An art gallery is more than just a place where artists showcase their work. It’s also a venue for you to learn about new styles, concepts, and techniques. And it’s a great way to invest in artist materials or even merchandise.
With that being said, getting your artwork into a gallery isn’t always as easy as dropping off a piece and waiting to see what happens!
As we know, every artist is different when it comes to promoting themselves, so there are no hard and fast rules on how to get exposure. What works for one artist may not work for another, which can be tricky.
That’s why I have written this article – to help you out with all of the various ways to promote yourself as an artist.
Prepare your exhibit
After you have selected your art, it is time to prepare for exhibition!
As mentioned earlier, you will need to decide if this piece is appropriate for display at the museum as a part of an organized show or if it belongs in a gallery sale. If it is the latter, then it has to be insured and protected properly!
If you would like to organize an informal show, there are some easy ways to do that too! By spring, most museums offer educational programs free of cost. You can gain access to their materials and resources online and learn about exhibiting artwork.
Contact the gallery manager
After you determine that your artwork is appropriate for the art gallery, the next step will be to contact the gallery manager or someone close to them to see if they would like to display it!
Art galleries are designed to showcase artists’ work so there is no way of knowing whether your piece belongs there unless you send it to the curator and they decide to accept it.
The gallery director or their design team will likely look at your painting or sculpture individually before deciding to include it in the show.
They may ask about the artist, how you got into creating art, what materials you used while creating it, etc., all from yourself! This gives them more information about you as an artist which can help them determine if you fit with the organization and what styles they want to represent.
If you’re not sure where to find such a gallery, don’t worry! There are many resources available these days to connect aspiring artists with opportunities to exhibit.
Tell them you want an exhibit
Before you even approach an art gallery with a proposal, you have to make sure they’re open to it! Most galleries are never publicly announced, so make sure your plan is public before you begin asking around about what openings exist and when they happen.
If you do manage to get their attention through direct outreach, then great! But still, there’s more steps for you to take.
You will need to tell them that you want to put your ideas forward. This can be as simple as saying “I would like to propose putting my thoughts into practice” or “I wanted to let people know about this” or something similar.
Make sure you are well prepared – research the organization, find out who runs it, and learn some basics about how exhibits work.
Get permission to display your work
As with any form of art, exhibiting yours requires getting approval from someone else. An artist’s first step towards showing their work is deciding where to hang it!
Most museums will not accept works that are not approved. This is usually done through online applications or via mail. Make sure you check off all of the required boxes as well as some for yourself to ensure the process goes smoothly.
The museum may ask you about how long your piece will be there, if you plan to take it down later, and whether you will include a description or explanation of the artwork.
They might also ask you to confirm that you have the copyright or use rights to what you are presenting. If you do not, then they cannot allow it to be displayed either.
Make your exhibit
Now that you have chosen what art style you want to represent, it is time to start thinking about how to get your exhibit into an art gallery!
Most major museums will allow you to apply as an artist or arts entrepreneur to become an exhibitor at their space. This is a great way to expose your artwork and spread the word about yourself and your business without having to go through the long process of trying to find a show venue directly.
Art galleries are extremely popular these days so most offer online applications where you can describe who you are, what you do, and include links and media to prove it.
These applications typically give you quick feedback as to whether or not they’d like to meet with you and talk more about your project.
Market your exhibit
After you have finished creating your art, it is time to market it! While some people feel that marketing your work is just telling everyone about it, this isn’t quite true.
Marketing your artwork means more than simply putting up posters or posting comments on social media sites. You need to think of ways to get attention for your piece while at the same time promoting the gallery.
Some ideas include holding a launch event, writing press releases, talking to local newspapers and magazines, and contacting online galleries to see if yours can be featured there.
General business rules apply when engaging in such events. Make sure to cover all the costs involved (invitations, drinks, food, etc.) and plan ahead by having the necessary supplies ready.
Ask gallery owners to view your exhibit
A lot of artists start their art career by sharing their work with other people. It is a very important way to build your brand as an artist!
Artists will share their artwork either through social media or via sending materials directly to a gallery. By asking galleries to look at your work, you increase your chances of getting featured.
Pick a date and time
After you have determined that your special someone is under-supported, enrolled in art classes or lessons, and/or has access to an art gallery, then it’s time to pick a day and time!
Some things to consider are if there are any events going on at the venue, how popular the event is (more people may be attending than space), and what times of the year the gallery holds exhibitions.
If possible, try to do the activity during off hours so that there’s less foot traffic and attention being drawn towards the exhibition.
Once you’ve picked the day and time, book ahead and confirm the reservation! This helps eliminate potential mishaps due to unexpected cancellations or overcrowding.
Be prepared for some initial awkwardness as well – don’t expect everyone to be friendly immediately!
That said, once they realize you’re here to appreciate their artwork and contribute to the growth and exposure of the artist, most people will become close friends or even allies.