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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Outside the Frame

Wednesday’s airing of Outside the Frame was jam-packed with information, advice and tips on how to approach brick-and-mortar galleries for exhibitions and/or representation.

Here’s a recap of the show:
Are you ready for a gallery? You should have a body of consistent works all of equal quality. Your works should be cohesive and in the appropriate style for the gallery. You should have had at least three displays in alternative exhibition spaces such as libraries, restaurant, cafes, senior centers, etc. Also, you should have your presentation and marketing materials that includes a portfolio, tearsheets, display records, sales records, etc. ready to send.

We then went on to discuss the different kinds of galleries and how the type relates to the way they derive their income. Commercial/Consignment Galleries survive by selling artwork on a consignment basis taking a percentage (typically 40 – 50% but can be as high as 70% in NYC and L.A.) from the retail price in order to pay their bills, expenses and staff salaries. Member/Cooperative Galleries survive by utilizing member dues and commissions (typically 40%) from works sold. University, Community, and Non-Profit Galleries typically sales are not transacted through these venues but when they are they are often on a commissioned basis. Vanity Galleries derive their income from artists’ in the form of exhibit space rentals and other artist fees rather than through the sale of art. Vanity Galleries generally should be avoided.

Some galleries impose geographic restrictions in regards to the artists they represent or in regards to the shows they curate. Local-open only to those who reside in the specified town or city. Regional-open only to those who reside in the specified region such as a county, state or group of states. National-open to those who reside in that nation such as the United States. International-open to those who reside in that nation as well as to those who reside elsewhere.

Exhibitions also fall into different categories. Juried-where all work exhibited is selected by a juror or jury. By Invitation-where all artists exhibiting have been pre-selected and invited to participate. Member-where all works exhibited are works by dues-paying members in good standing. Shows are distinguished further according to the number of artists participating. Group-shows that include the works of four or more artists in the same show and are usually thematic in nature. Trio-show featuring the works of three artists. Duet-show featuring the works of two artists and Solo-show featuring the works of one artist.

There are two types of submissions, solicited (meaning material was requested) and unsolicited (meaning material was sent even though it was not requested). Sending in solicited materials always increases your chances for a favorable response. You get galleries to request your materials either by querying them or via calls for artists.

The three steps in getting into a gallery are as follows: Step 1-Visit the Gallery (in person if local or regional via website if national or international). Should visit at least twice –once on a regular business day, in casual attire and once during an opening reception.

Tip of the day: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! The better you know the gallery, its artists, and its staff; the better you are able to evaluate whether or not they are a good fit for you. Step 2- Contact the Gallery (via phone if local or regional, via email if national or international) to ask about their portfolio review policy and to request a portfolio review/interview. Step 3- The Portfolio Review/Interview. The portfolio usually contains 10 to 12 images of your best works (do not send originals) can be hard copy or digital. Also needed are biography and/or resume (or CV) and artist’s statement, and any tearsheets, show cards, etc. Calls to artists, the prospectus and exhibition proposals were discussed as well as the important clauses within an Artist-Gallery Agreement.

Links to sources for calls are:
Art Deadlines List
Art Calendar
Art Shows
National Assembly of States Arts Councils

The following worksheets & samples mentioned in the program can be downloaded as .pdf documents here

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding Outside the Frame; please direct them to me via email at or you can catch me on Plurk,Twitter or via my Paint and Pen Blog. Also, check my blog before next week’s show to find out how you can be eligible to win a DeDe Sorensen print. Finally, Be sure to tune in next Wednesday at 1PM for Outside the Frame where we will discuss the steps involved in securing and getting paid for commissioned projects.


pigatopia said...

How awesome I love the recap on this. Jammed packed with helpful info for any artist


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Pigatopia
:) DeDe