Ever wonder how sales consultants sell art at predatory commercial art galleries? What you are about to read…
However you find potential exhibition or representation opportunities, focus specifically on those galleries or dealers who show your kind of art and really get to know them before presenting not only your art, but also your resume and sales history so they can get some sense of how things might go if they decide to work with you. The closer you can come to providing them with complete information as well as suggestions for organized shows of your work, the greater your chances of success. Know going in that in the end, only a small fraction of galleries will be right for you, but no matter how many may turn you down, never ever give up. Rest assured that sooner or later youll be hearing the almighty Yes.
Your best bet is to forget about email or mailing lists altogether and combine whatever online presence you already have with a more handson approach. To begin with, start close to home and get free lists of all art dealers and venues in your area either online from arts and entertainment sections of area calendar or event websites, from local arts associations or organizations, or from hardcopy art publications that cover art in your area. If youre interested in showing your art in nearby cities or regions, do the same for those areas as well. The less wellknown you are, though, the more you should focus on working your immediate area, and do your broader networking online rather than gallery by gallery.
If the place where you live has little or no art scene and youre determined to be an artist, show wherever you can galleries as well as alternative venues and supplement that with social networking activities. The mere ct that you regularly post updates and regularly show your work at physical locations as well as online demonstrates your commitment and dedication to being an artist. If you take your social networking and exhibition opportunities seriously, you increase the chances of getting positive responses to your work hopefully including invitations to show, and even sales. Do a good job of getting the word out and people will begin to notice… and follow your progress. If good things start happening and you begin to feel more confident about your potential for success, you might consider moving somewhere with a more substantial arts community at some point. But dont be hasty; make sure your career is off and running first.
No matter what kind of art you make, only a small fraction of the galleries on any list will likely sell it because email and mailing lists tend to be general, not specific, and tend to include all kinds of galleries selling all kinds of art. Only a fraction of that fraction will be looking for new artists to show. And only a fraction of that fraction of that fraction will accept unsolicited submissions from artists who theyve never heard of or who havent been personally referred by people who the gallery owners already know and trust. So out of that list of maybe hundreds of galleries, no more than a handful will even bother to look at anything you send them. Thats often your bestcase scenario.
Buying and working off of highly targeted email or mailing lists might make a little more sense if youre already an eslished artist, but only if youre experienced at researching and identifying new opportunities, approaching the people in charge, and effectively presenting your art. Then again, if youre at that level already, you likely dont need lists and can find out who the main players are without too much difficulty from people you already know. Plus you can get names from social networking contacts, online art blogs, calendar sites, publications and magazines, fellow artists, art organizations, dealers you already know, and other art community resources.
Generating income from art in the form of either cash or cash equivalents is always challenging…
At the same time, begin to immerse yourself in your local art community. The best way by r to get your name and your art out there is to regularly attend art openings, lectures and events, and to get involved with local arts organizations, museum groups and nonprofits. Eventually people will get to know you and youll start hearing about opportunities to show your art, but again, take things slow and get to know people gradually first. All this may sound a little on the laborintensive side and it is but its what you have to do in order to get noticed and eslish yourself as a working and exhibiting artist. Theres no quickfix in the art world, just good oldshioned hard work.
Speaking of spam, mass emailings dont re much better. Galleries can almost always tell the difference between mass emailings and serious artist inquiries, and its even easier for them to press the delete button than it is to physically toss something into a wastebasket. And these days, spam filters have gotten so good that many unsolicited mass emails are automatically sent to spam or junk folders. Galleries never even see them unless they check their spam, and most dont.
And think about the money youll spend after you buy the list especially if you decide to mail materials rather than make contact by email. The list itself might be relatively inexpensive, but designing and printing up hundreds of brochures or other promotional materials, putting them together, addressing the packets, and mailing them out can easily cost several thousand dollars if you want to do it right, not to mention the many hours of time youll spend. The bad news is that no matter how much time and money you put in, most of your materials go straight from the mailbox to the circular file without ever getting looked at. Why? Because many of the galleries youll be sending to to know the difference between serious solicitations and spam… which is basically what your mailer will be.
But wait; it gets worse. Some of these lists can be terribly outdated. I once asked for a list of local gallery names from a website that claimed to get the word out about your art to thousands of galleries, museums and arts organizations across the country. What did that list include? Dead people, galleries that were no longer in business, galleries that were still in business but no longer at the listed addresses some addresses were ten years or more out of date!, and other completely useless contact information. Some lists are relatively updated, but keep in mind that iniduals and businesses change their addresses all the time and keeping everything up to date can be challenging to say the least. And now for the odds of an email or mailing list paying off big for you…
About the last thing galleries are interested in is artists who send mass mailings or emailings. Galleries like to feel the artists who contact them are being relatively discreet, exclusive and limited in who theyre contacting. They prefer artists who appear to care about them, understand their histories, know the s of art they sell and the s of artists they show, not artists who look like theyre sending the same exact information to every other gallery in town.
In the meantime, take your local art dealer list, visit each gallery website, learn about what s of art and artists they sell or represent and see how closely they match with your art. Personally visit those venues that seem appropriate for your work, get a better feel for what theyre like and if they seem right for you, get on their email lists and start attending their openings and events. You dont have to introduce yourself or start talking about your art the first time you see them; consider initial visits more as informationgathering and getting miliar with the territory than anything else.
If you like where you live in spite of a limited local arts scene, focus your engergies online and experiment with ways to publicize your art such as actively participating in groups or websites focused on your of art. Put your art up for sale on your own website, at art or artist sites that show similar work, and perhaps at online auctions as well. Dont get too heavyhanded or engage in hard sells, but rather use social networking to drive traffic to your website or online store, and occasionally make mention of available art. In short, try everything. Sooner or later youll figure out what works best. Sure, this all takes time, effort, experimentation and dedication practically as much time as networking in person, especially if youre just starting out but if you hang in there and do it right, youll make headway over time. Sooner or later people will begin to recognize who you are. And if theres any way you can combine your online activities with local or regional shows at physical locations gallery or otherwise do it.
Any art gallery owner will tell you that large numbers of artists continually approach them looking for representation or wanting shows, and that many of those artists have no idea whether their art even remotely matches what the gallery sells. Theyll also tell you that exhibiting the work of artists who walk in off the street is highly unlikely, and that exhibiting the work of artists who send information in the mail, coldcall them by phone, or email them out of the clear blue is equally unlikely. And geographically speaking, unless youre already wellknown or eslished in the region where you live, the rther away a gallery is mileagewise from your home base, the less likely they are to have any interest in your art no matter how you contact them.
Lets say for example you live in Texas and buy a list of art galleries in Texas. That list will include all kinds of galleries that sell all kinds of art much of that art bearing absolutely no relation or resemblance to yours art by living artists, art by deceased artists, abstract art, representational art, European art, Latin American art, Asian art, limited edition prints by mous artists, paintings, sculptures, photographs, experimental art, glass and ceramic art, art by Houston artists, art by Dallas artists, art with Cowboy and Western subject matters, art with Texas subject matters, and so on.