How to Approach a Gallery IN PERSON & Get The Best Outcome..

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.

Approaching A Gallery IN PERSON To Sell Your Works...  

(Email Approaches will be covered in another blog post v soon0

"Hi, I'm an artist"   Aaarrghhh, don't do it, please please don't do it.  Read on dear hearts...

Over the past 20 years, I've worn both hats.  I've been (& still am ) an artist, approaching galleries and suitable businesses to represent me and sell my works in their establishments, and I've also sat over on the other side of the desk, as the gallery owner.   I had my own shop called 'The Pond' in Clapham Common in the early naughties - bonza it was too.

So, Gallery owner first:

I'm at my desk with loads to do, artists coming into deliver new works (love that) and others coming to collect (not so lovely).  I've got some calls to make, there are a couple of people in the shop looking at works on the walls and in the browsers...good, this is good.

I'm about to jump online or get on with my schedule for the day, coffee at the ready, I'm in the zone and.... 'Hi, I'm an artist.."  my heart sinks as I want to give them the time , perhaps even look at his/her work right there and then, but I know that the truth is that I can't  - and explaining this is going to be tricky, verging on rude.

So whats the best case scenario here?

Well, the ideal scenario for the gallery person goes something like this:

'Hi, I'm an artist and I know you are super busy, so I just want to know the best way to make an artist's submission to this gallery?"  (nice).  Queue nice smile, the handing over of a business card either way and swift exit, nice exchange completed.  

This conversation can be in person - as long as you are quick, polite and looking smart'ish, (this isn't quite so important as us artist's are artists...but very definatly not smelly) or, just as sucessfully, even more so in fact, by telephone.

I think it's really important that you have done a couple of things in preparation for your call or your visit...

a:  you have actually gone into the gallery and seen that the works they sell and the artist's they currently have on their books are relevant to you and your works.

b:  you have at least supersleuthed online and in detail.  A really good way to do this is by researching your rival artists - ok, rivals might be a bit strong but look at other artist's who are at a stage that you would like to be at.  Take a look at their online presence - how do they present themselves?  where do they exhibit?  Most artists' websites have a galleries page or exhibitions sections, have a good look on there and note down some & RESEARCH THEM!!    Please don't call a gallery cold, please.

Artist Viewpoint:

Oh look, I'm next to that gallery that I think my work would sell really well in.  I know, I've got 15 mins before the bus/collecting Granny, next appointment, I'll pop in  (eeek, don't do it unless you are prepared)

I bet they'd love to see my work (they would but in the right manner and setting) I'll go in.  "Hi, I'm an artist..."  

Fellow artist, I'm truly sorry if this seems patronising - I honestly don't mean it to be.  From the probably near to at least 1 or 200 galleries I have approached over the past 24 years, these are the fruits of my hard earned lessons..

To recap:

1.    Be polite

2.   A business card wouldn't be amiss.

3.   Be prepared to hoppit at a moments notice

4.   DON'T TAKE IN ANY ARTWORK on your first visit (unless it's been requested of course)

5.   A quick telephone call doesn't hurt as a first intro.

6.   Email Applications can be very successful, I'll cover this approach in another post coming soon.

I hope this helps dear reader.  If you have any questions, just jot them down here and I'll do my best to answer them asap.

Finally, 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.

Best, Samantha