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Loose and Local: Using Unconventional Venues to Showcase Your Art

Guest writer Edward Stuart discusses some great and original new ideas for places to showcase your art in your local community.

As artists, we sometimes unintentionally lock ourselves in tidy little boxes. We wait for gallery opportunities or we set up at local coffee shops, and we leave other options out of the picture. We look to our websites and social media outlets. Once or twice a year we set up at local art fairs. Though these tried and true methods might get some results, there’s an entire world of venues that remain largely unexplored. Your community is full of people that love art, love working with artists and would delight in helping you showcase your work—which means that the big obstacle is actually finding one of these venues. The good news is that all it takes is some creative thinking, some networking skills and some good old fashioned detective work.

New Beginnings

The first useful clue you’ll find while cracking this particular case is this—start with the new guys. People who are just starting their business are likely still very open to new ideas. They actually might be in need of wall decoration in the first place, which is a need that you can easily fill for them. Bringing your art to a new business’ doorstep makes them immediately feel more involved in the community and lets them know that someone is paying attention to them. Even better, the owner of a new business will often have creative ideas about how to make your art work in a perfect symbiotic relationship with their establishment, which can go beyond “hang it up with a price tag and leave.” There’s a lot of room for creativity and collaboration when you approach a business that’s just starting out—there’s more space to experiment and change things around, which is extremely beneficial from a marketing standpoint.

Follow the Trail

Okay, we need to get more specific than “start with new businesses,” because there are only so many of those. Every city is different, so your avenues of opportunity are different than mine. These are just a few suggestions about where you might look—even if they don’t specifically apply to you, they might give you some ideas.

  • Local music venues (beyond coffee shops) are great. Bars that host live music are often extremely likely to showcase your artwork. All ages venues are great, too.
  • Hair salons are a great place to showcase your artwork, especially since many of them are owned and staffed by artistic, creative people.
  • Comic book stores are often more than happy to showcase your artwork, especially if what you do leans toward any type of quirky or pop art.
  • Skate shops and bike shops are also great for quirky or dark artwork, and their owners are extremely prone to being artistic types as well.
  • Restaurants are great, but food trucks work out pretty well sometimes, too. The logistics can be a bit tricky, but food trucks are generally owned by independent-minded, creative types that are very receptive to hosting your artwork.
  • Local music zines, fanzines and other local publications are always looking for great content. Sure, you can’t hang a painting up in a photocopied zine, but you can find some beneficial relationship there.
  • House parties can be a great place to showcase your work—as long as they don’t get too rowdy.
  • Tattoo parlors and screen printing shops sometimes have the wall space for artists they appreciate as well.

Another great rule to follow is that basically anywhere creative people tend to gather is a good venue for your art. Above everything else, just think “where do I like to go? Where do my friends go?” and follow the trail from there.

Turn on the Light

Many of the businesses listed above might not showcase any local art, but that’s because many of them have just never been approached about it. They simply don’t feature anyone’s artwork because no one has ever brought it to their attention. Any place owned or staffed by artistic types is bound to at least listen to your proposal, even if they’re already an established business. Taking a little risk and making a pitch to a currently art-free venue might result in a long-lasting relationship and open the door for other artists. You never know until you try.

Good Relationship

It’s important to build good relationships with the people that own these unconventional venues, so that they continue to contribute to the local art community. Ideally, your art should both look great on their walls and help to get some people in the door to look at whatever they’re selling. Use your already-bountiful self-marketing and promotion skills to bring some new faces in the door. Show them that you’re committed to the relationship and they’ll give just as much. If you’re blazing new trails and setting up new art venues where there once were none, your fellow artists are going to appreciate it as well. The simple acts of holding up your end of the bargain and giving back to the business owner will open up new doors for you and your peers.

 

Finding an unconventional venue for your art might involve some exploring, handshaking and risk-taking, but it means not having to wait for a street fair or a spot at a local gallery. Your community is full of people who love and appreciate art—the only real struggle is finding them in the first place.

