In February of 2008 McGowan Fine Art hosted a show of participants from the North Country Studio Workshops held at Bennington College. It featured over 40 artists in diverse media . It was such a successful show for us and brought publicity to the NCSW program that we decided to repeat it again in 2010.
In an effort to help this large group show go more smoothly I went over to Bennington College last night to give a presentation on how to work with galleries to the attendees of NCSW 2009. I also spoke about approaching galleries in general. Here I am talking (I hope I wasn't lecturing!) to the participants. About 40 people showed up, which was a decent amount as there were two other options for participants to choose from during the time slot. While I talked quite a bit about the Entry Form for the show to be held in 2010, most people were curious about how to approach galleries in general. Apparently it is a big mystery!
Standard protocol to approach a gallery is to first call to see if they are accepting submissions. While I will look at anything that is sent to me via the mail, there are many galleries that will not. Ask what they would like to see, but the standard package usually includes slides, retail price list, resume, statement, articles, and a SASE if you would like your materials back. Make sure that the images are of recent work and that they are available if the gallery would like to take your work on.
NEVER just send an email with attachments or directing someone to a website. Chances are that a spam filter will toss out your email and unsolicited invitations to look at websites are lacking the personal touch that it takes to get me to pay attention. I receive far too many of them from artists who are scattered all over the world. Our gallery is more regional so I try to mostly represent artists from the Northern new England area. That is another tip- target the galleries you approach to make sure that your work is a good fit with the gallery.
Always keep in mind that when a gallery does not accept your work it is a business decision and not a personal judgement. Insurance restrictions and storage space are always on a gallery director's mind. They are very familiar with what their clientele will like, or not like. Their decisions are based on what is best for their clients, the business and you. If your work is consigned to a drawer, never to be shown it doesn't do anyone any good.
And now a quick word from our sponsor- North Country Studio Workshops which has done such a great job of giving high quality educational opportunities to the artists of New England. They help to make artists and galleries more successful! NCSW brings in nationally recognized artists to lead intensive workshops in their medium. Anyone may attend, but they were developed to primarily give access to professional development for Northern New England artists. Thanks!