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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

Approaching Galleries Part 1

I have worked with many lovely galleries and outlets over the last ten years, especially when I was making my black and white illustrative work. It has been a while, but I’ve been starting to think a lot about working with galleries again, this time with my abstract landscape work. I think this has been brought on by my Open Studio event in June. The thought of being able to see people in real life and talk to them about my art reminded me how much I enjoy it and also made me think about other ways of getting my work in front of new eyes.

I interviewed a selection of gallery owners and I've compiled the following list of things you need to think about when you are approaching new galleries. It’s been great to reflect on their advice as I feel like I need to consider it as I embark on this new journey myself.

Ask yourself whether you are ready

Is your work ready? You may feel ready and confident but if you’re feeling uncertain ais there anything you could do. Consider seeking the advice of someone in the business who could give you an impartial, honest critique of your work before you start to approach stockists. If you’re uncertain whether your work cuts the mustard it's often a good idea to start to test the waters gently to begin with and get valued and impartial opinions. I did this when I first started out and I took a selection of my work along to show them. I came away with some constructive advice which I took away with me which helped me to focus on the work I needed to and as a result I gained a new stockist when the advice was put into action.

Do your homework

Research the galleries you intend to approach. Do you think your work will fit? Is the standard of work comparable? One gallery owner I spoke to said, not everyone’s work fits with what the aesthetic of the gallery. Check out the website and social media too to get a feel for the place. You can look at past exhibitions and see whether the work they exhibit speaks to yours. Follow them on social media and get a feel for what they like or even visit in person if this is practical. Some have really helpful tips online about how they prefer artist enquiries and have submission forms on their website.

Open Calls

Some galleries have an Annual Open Exhibition or may have call-outs for themed exihibtions that they invite submissions to. You could always try your luck at one of these. Make sure you’re signed up to their mailing lists, then you will find out when the closing dates are. If you’ve missed them add them to your diary for next year as a reminder. Applying to these kind of shows gives the gallery a chance to see your work on their terms. You never know it might just catch their eye and you may be accepted or even invited back to exhibit.

Want to read more?

If you have enjoyed this and are eager for more Top Tips in Part 2 of this series make sure you have signed up to my newsletter. You will be notified when the next instalment goes live. I'd also love to hear from you about how you go about approaching galleries and what works for you. Once again, everything I have mentioned here are the things that work for me, there may be lots of other things I haven't mentioned so feel free to add your knowledge and wisdom to the comments.

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