 

Edward Stuart is an artist, writer, blogger, and interior design enthusiast. He writes for the canvas art supplier CanvasGalleryArt.com. Edward enjoys blogging about art, art history, design and home decor.

 

 

Image courtesy of tackorama.net

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We Need Your Opinion – Enterprising Artist’s Survey

Opportunities for artists have changed radically over the last 10 years or so.

Widespread use of the internet has begun a process of democratisation of the artworld as never before. New opportunities have been tempered by new challenges. It is a huge sea-change which has altered the art landscape forever. More and more artists are finding that it IS possible to make a living from their creativity. You no LONGER have to starve for your art…

What is less clear is that how do we fit into this new landscape as artists?

HOW are people doing? WHAT are they doing? WHERE are they going? Just HOW is it all panning out for YOU?

Introducing The Enterprising Artists Survey.

To get a little more of an idea, Artonomy has partnered with www.rightbrainrockstar.com to create The Enterprising Artists Survey.

Your opinion and experience counts…

We need YOUR EXPERIENCE to understand what is going on.

In return for 10 minutes of your time filling out the survey, you will be emailed the summarized results and get a more detailed picture of today’s entrepreneurial art landscape.

So please help us  by completing the survey here

Thank You

Artonomy & Right Brain Rockstar

 

 

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Where To Find The Best Arts News & Information

There are many ways to engage in the arts; through gallery visits, buying art, attending openings and receptions or becoming a museum member. But with the information overload it may be challenging to filter out the excess and drill down to what you want to know.

By employing art media into your life you can keep up with the art news and choose what to see and when. Listed below are some of the avenues we can all take through our various media outlets to follow art news, art happenings and the cultural world we live in.

  • From the UK and the Guardian we have Art Weekly with news on the latest gallery shows in the London area.
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  • Contemporary Art Daily gives us a daily journal of international exhibitions.
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  • Art Business News is just as it sounds. All about the business of art. This includes trade show calendars, gallery and artist profiles and tips on how to increase your sales in the galleries. Its mission is described as “reporting the latest industry news and emerging trends driving the fine-art market.”
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  • Founded in 1996, Art World News focuses on art publishing, custom framing, gallery news and the business of the individual artist. This trade magazine is print only; from the web site go to Subscribe to receive free issues of the magazine.
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  • Décor Magazine was first published in 1880 and is the premier go-to magazine for those who work in custom framing, interior design, publishing, home furnishings and décor manufacturing. Decor is published monthly. I enjoy it for its color trend articles which are always spot-on and a must have for artists and publishers.
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  • Artnet explodes with information and not just in English. This energetic online forum boasts sites in Germany and France as well. Artnet is essential for those who follow art auctions, art openings, the latest and hottest artists out there and significant art events throughout the world.
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  • For the independently minded with a hint of underground, read Juxtapoz Magazine. This online news source and print media offers categories in street art, tattoo, erotic and illustration. Additionally look for event calendars, artist profiles, videos, community information, gallery guides and photography. If this doesn’t make you rush into your studio and make stuff then I don’t know what will.
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  • Art in America may sound like it spotlights only one country but in reality they push the borders with news on international exhibitions, international artists and news opinion from the world over. The strengths of this publication are heavily inclined to contemporary art in major urban hubs such as Los Angeles, New York City, Italy and Britain.
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I suggest starting locally and move out from there. Push your artistic envelope and be open to what’s going on in artistic centers such as New York, Milan, London and Los Angeles.

The art world is alive and kicking and as bold and inventive as ever.

© 2011 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at
www.theartplanet.com
www.etsy.co


Post image by Nick Sherman under Creative Commons

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Best of the web | July 2011 | Don’t miss these

How Bob Ross sees Social Media

A beautiful infographic from flowtown.com in which the godlike Bob Ross explains the world of social media. Happy Little Blue Birds…

Pay My Rent ~ Buy a Painting

Evangeline Cachinero has quit her job as an advertising art director. Can she survive on her art for one year? A genius way to sell her art.

