your paintings should be thematically related.
  • Your paintings should be consistent in execution.

3.  Is my art saleable?

  • Have you had previous success at selling your art? Arts and craft shows are a great way to determine if your art is saleable. Also displayed in restaurants, banks, farmers markets, real estate offices, online, or even your own studio are great ways to get positive and negative feedback on your art.

4. Do I have a professional marketing packet?

  • A professional marketing packet generally includes a professional portfolio with at least 10 examples of your best work.
  • Your packet might include printed materials, a DVD of your art depending upon the gallery guidelines.
  • Always include a business card with your contact information.
  • Nowadays, any aspiring artist with professional aspirations should have a website or blog included in their marketing packet.
  • A professionally printed brochure is another great way to quickly grab the attention of a prospective gallery. Make sure to include links to your blog, or website, social media accounts, and your name, email, and phone number.

5.  Can I keep up with supply/demand?

  • A professional artist needs to be able to keep up with supply and demand. This, of course, is a high-class problem to have!
  • But, do you have time to create great art? Galleries prefer artists who are prolific, those who are able and willing to produce a body of work.

6.  Am I ready to sell myself to a gallery?

  • If you have answered ‘yes’ to all the above questions, the next step is to be prepared to sell yourself!
  • The Cardinal rule in all sales is to be able to sell yourself!
  • A professional art gallery with a good reputation gets inundated with dozens of submissions from hopeful artists each week. Therefore, you must do your best to stand out from the crowd.
  • Whether we like it or not, being an artist is a bit like being in the entertainment industry. We are an extension of our art, our product.
  • Professional artists know how to promote, communicate and sell themselves.

7.  Have I found the right target-gallery?

  • A target-gallery is one that you have determined to be a good fit for your art.
  • Do your homework and do some gallery shopping!
  • Think about where your artwork belongs in the art market. This is easy to do and you can start at home.
  • Flip through art magazines and look at gallery ads and the artists they represent.
  • Check out gallery websites and see if your work would be a good fit for them.
  • Talk to fellow artists and have them suggest galleries to you.
  • Make sure they pay their artists in a timely fashion!
  • Make sure your art is a good fit! For example: if you paint wildlife paintings, don’t approach a gallery that specializes in abstract art!

8.  Do I know my target-gallery’s artist submission policy?

  • Many galleries, especially within the high-end fine art market, have specific submission requirements and policies. This means artists must submit work for review.
  • Check your ‘target gallery’(this is the gallery you think is your best match) website and see if it has a specific protocol for artists’ submissions. Follow their guidelines.
  • If all else fails, and you are feeling bold, walk in the front door and introduce yourself with some examples of your art in hand!

If you have answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, you might be ready for gallery representation. If the answer is ‘no – don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position until you know you are ready.

Keep in mind, no matter how full the gallery stable might be, they are always on the lookout for new, and exceptional talent.  But no matter what, make sure the gallery loves your art. If not, move on! Good luck!

Lori McNee is a professional artist, social media influencer and the owner of where she blogs about fine art tips, marketing and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist.  Check out her new North Light Book, “Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee: Painting Techniques and Professional Advice.”


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