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.”


BODY OF WORK - PART IIPreviously, in Part Iwe wrote about having a body of work to show art galleries, art reps, art collectors and to any other interested parties of your art. In that article, we also discussed the overall importance of having a body of work and how to develop a body of work.

We asked the professional artist/blogger, Lori McNee to discuss this subject and to provide her tips on to how to develop a body of work. Below are her thoughts on how an artist should approach this very important exercise.

Tips to Developing a Body of Artwork, By Lori McNee

Any successful artist will tell you that developing a body of artwork is one of the main factors that separate the professional artist from the amateur.  Things that Successful Artists do Differently

It is important to create a cohesive, consistent body of work in order to be taken seriously by reputable art galleries, art collectors, or art representatives. These people expect to see a high level of consistent work that they can promote and support.

But, creating a body of work is mystifying to many fledgling artists. Below are a few suggestions that will help:

1. Style

The first step to developing a successful body of work is defining your artistic style. Whether you are a painter, photographer, ceramicist or sculptor, style is your own distinctive manner in which you apply the paint, color, texture, and shapes, mold the clay or manipulate the photographic image.

2. Consistency

Once you have a distinctive, recognizable ‘style’ of art it is imperative to be consistent. Do not promote or solicit your body of work until can consistently produce high-quality art. 10 Steps to Develop a Series of Exhibition Paintings

3. Theme

Now that you have you are comfortable with your consistent, recognizable ‘style’ of art, you are ready to create a theme for your body or artwork.

This might be a regional location, or a season, a color scheme, or paint quality. Try to think of Monet’s "Haystacks" painting or Picasso’s "Blue Period"

4. Format

Next, the artist must decide upon the format of the exhibition. Whether a two or three-dimensional artist, you must decide upon a pleasing arrangement of shapes and sizes. Keep in mind there is an emotional connotation attached to different formats.

Horizontal = peaceful

Vertical = majestic, active

Square = risky, contemporary

Standard = traditional

5. Message

Ask yourself: What is the message you are trying to convey to the viewer? What is your focal point?

6. Number

When I am asked to create a body of work for a gallery exhibition, I am generally expected to paint 12 -15 paintings. So, I suggest developing about a dozen beautiful, professional works of art for your body of work.

7. Presentation

Remember, the frame is a continuation of the painting or photograph and the message. Whether it is a sculpture or a painting, it is important to complement and showcase the artwork without distracting from it.

8. Evaluate

The last step to creating a successful body of artwork is to evaluate the group as a whole. Set up the art and look at it with a discerning eye. Are you happy with the group? Does one stand out, or clash with the rest? Must you delete something from the group for the betterment of the whole?

Once you have asked these tough questions and are comfortable with the grouping, congratulations! You have developed a body of work that is ready to be viewed!  Body of Work Part I Here

Lori McNee is a professional artist/blogger at who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Ambassador Artist to Royal Talens. lori@lorimcneeartist.  Her art website is


BODY OF WORKAs an artist do you have a body of work to show interested parties? What is a body of work? Why is it important to have this? How do you develop a body of work? We will explore these subjects and more a series of two articles.

To me, a body of work is a collection of an artist’s artwork which demonstrates an overall signature style. Simply put, it is artwork that is instantly recognizable to most people who appreciate art. We all know who the artist is when we see a Winslow Homer painting, an Andy Warhol print, or an Ansel Adams photograph. You recognize their art instantly as they created a body of work which they developed and perfected over a period of many years.

If you were asked by a gallery owner, art collector or by an art rep to see your artworks, could you show them a selection of 15 to 35 pieces of your art in a style, medium and subject matter that was consistent and memorable to that person? In other words, does your art distinguish you from all of the other artists that these people have seen?

What you are doing by having a body of work is demonstrating a mastery and expertise in that personal style, subject matter or media to a viewer of your artworks. By having a consistent body of work, you are drawing attention to your art in this manner rather than by showing your versatility in many styles of art. Gallery owners and art collectors want to see the mastery rather than versatility.

Every month we receive entries from artists who send us (within a group or entries) different media and different styles which show us that artist’s versatility but in reality, most of the winning artists generally show us a consistent style of art, in the same media and an overall mastery within that genre. When we visit the artist’s website we will also discover the same style is also shown there too.

Here is a quick way which will help an artist to develop their body of artwork. What is the one thing that you love to paint? What is the subject matter that fascinates you? What media do you favor more than anything else? What style of art excites and captivates your imagination? The answers to these questions will help direct your focus for all of your future creations and thus, you will begin to develop your own personal body of work.

Your body of work could be about a certain subject (landscapes, seascapes, still life etc.), or it could be on any subject whereby you employed a certain style or a unique media as your focus. Overall, this body of work becomes a collection of your artwork and by doing this you are showing a gallery owner, art collector or art rep that you can create art that is consistent within your distinctive style.

Do you have a signature style and a growing body of work to show? If not, it is time to begin this task and in by doing so successfully, you will soon take your art to the next level.

Our next post will continue about this subject when professional artist Lori McNee gives us her ideas on how to approach, develop and present a body of work in Part II of this subject.  Body of Work Part II Here 


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