Artists Who Sell: How to Write a Killer Sales Page {and why}

A genius post from Steff Metal on the lovely Abundant Artist website.

“If you want to make an honest go of being a full-time artist, at some point you’re going to have to ask people for money. That’s quite a scary contemplating. Many of us have got it in our heads that money in the art world is kind of crass – especially when we’re first setting up our websites.

We don’t ask for sales, and so we don’t get them. Our readers buy from another artist instead, or spend their money on Cockney language kits or Justin Bieber CDs.

That’s right – Justin Bieber gets your money.”

Shes right you know…

Art & Illusion – The Magic of Pricing…

Jack White with an interesting perspective on art pricing.

“Not a month goes by that I don’t receive a gaggle of emails asking about art pricing. My standard answer is, “Art is worth what folks will pay.” That’s the brutal truth. The exception is if you can create the illusion that your art has more merit.”

Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

A close look at Twitter facts and figures in another fabulous and funky infographic.

 

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Lessons in selling art from my weird obsession with camper vans.

I think I’m having a midlife crisis! Over the past few weeks I have developed an unhealthy and possibly slightly weird obsession with getting a camper van.

It all started with a retro turquoise VW camper which one of my favourite galleries uses to advertise their business. It is parked outside with the gallery name on and gives out a jaunty air of summer happiness.

Since seeing this vintage Volkswagen beauty, my campervan obsession spread like wildfire through 70’s Scooby Doo style Toyota Hiace motorhomes, VW T25’s and the “clearly named by a lunatic” Mazda Bongo. I can be found on the Internet at 4am comparing mileage or in the corner of a carpark pawing at camper bodywork and interrogating the owners on miles per gallon economy.

To be honest it’s all got a bit sad…

 

Mr Artonomy has taken on a resigned look and has taken to disowning me when I dash off to look at my latest find. He has more sense than to get in the way of one of my obsessions.

But where he sees a rusty money pit and possible dangerous descent into being a middle aged couple with a flask of tea, I see a life of wild adventure on the open road. I see Friday night spontaneous escape. Sleep under the stars cushioned from the elements by German efficiency. I see waking up on a beach to the roar of the ocean and running joyfully across the sand with my tousel haired children for an early morning dip. I see festivals and sun. I see magical childhood memories being made and I WANT A CAMPERVAN.

So “what on earth has this got to do with selling my art you sad middle aged woman” I hear you cry.

 

Well it’s all to do with “features” versus “benefits” which is an important marketing concept to get your head around and one which very much applies when you are selling your art in a gallery or online.

What I would ACTUALLY physically be buying (features) would be a rusty old van which drinks petrol like a fish, has a weird tent instead of a roof, contains more Formica than is natural and probably has an onboard potty.

However, what I am REALLY BUYING IN MY HEAD (benefits) is a romantic notion of freedom, escape and being at one with nature.

Painting the picture in your collectors head.

 

If a camper van sales man comes up to me at this point and starts telling me about engine size I won’t be too interested in an immediate sale, but if he paints a picture to me of the free and magical campervan lifestyle in my head and how his vehicle will help me achieve it I will be handing over my hard earned cash to him quicker than you can say “split screen VW”

And that, my friends, is the secret of selling anything, be it sprockets, cars, t shirts, jewellery or paintings. You have to discover the deep personal magical inner desires of the buyer and show how your painting can meet that desire.

Collectors  buying an escape.

 

A great example of this is the gallery I talked about who own the gorgeous blue campervan that started this whole blooming thing off. They are located in a beautiful Welsh seaside town and sell a lovely selection of work, a lot of which is based around the sea or countryside. Their customers aren’t just buying a painting. They are buying a memory of being relaxed on holiday, of picnics on the beach, pub lunches, an escape from work and getting on better with their husband. The bottom line is they buy the painting to capture this feeling and FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES. They are buying an escape.

So when you are considering where or how to sell your paintings, remember the magical dialogue that will go on in your buyers heads. Try to imagine what it will be and promote your work accordingly.

Me? I’m off to check AutoTrader for a pre-loved VW.

