Thanks to everyone who joined in our podcast yesterday – great discussion and great questions. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the broadcast live, the recording is available on YouTube. As usual, we ran out of time before we ran out of conversation or questions, so I thought I would take a stab at answering some of the questions that were submitted but unanswered during the broadcast.
The first comes from Justin S.
I am looking to submit to mid to high end galleries but want to make sure I do it in a correct way. I have a new art technique that I am using that has been a massive hit at all my shows. I have been submitting to several galleries but just cannot get them to respond. How can I catch their attention, and is it over the top to send them a small painting so they can really see the painting in person instead of from photos. As an artist I am surprised that they don’t respond as you would think they would love for an artist with great sales to come to them! Thank you!!
Great question Justin, and I totally understand your frustration. It would, at the very least, be nice to hear one way or the other; there’s nothing worse that not knowing.
Let me deal with several components of your question. First, there could be several reasons you’re not hearing back from the galleries you submit to. Some galleries are simply too busy to respond to every inquiry they receive from artists. At Xanadu, we try and give a response and feedback to every submission, but we receive dozens every week. Our number one priority is following up with our buyers to close sales, and this sometimes means that responding to all of the artist submissions we receive can get backlogged. I suspect that some galleries in the same scenario simply don’t respond to the emails at all.
You are right that galleries are constantly looking for the next artist that is going to sell well, so with these two factors in mind, what can you do to increase your odds of success? I would suggest three things:
- When possible, submit your work to the gallery in person. If there are galleries in your local area, a personal visit to the gallery to present your portfolio is going to be far more effective than an email. It may not be possible to visit out-of-town galleries in person, but take advantage of any opportunities you have to present your work in person. If you have several pieces along with you (in the car, for example) you may get the opportunity to show the work to the gallery owner, allowing him/her to see what is unique about your work.
- Increase the number of submissions you are making. Getting gallery representation is a numbers game – in order to reach the galleries that are interested and that are going to have time to look at your submission, you’ve got to approach a lot of galleries. You mentioned that you have submitted to several galleries, and this is simply not going to be sufficient. I would recommend submitting your work to 20-40 galleries if you are approaching them in person, and 60-100 galleries by email to get a good start. This is going to take some time and effort on your part, but by the simple law of averages, your chances of generating interest in your work increase by increasing the exposure you are giving your portfolio.
- Follow-up. As I mentioned above, many galleries don’t have time to respond to every submission, but if you are a little bit persistent and follow up, you increase your odds of getting a response, either positive or negative. It’s a careful balancing act to not appear pushy – you wouldn’t want to send an email every day – but it would be appropriate to send a follow up email after 10 days, and another 10 days later if you still haven’t received a response.
With these numbers and follow up suggestions, it’s not going to be practical for you to send out paintings to all of the galleries you are going to submit to by email. You should also keep in mind that by shipping a painting to a gallery, you are asking them to do extra work to return the painting if they are not interested, and some galleries aren’t going to take kindly to that.
There are obviously many other considerations in submitting your work to a gallery for representation – portfolio format, consistency and quality of work, presentation, and pricing, to name just a few, but I’ve covered these topics in other posts and in my book. Know though, that it is the artists who are persistent and prepared that ultimately are able to break through the noise and build relationships with galleries.
What Have you Done to Get Attention from Galleries?
Have you had success getting your work noticed by galleries? What did you do that proved effective? What hasn’t worked? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments below.