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Into the Art Gallery Owner's Mind

by Clint Watson on 6/5/2007 9:44:19 AM

Last week I wrote some criticisms of the marketing ideas of some gallery owners I heard during a panel discussion.  This week I focus on some of the other things these gallery owners said.  This article will take the format of simply presenting the notes I jotted down while listening.  I am not attributing the following quotes to any particular person, but they were all made by real art gallery owners:

When just starting a gallery:
"I was advised to find artists I could grow with."
(Hint - if your just starting out, look for newer galleries)

"An artist I respected gave me a list of 100 artists he recommended - I called every single one of them"
(Hint - referrals from other artists the gallery owner knows mean a lot)

When asked, "What do you look for in an artist?"

"Do they know themselves?"

"Are they consistent?"

"Consistency is key"

"Does the work STOP people?"

"Is the artist consistent?"

"Is the artist getting consistently better?"

"We look for artists who won't compete with artists we already have."
(Ed note: I've expressed my disagreement with this position in other articles)

"Showing us sold paintings is OK - we want to get an idea of your work."
(Hint - show them your BEST work, even if it's sold)

When asked, "What's the best way to approach a gallery?"

"Email us images - don't just walk in without an appointment."

"Send a portfolio - include a SASE if you want it back."

"Don't forget to include article reprints and a list of awards."

"Be persistent - I once said no to an artist every year for three years, but she kept coming back and getting better - she's in my gallery now."
(Hint - be persistent)

How many paintings do you like to have on hand?

"6 or 7"

How do you feel about an artist having their own web site?

"Worried about links to other galleries."
(Ed Note - this seems a bit paranoid)

"We like it, we can see all of an artist's work and where it is"

"Be sure to archive your work by years - so we can see growth in the work."

"We will not represent an artist if they sell off their web site."
(Hint - talk with your galleries up front about how you will handle purchase requests that come from your web site.  If you really want to be in art galleries - it's probably best to simply pass those requests to the gallery.)

What other advice do you have for artists?

"Framing is important."

"Use good frames."

"Paint in standard sizes so that it will fit in frames we have in the gallery.  And so if it doesn't sell, we can reuse any frame we purchased for the piece."


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Topics: Art Business | Gallery/Artist Relationship 

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