Let me know what you think in the comments…

Image by Barkaw under Creative Commons licence

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Video | How to Approach an Art Gallery for Representation | Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee shares some extremely good sense tips for approaching galleries that will help give you the best possible chance for representation.

Cedar Lee is an artist from Baltimore. You can find out more about Cedar and her paintings here.
http://www.artbycedar.com

 

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Kissing Lots of Frogs | Coping With & Reducing Knockbacks From Art Venues

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”

This is one of my favourite sayings. It’s one I got from my Mum who would console me with it whenever I had my heart broken by some pasty faced spotty no-hoper boy as a teenager. It always makes me smile…

I love the sentiment behind the saying… Basically, don’t expect to score the bullseye with your first shot. Be prepared for the knock backs that come as a part of life and just keep going… You will find the right person/thing/place in the end…

This is extremely relevant to your life as an artist. You have to consistently keep putting your work out there in different venues so that people can get to see how fab it is. This means that as an artist you need to keep approaching others with a view to getting them to show your work, whether it be a gallery, a cafe where your work would look good, a shop, an exhibition curator or an art fair manager.

The likelyhood is that many of the approaches you make to galleries, sales outlets or agents will result in rejection.

This can be really hard to cope with mentally. It’s really important that you don’t let this knock your confidence in your work or drag you down, preventing you trying again in the future.

How can you deal mentally with these knockbacks and also improve your strike rate so they happen less frequently?

Remember, you need to kiss a lot of frogs!

 

You have to keep in mind that this is just the way stuff is.

Rejection by an art venue is not necessarily a personal indictment of your work.

  • Your work may not be the right kind of work for the venue .
  • They may not be taking any new artists on at the moment.
  • They may be oversubscribed.
  • They may be overwhelmed.
  • They may have finished exhibiting art for the season.
  • They may just be too busy to take a look…

It can even be something totally random that you have no control over.

  • They may be hacked off with artists because their wife ran off with one.
  • They may have a personal and irrational hatred of the medium which you work in.
  • They may be in financial trouble and unable to take on anything.

All these problems/reasons/issues are theirs, not yours.

Finding representation and venues takes time and patience and probably a lot of false starts.

You may need to kiss 50 frogs to find 1 prince

 

So it’s really vitally important that you don’t take the knockbacks to heart. Realise that there can be a million reasons that someone doesn’t get back to you or says no. 99% of those reasons will have nothing to do with the quality of your work.

You just need to shrug it off, be proud that you tried and move on to the next opportunity.

You need to kiss the RIGHT frogs!

 

There are however, some simple things to help you in your quest to find the prince and they are as follows.

The number one thing that you can do to help yourself is KISS THE RIGHT FROGS!

It’s no good going around kissing common or garden frogs. You need to kiss the ones that have a CHANCE of turning into a prince…

When looking for a gallery or venue for your work, the crucial thing is to do your research and find the ones who are a good fit for your work. There is no point in trying to get a gallery that specialises in modern urban abstract art to look at your work if you produce delicate landscape watercolours. That is a waste of everyones time and will result in a confidence sapping knockback. Instead, focus on the galleries and venues that are right for your work.

How to FIND the right frogs.

 

Visit as many galleries or art venues where you would like to see your work as possible.

  • Get yourself on their mailing list and visit the exhibitions they put on.
  • Familiarise yourself with the kind of artists and genres they exhibit or work with.
  • Chat to the owners {without trying to sell anything or mentioning your work} and get a feel for the ideals of the venue.
  • Do you get on with the owner/manager/curator too? This is really important if you are going to have a commercial relationship with them.

Once you have got a feel for a group of galleries you will begin to understand the kind of artists each one works with.

You will then be able to narrow down your focus to a few venues that are a good fit for your work. There is no point wasting your time {or the venue owners} if your work isn’t a good fit. You want to find places that you can have a good relationship with.

