The following blog post is by Scott Jones, manager of Legacy Gallery, one of the top fine art galleries in the country with locations in Scottsdale and Jackson WY.
I am on a flight back from our Holiday Small Works Show in Scottsdale. Laptop open and thinking to myself, “Why write an article for FineArtViews?” Not sure I have a good answer. I will admit that I do read every article, and I have learned a thing or two or three along the way about the art market and the artists who drive it.
Maybe writing this boils down to wanting to express some admiration and appreciation for artists, who despite all odds, continue to pursue their artistic passions and talents. I am an art addict. I admit it. I have been since I bought my first painting at the age of 16. I was pretty talented in High School and College – won some good awards and even had one of my paintings used as the logo for the ABC television affiliate’s evening news for a year. But I never considered a career as an artist. Not once.
I always thought I had a much better chance of success and a more secure future in the business world. Art did continue as my only real passion outside of my work. Not much time to create art – but I have always found the time to study artists’ work and the market, attend gallery shows and museum exhibitions, and occasionally add to my own collection. I told my four daughters when they were very young that they would know I was retired when I was in Jackson Hole selling art. Fortunately for me that opportunity came much sooner than I had anticipated, and my favorite gallery became my employer. How great is that!?
I get the privilege of watching “normal” people daily respond to the type of artwork that we represent. They don’t need to be told that it is art – that is readily apparent to all who see it. We don’t sell art – the art sells itself. Our role is a supportive role and can be defined by how effective we are in these three areas:
Proper presentation -- beautiful galleries with proper lighting and viewing space located in top art markets. Maybe I should also say appropriate art markets for the art we carry.
Effective advertising and promotion targeted at a great client list and to finding new collectors -- magazine ads and features, catalogs, websites, emails and other electronic media.
Building value – yes, I believe the gallery’s endorsement and our experienced sales staff’s efforts adds confidence in the artist’s potential, which in turn, can generate sales momentum and drive prices upwards. Collectors want to see values increase over time. Our artists also benefit by being associated with the other highly recognized artists we represent.
Let me weigh in on a couple of topics that I have seen discussed on FineArtViews. I will first mention that I found a lot to agree with in two articles by Lori Woodward regarding Galleries. See her posts “The Benefits of Gallery Representation” and “Why Galleries Rock”.
How to approach a gallery? I do prefer the first contact to be by email (through our website) with a couple of images and a link to the artist’s website. Let me put some perspective on what you are up against as far as other artists’ submissions. Since creating our new website over a year ago, we have been fortunate to average over 100 artist submissions a month. Most of these submissions come through the website. Others come directly through email. Still others are by mailed portfolio. I do look at them all. A couple of tips:
Don’t contact the gallery the week of a show. I am always surprised how many submissions I get on the day before or the day of a major show. Get on the gallery website and look at the show schedule. Time your inquiries appropriately and your submission will get more attention. Avoid peak-selling periods as well. If you contact me during the Fall Arts Festival in Jackson, it will likely be several weeks before I will have the opportunity to take a look.
Please take the initiative to critique your own artwork and how it compares to the artistic styles and themes we represent. Legacy is primarily a traditional representational western gallery. It continues to surprise me the number of artists who contact us with artwork and portfolios that have nothing to do with these representational themes. Tropical fish and abstracts are not going to find a place at Legacy (yesterday’s last two submissions).
Don’t tell me that your work is better than the artists we currently represent. I am shocked by the number of artists who make that claim – even to the point of specifically calling out particular artists in the gallery who they “just know” they are better than. If an artist’s work is in our gallery, you can be confident that we like the artwork and have had some success with it. Don’t put me on the defensive -- much better to approach me with the honor that it would be to hang with our other talented artists.
Don’t drop into the gallery with artwork under your arms, and expect an audience. While I usually try to drop what I am doing and take a look, I don’t believe this sets a good first impression. Rather it sets up some reluctance on my part that your artwork is going to have to overcome. If you call and ask for an appointment, I am going to want to see some examples of your artwork before I commit to a time.
Have a website and keep it updated. I am surprised how out of date the majority of websites are. I don’t wait for artists to come to us. I spend a lot of time looking at artists. Looking back at the past year, we have brought on artists that I have found through the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition, Ducks Unlimited Sponsored Artists (thanks Google), and other competitions like the Raymar Art Fine Art Competition and the FineArtViews Painting Competition. I found two artists on links from other artists’ websites and blogs. I have a list of over 60 artists I watch and the list is growing. I routinely visit their websites and blogs. I am surprised how infrequently some of these artists update their new work. These are all artists whom I feel have potential so I watch for new works and continued progression and consistency. It is frustrating to me to see a website or blog that goes weeks and weeks or months or more with no updates. Your collectors will feel the same way – I always did. Timing is everything. I may not have an opportunity today – but that door may open for a variety of reasons in the future.
Thanks again and I wish you all the best with your art.