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How to Approach an Art Gallery for Representation

Keep in mind these things before you approach a gallery and you'll have an increased likelihood of earning representation.

Finding a gallery to represent your artwork can be stressful. Many people don't know where to start, so they are scared off without even trying. Keep these things in mind before you approach a gallery and you'll have an increased likelihood of earning representation:

Turn to referrals
According to Fine Art Views, if you cold call a gallery, they may not give you the time of day. Even if you have done your homework and are ready to have an intelligent conversation about exhibiting your work, gallery owners and decision-makers have a lot on their plates and may not want to take a moment to talk with a stranger. To avoid being brushed off, see if you can become friends with someone who is already represented at the gallery you have your sights on. You can do this by attending events at the gallery and networking. Hand out your art business cards to people who may have connections and do your best to form relationships with individuals who work there. They may become valuable connections. Just like mentioning someone's name at a job interview may earn you a better chance at getting hired, knowing someone at a gallery can get you an in when it comes to being represented. 

Use their frame shop
Many galleries offer frame shops where people can get their work professionally framed. If the one you would like to be represented by has a shop, consider giving them your business. They will appreciate your patronage and will see your art as they are doing the framing process. You may just get a call from someone at the gallery interested in talking with you if they notice your stuff at their shop.

Participate in a juried art show
Juried art shows are great opportunities for artists who aren't well-known to be introduced to members of the art world.

"See if the galleries you are interested in host juried art shows."

See if the galleries you are interested in host juried art shows. If so, consider entering.In the event that you are accepted, you may win representation or a period of time to show your work. This would also be a wonderful way to market yourself, as the gallery owners aren't the only people who will see your pieces. The art show host gallery often advertises the event and the finalists' work so you would gain free art marketing as well as a chance to have your pieces seen by many people.

Have a portfolio
When you approach a gallery, you must have a way to show them your work. If your portfolio consists of a few pages stapled together, you may not be at the best advantage. To prepare, be sure you have a well thought-out portfolio that showcases your best and latest works. You may choose to use a website or have a tangible version. Some people prefer both. You can always ask someone who has graphic design experience to assist you in putting together a website or book so it looks professional and is well-done. Be sure your art portfolio includes information on how to contact you so those perusing it can easily give you a call with potential sales or opportunities. 

Without talking with you, gallery owners won't fully understand you and your work. You must pitch yourself to them in order to make them want to represent you.

Pitch yourself
While the quality of your work is incredibly important, so are your people skills. A gallery may be impressed by your choice of materials or color, but decide not to represent you if you don't contact them via telephone or in person as well as sending in examples of your work. Practice pitching your artwork before you call the gallery. If you have friends who are already represented, ask them to interview you as if they were the decision-makers. This will calm your nerves and make you seem more professional once the call or interview actually happens.