Get to KNOW the frogs better before you kiss ’em…

 

Once you have a possible shortlist of a few “good fit” venues, it is time to approach the owners.
Rather than going in “all-guns-blazing” trying to sell your stuff to them, you really need to concentrate on building a relationship first.

This strategy takes time but will result in good relationships which can help you move your art career forward {and you will probably get to meet some nice people too – bonus}.

You can do this by visiting exhibitions they are currently showing, chatting to the owners and generally getting involved without being pushy.
Only when you have established a relationship is it a good time to broach the subject of your work and that you would like to show it with them.

…And pucker up

 

At this point a good professional approach can work wonders.

  • Choose a good time to approach the owner/curator {not when they are busy/hassled/hungover etc}and suggest that your work may be a good match for them and you would like to show with them.
  • Choose your time wisely or you may undo all the goodwill you have built up so far.
  • Send a polite follow up email chatting about your previous conversations or their exhibitions you have enjoyed to remind them that you are interested in what they do and not just being pushy. Attach a couple of images of your work and a link to your website.

Unfortunately there is no shortcut to the basic fact that you need to build up a good relationship with the venue first. Cold calling with all your artwork in tow seldom works.


But if you follow this approach, the chances of hurtful knockbacks are diminished.

5 quick tips on approaching art venues

 

  • Make sure you always know the name of the person you need to speak to. No sending things to “whom it may concern” You should have already built up a relationship with them.
  • Make sure that your approach is professional. If sending items through the post ensure everything is nicely packaged and presented in a crisp manner.
  • The same applies if sending emails, make sure you address it to the right person. Send from a professional email address {no flowerfairies@hotmail.com – this matters more than you think}. Attach only 2 or 3 jpeg images and make sure they aren’t too large that they will clog up someone’s email.
  • Make sure your website is finished {I get sent so many links to “Under Construction” websites} and professional looking.
  • Make sure you actually LIKE the person you are approaching. Remember you are looking to work commercially with them. If you don’t fit personally this is never a good idea.

So keep your faith and confidence when approaching art venues. With a little prior research and work, much of the uncertainty and damaging rejection can be reduced.

Just make sure you choose your frogs carefully… that way you will find the perfect frog for you and your art. A fabulous frog with POTENTIAL…

Let me know how you get on in the comments…

Image courtesy of Jacki-Dee under Creative Commons Licence

 

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Show It, Don’t Blow It: 7 Tips to Keep the Art Exhibition Blues at Bay

As artists, showing our work can often be a trigger for creative block. In this guest post, artist and blogger at DialogVisual, Cherry Jeffs, offers 7 tips for ensuring that your next exhibition doesn’t cause a dry spell in your art-making!

A few years ago I began showing my art after a long hiatus. Exhibiting my work previously had resulted in long bouts of creative block and I was determined not to let this happen again!

Since lack of self-confidence is frequently at the root of artist’s block, here I share some straightforward strategies I used to boost my morale and make the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable.

If you are new to showing or returning to it after a long break, these 7 tips are a great way to ease yourself painlessly onto the gallery circuit.

1. Control the Show

In his book, Fearless Creating (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995) creativity guru, Eric Maisel warns against ‘impulsive showing’ whereby the artist shows,
‘…without preparing the work or preparing herself, without considering who the right audience might be or what she wants from the experience of showing…’
Maisel advises consciously planning for showing: Deciding to whom we want to show our work, why we want to show it and whether there is anything else the work needs before we do so.
To ease yourself (back) into showing, choose a situation that allows you to determine what work to show, and when and how you you show it. Organising your own show means you can carefully control the whole process.

Pick the most sympathetic environment possible – i.e. somewhere where you feel comfortable and that’s easily accessible so your pals can come and support you!

2. Like a Scout – Be Prepared!

Preparing for your show well in advance, reduces last minute panics! Complete your work well before the start of the exhibition so you have plenty of time to plan how you are going to hang it. Spend some time in the gallery beforehand picturing how to place the work.

Arrive early on the day of the hanging to make the most of the time available.

