For the past 12 years we’ve received many an email, phone call and “walk-ins” from artists seeking representation. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to just put yourself and your work out there knowing that you may well get a no thank you response.
So although there are many articles out there about approaching a gallery these are our Top 10 Tips for getting your work into our gallery and onto our walls……
1. Do Your Homework If you’re able to visit the gallery then we’d really encourage you to do so. Have a wander around, look at what we sell, who we represent, our pricing, how we interact with customers and ask yourself is this somewhere you’d like to see your work and does your work “fit” in? If you can’t get to us in person then check out our online presence whether that be our website, Facebook page, Instagram feed, or blog posts – all of these will give you a feel for the type of gallery that we are.
2. How To Submit Your Work Nothing is more irritating that an artist just showing up without an appointment and assuming we will have time to look at their work. We only have one person on the gallery floor so simply cannot stop what we are doing to look at your work.
What we prefer is if you sent us an initial brief email (not a generic one that you’ve sent to 100s of other galleries) which clearly shows that you’ve researched the gallery, include a small bio of yourself, says why you think your work would go well in our gallery space, how you heard about us and some images of your work. In regards to images – don’t send huge files as they might not get through our email server – just create a simple PDF (which can be opened on any computer) that has a selection of your most recent work and includes sizes, medium and retail price.
3. Be Professional Whether it sits comfortably with you or not, you are running a business so make sure you’ve got your paperwork in order, know your prices, are clear about your expectations, any conversations had on the phone, try to follow them up with an email summarising the conversation so each party is clear about what’s what. The gallery/artist relationship takes time to build, we need you as much as you need us and it needs to be based on openness, honesty and professionalism.
4. Pricing We have a very simple policy at the gallery – all your work needs to be sold at the same price wherever you sell it and this includes online, art fairs, studio sales and other galleries. Therefore you need to be happy with the commission the gallery is taking and this can range from between 30 – 50%. As a gallery that is VAT registered we calculate our commission rates on the net price so you’ll need to bear this in mind as well.
If we are going to buy your work upfront then your wholesale price needs to be in line with current practice. So for our type of business a factor of either x3 or x2.4 is used across the board. So if you’re wall price is £150 then your wholesale price should be between £50 and £62.50.
5. Framing We are really fussy about the quality of framing on artwork and have our own framing workshop. We do appreciate that framing your work professionally can be an expensive upfront cost but your wall price should reflect the cost you’ve incurred for framing – IKEA and The Range frames simply won’t cut it. All original artwork that is framed should be done to conservation standards which means that your artwork is correctly preserved and all methods used are fully reversible. If you’re just starting out then you can buy readymade frames from online framing companies but even these might need some attention to spruce them up.
6. Ask Us Questions We’re happy to answer whatever questions you have along the way as it’s important that we establish an open and honest relationship from the start. We have a comprehensive consignment document that we use which pretty much covers everything about the relationship between the gallery and the artist – including who meets the cost of delivery and pick up, insurance, when you will be paid, how long the artwork will be at the gallery, what promotions we will do on your behalf, what we need from you and a whole host of other things. We’re happy to send this out to anyone if they’d like a look.
7. Ask Other Artists If you know any of the other artists represented at the gallery then contact them to ask how things work or ask the gallery to put you in touch with other artists so you can get an “insiders” take on working with the gallery. The gallery/artist relationship is a precious one and we are always learning how to improve things and never ever mind an artist asking another what it’s like to work with us. We know we’re not perfect and can always improve but I like to think we’re a friendly bunch who want to support you in being as successful as we possibly can.
8. Exclusivity We’re pretty specific about this one as we pride ourselves on stocking unique work. So on the whole we don’t accept work from artists that are also selling in other shops and galleries within a 15 mile radius. It’s a fine balance for both the artist and the gallery – we want to have the exclusivity but also want to ensure that we give you all the available possibilities for selling your work and getting you out there!
9. Selecting The Right Artwork It’s really important to us that when a customer walks into the gallery there is a sense that everything works well together, that the gallery looks inviting and that even though we represent a diverse number of artists and makers that there is an underlying cohesiveness. So the work that you select for the gallery should also have a coherency about it – don’t just put together a random selection of your work, try to choose work that not only goes well in the gallery but will also look good together on the wall or in displays – I’d even go so far as to say make sure that the artwork you select is all framed in the same moulding…..
10.Just Do It! So now you know some of the things we and other galleries look for, we’d want to encourage you to be brave and get yourself out there – nothing ventured, nothing gained as my gran used to say!