words Al Woods
The bohemian lifestyle of an artist is a romantic’s dream. Images come to mind of the artist covered in paint, working from a dishevelled studio and creating their opus.
But the reality of a young contemporary artist can be something quite different. Whether you’ve just graduated from art school or have been trying to get your work seen for some time, the task of getting your art in a gallery can be daunting.
Do your research
Not every artist is the right fit for every gallery. A gallery represents a particular creative vision and may have specific aesthetics or interests, so it’s important to have perspective. Never show up unannounced at a gallery with a portfolio of your work. Just showing up because you think your work is good enough may come off as rude or even egotistical. If there is a gallery where you think you’d be a good fit, learn more about them. Go to their shows and try to find a quiet time when they won’t be overwhelmed with clients. Become a presence and build a relationship with the gallerist.
Another way to boost your presence is by entering your work into competitions. Winning competitions can put your work in front of industry professionals, and even finalist and runners-up get exposure in the right networks. Many competitions have requirements or briefs so make sure you check before you enter.
Effective communication is crucial to the success of any relationship, including your relationship with gallerists. Gallerists want to learn more about you and your unique perspective; what makes you tick. That doesn’t mean that you should delve into an hour-long lecture about each piece. Be comfortable, coherent and ready for a conversation.
Public speaking isn’t everyone’s fortė but can be overcome with practice. Try writing down your thoughts in a journal, talking through your inspirations with a close friend or even practising in the mirror.
Connections are key
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. Networking is one of the best tools at your disposal. Whether it’s getting touch with your favourite artist, reaching out to other artist friends, making online connections, or even getting a job adjacent to the art industry. Put yourself out there and cast a wide net.
Promote yourself (the right way)
The internet has made art more accessible than ever, so it should come as no surprise that it’s a wellspring for gallerists looking for new emerging artists. Web presence is extremely important in getting noticed, so make such your website is up to scratch.
If you don’t have a website social media can act as a digital archive of your work and is a great way to reach out to your community. Regularly post and engage with your audience, just make sure to showcase your work and not just selfies!
Online art galleries such as those provided by Gallery Shtorm have become popular in the last year due to COVID, with many people stuck inside galleries around the world have gone online.