"How to Get Into A Gallery Without Any Connections Whatsoever!"
I have this feeling that many artists are out there waiting to be discovered. Like Marilyn Monroe sipping a coke in a drugstore, they are waiting for someone to swoop in and give them the artist's life that they have always dreamed of. Galleries and the people connected with them seem out of reach. Everything they read about the do's and don'ts of getting a gallery make it seem impossible without having some kind of inside track. Well I'm hear to tell you, brother's and sister's, it just ain't so. Sure having someone to recommend you would be nice, but what do you do if you're making great work out somewhere in the hinterlands where nobody knows the difference between you and a cold sweat?
I currently have work for sale in four galleries. Some of them I have a consignment deal with, and some of them have added me to their roster. In terms of sales one way doesn't necessarily work better than the other. The bottom line is you want your stuff to sell before your painting in a tiny little corner of your studio with all of your paintings lumbering over you like the ghost of Christmas past. So how did I get these galleries to show my work, without anyone, and I mean no one, not even a sixth degree of Kevin Bacon recommending me? I use the skeet shooting method. Sure it looks real impressive when you see these guys aiming for these clay pigeons and hitting them mid air, until you realize that they are shooting buckshot (scattered pellets) and not hitting them with a single shot. All of the books that I've read say you should choose just a couple of galleries that your interested in and find out everything that you can about them. Go to the gallery, talk with the owners, go to openings, throw dinner parties etc; PLEASE, is that the way AMAZON works? Not according to the barrage of emails I get every day.
I got into my first real gallery about ten years ago. My approach was so low-tech that it amazes me to think about it, even still. At this time artists were still using slides (remember that unholy nightmare), and I found this place that was reasonably priced for getting your work photographed, and the slides were good quality. I then had the slides printed as 5 by 7's and scanned them into my computer. I used the Windows photo printing program, no Photoshop for this buckaroo, and printed a sheet with six of my paintings equally spaced. This is all true I swear! I next printed out labels and a heading for the sheet of paintings and re-scanned the image. I took it to Kinkos (now FedEx) and had a hundred copies made on glossy card stock. I then went through every art magazine I could find (most of them piled up in the bathroom for fine reading) and put together a list of a hundred galleries that I thought I might have the slimmest possible chance of connecting with. I mailed out a packet with my homemade giant postcard, printed resume, and cover letter. I sent them out hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Like that old commercial used to say "Set it and forget it!". I didn't do any of the things that the "art advisors" recommend. I didn't wait a week and place a follow up call, I didn't email that the packet was sent. I really didn't do anything but wait. Eventually I started to get responses. I heard from six galleries that were somewhat interested. That may not sound like a lot, but remember I was only really looking for one. What happened next? Be sure to learn more in How To Get A Gallery, Part Two. If you like this blog, please follow me and share with your friends. Thanks for reading!