Hanging the exhibition

3. Spread The Word

If the venue doesn’t provide invitations, get your own printed and distribute them as many widely as possible. This will help make sure you get a great turn out – another morale booster!

Send out some press releases to local media as well. There’s nothing like a live interview to make you feel important 😉

Local Press

4. Feel Good!

Opening night is your night so do everything possible to optimize your morale so that you will shine.

Have your hair cut/styled the day before the exhibition if it helps you feel more confident and wear the kind of clothes that you can forget about as soon as you put them on!

I don’t suggest you wear your track suit with egg stains on but jettison that trendy-but-uncomfortable outfit in favour of something you’ve worn before and you know makes you feel good.

5. Stay Straight

Don’t drink anything alcoholic on the night! It’s tempting to get stuck into the free drinks at the private view but I’ve seen even very experienced artists getting more than a little tipsy with pre-exhibition nerves and its not a pretty sight!

Keeping a clear head whilst all around you lose theirs will give you an advantage when it comes to haggling over the price of your work (yes, it happens) and keep you sweet-talking those prospective buyers all the way to the bank to withdraw some cash 😉

The Private View

6. Separate the Work from the Show

This is the most important tip of all to avoid creative block after a show: You have to mentally separate the making of the work from the exhibiting and selling of it.

Think of it as creating two boxes. In one, put your experience of the process of creating the work; Then mentally seal that box.

Leave the second box ‘empty’ to be filled by the exhibition experience. Whatever this box ends up being filled with, don’t allow its contents to spill over into the first box!

Making the work is making the work, exhibiting it is something else. You’ve enjoyed the experience of making the work so don’t let anything or anyone detract from that.

7. Keep Your Creative Juices Cooking

Spending time in the studio on new work while the exhibition is running keeps you grounded and in the flow; it stops the feeling that your whole artistic life hangs by the one thread that is The Show.

Also consider booking yourself onto an artist’s retreat to reward and replenish yourself after the exhibition comes down.

You could even organise another show shortly after the first one! This provides a second opportunity for selling anything that remains unsold and a chance to correct any glitches that occurred the first time round 🙂

Following these strategies helps to give you a feel-good experience about showing your work and stave off a confidence crisis that can lead to Artist’s Block.

Do leave a comment if you’ve got any tips of your own that you’d like to share.

If it’s too late and the Blight of Block has already Bitten you, you might want to sign up for my Blast Your Blocks e-course starting 16th June!

 

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Best of the web | February 2011 | Don’t miss these

Be Happy – The meaning of life

This little video is just gorgeous – Nothing more to say!

Have you ever wondered about Art Licensing?

Artist Tara Reed has a great blog where she has a LOT of information about the ins and outs of art Licensing. This post What’s Your Art Licensing Story? where artists share their own stories about how and why they started in the art licensing world is particularly useful.

Facebook Promotions: What You Need to Know

If you admin a Facebook page about your art it used to be extremely easy to fall foul of Facebook’s promotion rules. They have relaxed a lot in the last few months but its a good idea to know exactly what you can do rather than run the risk of getting your page banned. This page by Facebook queen Mari Smith explains the ins and outs of Facebook promotion

What does the near future of the gallery system look like?

Brian Sherwin {who knows a lot about galleries} talks about what the future holds and why the news is good for self representing artists.

You Can’t Do That: Galleries, Agencies, and Online Art Sales

“If you really want to be in control of your art sales, if you really want to control your life and your career and your time – you need to take the time to make your online presence as good as possible”.

A great post about taking control by The Abundant Artist

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Don’t run aground on the rocky shore of fate: {or how to build your own lifeboat and survive the art world}

I’m a great believer that you can shape your own destiny to a large extent. Often it’s the energy you put out into the world that carves the trajectory of your path into the future.

Think about the people you know. There are always some “lucky” buggers that seem to be in the right place at the right time, land the lucky break and deal with things successfully whereas others always seem to miss the opportunity and generally flounder around, getting nowhere.

