How to Approach an Art Gallery

So you have an artist’s statement and some samples of your artwork. Now you need to find a place to show your artwork. It can be scary showing your work to galleries for the first time because you’re asking for criticism from a complete stranger. The experience will go much more smoothly if you know how galleries think and how to approach them. The advice below comes from other blogs (linked at the bottom) and from John Reyes at the Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.

1. Recommendations: the best way by far, to approach a gallery is to have a friend do it for you. Of course that friend should be another artist or someone else who already has a relationship with the gallery. Gallery people are much more likely to take you seriously if you come recommended by someone they already know and trust so one good recommendation can unlock multiple doors. But what if you don’t know many other artists yet?

2. Networking: You can meet other artists, art dealers, and curators by going to art events. Go to exhibit openings, festivals, and anywhere else that art people hang out. Most of these events are open to the public so don’t feel shy about showing up to as many as you can. Remember you have something in common with everyone there: you all love art. The important thing about these events is that you are there to meet people NOT to advertise your art. It’s nothing but rude to push your artwork on people at an event that’s honoring another artist. Plus gallery staff are very busy during events and will resent it if you monopolize their time.

3. Approach the right galleries: Do your research and know which galleries you want to target. If you’re an abstract artist, a gallery that specializes in landscapes is not a good fit no matter how many recommendations you have.

4. Be respectful: Remember that gallery staff are busy professionals who (mostly) genuinely love art, but don’t always have time to meet with new artists. If they ask you to make an appointment, or come back later do that. Also, try to avoid approaching galleries when they are getting ready for an exhibition or event, because they won’t be able to give you their full attention.

More ideas on approaching galleries can be found on Joanne Mattera’s blog and on this excellent podcast with Ed Winkleman.

I added a Part II to this post to include all the great comments I got.