How to Approach a Gallery BY EMAIL & ONLINE. Getting the best outcome from that first contact....

From the series of 'Top Tips to Myself.... 20 Years Ago...'  - the Artist's handbook I wish that I'd had all that time ago when I started out.  Enjoy.

Further to my post last week all about how to approach a gallery in person I promised to write a further post about how to approach a new gallery via the net.  

I do realise that when I say 'via the net' that I sound 150 years old, but today we have so many groovy online options on which to store an online portfolio of work,  that we could easily forget the best and most straight forward way - an email.

I am assuming here dear reader that you have an online presence... or some nice digital photo's of your work?  If not, you might want to enlist some help here with familiarising yourself with this new way of working.  I don't say this lightly, as I understand how frustrated it must make you feel to know that the world has moved on and you're not quite on that bus yet, but take heart, as there are lots of options for you to learn these new skills - even my local Barclays Bank is offering free digital 1 to 1 sessions.  (Use them!)

Right, so you have some nice digital shots (or your own place online that holds your work) that's good, so how to make it work then?

Well, again just the same as in our earlier post about going in in person, the same sort of rules apply, be super-polite and use as many manners as you can muster on your first point of contact.

Let's assume that 'Katie' wants to show her work to a new gallery and she has decided to do this online. I'd suggest she do the following:

Find a Name:

Firstly, I'd encourage her to find out the name of the person that she is going to write to.   Having an actual name works wonders.  Personally I find the best way to do this is with a quick telephone call first, or if you are walking past, an UBER  quick dip into the gallery to ASK ABOUT THEIR ARTISTS' SUBMISSION PROCESS.    This sounds really long-winded but it's not I promise.  Asking them about their 'Artist's Submission Process is quite simply showing them that you are happy to fall in with them and happy to proceed in the way they like to be contacted and shown new works.  By showing gumption to ask. you're going to rack up gazillions of brownie points, I promise.  A good tip here to is make sure that you get your name into the conversation somehow such as  "thanks so much again, just for your reference, my name is Samantha Barnes" type thing.  This preps the ground for the next time you will be contacting them.

So now you have a name and the all important information on how they like to be approached.  Dear reader, play the game and play it well, overly well.  Be lovely, be polite and be nice.  If this first point of contact goes really well, the gallery will deem you to be a delight to work with and you will win even more brucie bonus points.

Email Away:

So your email is the next bit.  Simple, clear, polite and personable.   (Please see sample of my approach letter below).  

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Dear Mrs Jones.

Further to my (phone or other ) conversation earlier in the week, I am delighted to send you some samples of my work for your reference.

(A little about your work here)  I am a practising artist whose love of drawing and line is evident in my printmaking.  I currently sell in a couple of galleries and would welcome the chance to try my works in your gallery.

Please find below some jpgs of my prints  (4 - 6 images tops)  which I hope you will enjoy.

My website is www.samanthabarnes.com and I'd love you to dip in and have a look in more detail.

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best, Samantha

 

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Images:

As you can see from the letter, I suggest NO MORE THAN 6.  They need to be ok but not of amazing quality as the gallery owner will know pretty much the instant that they see them.  I'm going to make a post very soon about photography but my major hints here are to take some with the artworks in their entirerity, this means THE WHOLE THING - not just shots of the lovely bit on the left hand side.  Try to give the viewer a really good feel for the whole piece as a unit, not just as a flat painting.  

4 -6 jpgs of different works will give a really good feel for your works.

Lastly here and of course, please don't send massive massive images.  I use a website called www.picmonkey.com to resize and touch up mine.  There are others available of course but do make sure that they are good to go, before them go!

Call to Action:

Lastly in your letter, don't forget to leave them with something to do.  It could be as simple as 'I look forward to hearing from you soon' or even something a little more pushy such as an offer to bring one of your works into the gallery for them to view in the flesh - I think it's a good thing to leave them with a question or a reason to get back to you.  Don't be too meek here, you've done your bit and you expect them to play fair by doing theirs too.

Bye Bye Submission

So that's it.  That's the lot, it's gone.

But then nothing...

& more nothing...

Ho hum...

pants.

Here the old 'no news is good news'  thing comes into play.  I've had my best shows through applications that I've made years earlier.  I remember The Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park contacted me about having a solo show there some two years after I sent in my work, I didn't hear a dickie-bird and then bam, bang into a solo show which was a rip-roaring success and televised.  I'd left that channel open and they had filed me away into a cabinet somewhere to be pulled out at the right time for them.

Be polite, sow the seeds and forget about the outcome, really - do your best not to anticipate where your application will go.  Let it have time to rest with the gallery.

I will however allow you a follow-up phone call or email to your submission, just in the name of making sure they have your application.  A nice polite "Hi, I'm just making sure you got my submission?" type thing - be polite.  When they acknowledge they have, sign off with a "that's wonderful, I just wanted to check that you had, Many thanks bye".    Don't go down the route of asking whey they haven't yet contacted you - please.

So, points to recap on:

  • Be super-polite.
  • First telephone contacts are great to find out the name and email of whom to send to.
  • Use spell-checker on your letter.
  • Make sure your images aren't too big.
  • Give them a call-to-action
  • Follow up with an email or phone call a week or so later if nothing heard.
  • Sit on your hands.
  • Do it all over again with another gallery!

Any questions, just fire them off to me and I'll do my best to answer them.

I'm going to leave you with the final paragraph from my 'How to Approach A Gallery in Person' post as it's so important.

We need galleries and galleries need artists.  It's a win-win - the hard bit in getting in in the first place.  Don't be put off when the rejections come, I've had many many more than I care to remember.  The trick is to keep on applying and NOT to lose heart.

Much love, Samantha.