You may have read Part 1 of my top tips for approaching galleries. If not check back to read about it here. Welcome to Part 2 - full of juicy info for all artists, designers and makers who want to work with more galleries
DON'T COLD CALL
All of the Gallery Owners I spoke to have said this is a huge turn off for them. Contact them beforehand. Find out the name of the proprietor, maybe even ring them to ask for a point of contact. Drop them an email, ask them if they are looking for new makers/work to stock. Tell them a bit about you and your work, include some high quality images with dimensions and prices and make sure your prices are clear (trade/RRP/SOR). Don’t forget to mention your Unique Selling Point, what makes your work so special. You could also include a brief bio and CV as well as links to your online presence. If you don't want to email them you could always send something about yourself through the post. I have some lovely little folders which I pop price lists, product info, business card and maybe even a sample of my work. In the age of digital communication, you never know, this could really stand out. It's always nice to get real mail.
Don't be disheartened if you don't hear anything back immediately.
Some galleries have certain times throughout the year when they go through applications. Others may just be busy. Some may not like your work, don't take this personally, just move onto the next one. If you don't hear from someone within a few months it could always be a good idea to follow up. Drop them another line perhaps or give them a call.
Meeting the Gallery
If the gallery does contact you expressing an interest in your work, this is only half of the journey! You now need to go and meet them. Be prepared, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you don't arrive flustered. Ask them beforehand whether they are interested in a particular line/range so you know what to take with you. Take along your price list as well so you have all prices on hand. I always take a notebook with me so I can take a few notes and also if they take any work I can record what I have left with them. Make sure you come across professionally, show that you are prepared and make sure you ask questions too. Do you know what their rate of commission is? How long would they like to keep your work? Take a copy of your Sale or Return agreement to leave with the gallery. You may be aware of their terms and conditions but are they aware of yours?
Nurture your relationship
Once you have made contact with a gallery and embarked on a professional working relationship with them, nurture it, keep in contact with them, enquire as to what is selling and what isn't. Show you are willing to let them know when you have new work available. Pop them onto a Stockists newsletter so they can keep up with what you are up to. Send them invitations to your trade fairs and let them know where to find you. All in all, treat them well. These collaborations can lead to many new opportunities and are mutually beneficial to both parties. It's always great to make new contacts within the creative business.
I'd 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 have worked for me in the past, there may be lots of other things I haven't mentioned so feel free to add your top tips in the comments.