This is a guest post from Grace Carter.
Making art is hard enough without trying to bridge the gap between your studio and the gallery wall.
How do you approach curators? What does an email need? Can you increase your chances of success?
I have your answers. You may not get into every gallery you approach, but with the right tools, it’s only a matter of time before you find your match.
MAKE NETWORKING AN ART
We all have some very romantic ideas about art, but you can’t just wait in your studio, laboring over your next masterpiece, if you ever want to get your pieces in a gallery. There is another art you need to learn – and that is networking.
Make connections throughout the industry. How many other artists do you know? Are any of them local? How well do you keep in touch? Maybe you already know a gallery owner or two.
Even if you don’t know any gallery owners personally, your fellow artists might. Networking provides vital introduction opportunities. Your connections can also prepare you to approach specific galleries at the right time with the right materials.
CULTIVATE YOUR OWN FOLLOWING
Galleries choose to work with artists because it will make the gallery a profit. The gallery is a business. Just like you are hoping for art sales through this gallery, the gallery is hoping for art sales through you. And you both are looking to expand your audience through each other as well.
Approaching a gallery as a completely unknown artist lowers your chances of success. [Note From Laura: Only a little! If a gallery thinks your art will sell to their clients, they’ll take you on. But try to grow your own following for a better chance of looking like your art will sell to their clients.] It’s still possible for a fresh artist with very few followers to work with a gallery, but it’s less common.
If you want to increase your chances, then you need to build your reputation and following on your own.
Make sure you have social media profiles dedicated to your art. Create a website too. And use those tools to network online. The more followers you have, the more appealing you become.
FIND THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY
Everyone has bad days. Choose the right time to contact a gallery so you don’t make your introduction during one of those times.
Avoid sending emails or introducing yourself in person if you see a gallery representative working a booth at an art fair. Don’t add to the stress of openings, galas, or other major gallery events either.
Instead, use your connections to see when the gallery is accepting submissions or actively looking for new talent. [Note From Laura: Or just email them when you know they’re not opening a new exhibition so they can look over your request when it suits them.]
WHAT YOUR EMAIL NEEDS
A good initial approach email only needs a few sentences. Introduce yourself as an artist. Don’t go into detail.
Mention where you’re based and what you plan to achieve. For example, if you want to show at a local gallery, introduce yourself as an artist from your region looking for local representation.
Then lead straight into a clear request.
Explain the purpose of your email and ask if they are accepting submissions. Remember to inquire about their preferred submission formats. And always check the website first. Asking for information the gallery has already provided online will not win you any favors.
Treat this email like a piece of your art.
Give it extra care and attention. Remember, the email will give the gallery their first impression of your professionalism and skill as an artist. Here are some tools to help ensure that first impression is a good one.
- State of Writing & Grammarix – Nothing sabotages a great email like bad grammar. These websites help you find the right words and the right phrasing to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
- Academized & BoomEssays – These websites pair you with skilled editors. They turn a good email into a great introduction.
- ViaWriting & MyWritingWay – Need ideas and insights? These websites help improve your writing through things like online education and handy grammar cheat sheets.
- EliteAssignmentHelp & UKWritings – These websites give you peace of mind with top-of-the-line proofreaders. It’s that extra set of eyes to make sure you didn’t make a simple mistake.
- Word Counter – Need to trim down your email or artist statement? This free site helps you stick to the max word count for any submission guidelines.
WHAT YOUR EMAIL DOESN’T NEED
Your email does not need is your life story.
Your introduction should provide the basics in a clear, professional manner, but no more than that. Curators are busy so they are less likely to read your email if it looks long. And since they haven’t met you yet, they’re not that interested in you.
Focus on what you can do for them. How will your art help them?
Galleries appreciate good artists with professional skills. Don’t let your eagerness or your ego get in the way of an effective email.