Is it that the fates look more favourably on the “lucky” person and send a never ending torrent of bad luck on the other? No. Generally and with the exception of uncontrollable circumstances such as illness, bereavement and accident etc, much of our good luck is created by ourselves, by being in the right place at the right time and making the most of the hand that we are dealt.

As in life it is the same in the world of art. You can create your own destiny.

One common and dangerous idea that persists in the art world is that somehow a gallery will discover your art, create your reputation and do all your marketing for you. You don’t have to do anything other than concentrate on making great art.

This myth tells you that you don’t have to bother with all the timesucking marketing business and promotions stuff because one day a gallery will wade in and sort it all out for you. As long as you make great art you don’t need to bother with anything else.

The {fairly annoying} truth

The sad truth is that it’s not all about the art. There are some wonderful painters and artists who never get any kind of recognition and some terrible ones who rise to the upper eshahlons of the art stratosphere. {We can probably all personally think of at least one hugely famous artists who we think “hmmm” when we see their work, right?} So you can spend all your time creating amazing art but it doesn’t guarantee that a gallery will want to represent you or you will achieve the success you want.

A gallery is looking for an artist who already has paid their dues and built their reputation and who they can work with to take on to greater things. They don’t want to have to start from scratch and they will not save you if are floundering in the water.

A gallery will not build your reputation for you. They will only enhance it

Being tossed around on the sea of fate waiting for someone to come to your rescue at some unspecified time in the future is not a great survival plan. However, it is a popular plan that many artists believe is the one which will deliver them safely to the shore of artistic success. This is just TOO IMPORTANT to leave to chance…

Galleries will not throw you a life ring. In other words you have to build your own lifeboat

Isn’t it a much better idea to start building your own lifeboat now, by working to establish your own artistic reputation? That way you are much better equipped to get gallery representation in the future if you want it and to control your own art if you don’t.

So what steps do you need to build on to start your reputation building survival strategy?

Start building

Present yourself and your work professionally.
Invest time {and probably money} in ensuring that yourself and your work are presented in the best way possible. Ensure that photographs of your work are high quality and show it off to its best advantage. It’s no use thinking “people will like the work even if the photos are rubbish”. They won’t be able to see beyond the poor photography.

Make sure your website looks professional. This is many peoples first point of contact with you and your work. They may see your work or hear your name at an event and want to find out more. If they find an unprofessional website {or can’t find your website at all} then that’s it, opportunity missed.

Make sure all your materials {emails, website, business cards etc} present a consistent message. Keep the colours and typefaces the same across everything and establish your brand.

Extend this to yourself. When you attend an art event, make sure you “dress the part”. It may sound silly but choose clothes that convey success rather than “struggling artist”

Network and build connections.
Go to every art event you can find in your local community. Get to know the “faces” that crop up all the time and become involved in the “goings on”. This way you will find out about opportunities for shows and ways to get involved in art projects. This will all help your CV and reputation to grow.

Behave in a professional and businesslike way.
Always remember that a gallery is a business. They aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts to create somewhere nice for people to visit on a Sunday afternoon and drink some wine and look at some nice stuff. Like you they need to make money to survive so they want to deal with artists that they can trust to come up with the goods. They won’t want to have to deal with an artistic temperament or inconsistent reliability. Always deal with galleries in a organised business like manner and convey to them that you take the business of art seriously. This will enhance your reputation as a serious artist.

Build your cv.
Show your work as much as possible to as many people as possible. Both online and offline. Don’t be shy and hide your light under a bushel. Get it out there and see what opportunities arise. This way you are building your CV, line by line, until you have an impressive track record which conveys consistency to a gallery.

Launch your lifeboat

So start building your OWN Reputation now. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Then you will be in a strong position to work with any gallery in the future on an equal footing in a mutually fulfilling manner. You will also be much better positioned to approach galleries for representation and will have the connections to help you do it.

And what if no gallery shows up? It doesn’t matter. You are fully in control of your own lifeboat and confidently steering your own artistic destiny.

Do you believe in taking control yourself or think a gallery should deal with everthing? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Image courtesy of Freddy The Boy under Creative Commons Licence

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