Overcoming the Fear of Approaching Galleries in Person: A Guide for Artists


The journey of an artist often involves not only creating art but also finding the right space to showcase it. For many, the very idea of approaching galleries in person invokes a blend of fear and uncertainty. Yet, as the owner of Xanadu Gallery, I have witnessed firsthand the remarkable success artists can achieve by taking this courageous step. Many of the artists currently exhibiting in Xanadu Gallery initiated their relationship with us through in-person interactions. Furthermore, having interacted with hundreds of artists who have read my book or attended my workshops, I’ve heard countless success stories about artists securing gallery representation by personally approaching galleries. This article aims to demystify the process, drawing from these rich experiences and providing practical advice for artists ready to face their fears and confidently step into the world of gallery representation.

Understanding the Importance of Preparation

In preparation for approaching galleries, artists must understand that it’s about much more than just having a portfolio of their latest works. It involves a deep, strategic preparation that encompasses creating a cohesive and consistent body of work. This is not a task to be rushed; it requires time, reflection, and an honest assessment of your art.

Your portfolio should be a well-curated collection that not only displays your technical skills and artistic style but also tells a story about who you are as an artist. It’s important to ensure that each piece aligns with your artistic vision and represents your best work. A scattered or inconsistent portfolio might confuse gallery owners about your identity as an artist. (See my tutorial on creating a digital portfolio here)

Another important strategy is to build an extensive list of potential venues. This approach is grounded in the philosophy that the more galleries you reach out to, the higher your chances of finding one that resonates with your work and is in a position to take you on. This requires broad research to identify a wide range of galleries, each with their unique style and preferences. While it’s important to find galleries that align with your artistic vision to some degree, the focus here is on quantity and diversity, expanding your reach and increasing the likelihood of successful representation. In an upcoming post, I will share more about how to effectively build this extensive gallery list, including tips on organizing your research and strategies for making impactful connections. This method is not about limiting yourself to a perfect match but about opening as many doors as possible in your journey towards gallery representation.

Preparation also involves understanding the business side of art. Be ready to discuss your career goals, artistic process, and aspirations. Being well-versed in art terminology and current trends within the art world can also be beneficial.

The Power of Personal Connection

In the digital age, where emails and online portfolios are the norms, the personal touch of an in-person meeting is often underestimated. Meeting gallery owners face-to-face allows for a genuine connection. It provides an opportunity to shake hands, look into their eyes, and have an engaging conversation about your art. This personal interaction can be a game-changer in building lasting relationships with galleries.

Facing the Fear of Rejection

One of the biggest fears artists have about approaching galleries in person is the fear of rejection. It’s important to understand that rejection is a natural part of the art business. Not every gallery will be the right fit for your work, and that’s okay. The key is to keep pushing through, knowing that each interaction, whether successful or not, is a learning experience and a step closer to finding the right gallery for you. Check out this article for more tips on facing the fear of rejection.

In-Person vs. Email Approaches

While email approaches are a viable option, they often lack the personal touch and can lead to indifference or lack of response from galleries. In-person approaches, on the other hand, offer immediate engagement and the chance to make a memorable impression. If a gallery is within reach, I always advocate for an in-person visit. For those that aren’t, a well-crafted email with a digital portfolio is a good alternative.

The Art of Persistence

Persistence is key when approaching galleries. Whether you choose to visit in person or send emails, follow-up is crucial. In the case of email, you’re more likely to face non-responses than outright rejections. Persistent yet respectful follow-ups can help keep your work at the forefront of the gallery owner’s mind.

Striking a Balance

Combine both in-person and email approaches for maximum impact. Visit galleries that are accessible to you and use emails for those that aren’t. This dual approach ensures that you are leaving no stone unturned in your quest for gallery representation.

Embracing the Challenge: Approaching Galleries Confidently

Approaching galleries in person might seem intimidating, but it’s a powerful step towards advancing your art career. Preparation, understanding the value of personal connections, persistence, and a balanced approach between in-person and email communications are key to overcoming the fear associated with this process. Remember, each gallery visit is an opportunity to grow, learn, and inch closer to your goal of finding the right gallery partnership. So take a deep breath, gather your portfolio, and step confidently into the world of gallery representation.

I invite you to share your experiences and questions about approaching galleries in the comments below. Your stories and inquiries not only enrich our understanding but also help build a supportive community for artists embarking on this journey.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Jason, Alphonse Lane here. I worked with you about 25 years ago in a seminar you gave near the Philadelphia Airport. I’m not sure if you remember me? I wanted to pose the question: I have been painting for over 40 years and have several directions in my work, from abstract to representational to loose representational. Have I doomed myself because I find it too mundane to stick with one direction? I see many artists using the same approach for over 25 years or more, which is excessive, in my opinion. I see no growth other than changing colors and making things more busy or less busy. Am I wrong about that?


    1. just read your bio seems you have done well and been recognized for what you do. embrace the different approaches to your art. every notable artist in history has changed and evolved over time, often changing styles and forms radically. just do what speaks and stop concerning about it.

  2. Excellent post as always, thank you. As a fellow gallery owner, I would just add one thing. Please come in and introduce yourself, and then make an appointment to show your portfolio. When visiting a gallery, don’t assume that the owner or director can sit down with you at that moment and go through your phone photos to see your portfolio. Selling art is all about relationships. The artist and the gallery owner should both be considerate of the other’s time.

    As a full time artist myself, I’ve been on the other side of the desk so I understand what the artist is going through. Now, as a gallery owner representing other artists, I also understand the needs of the gallery. We have submission guidelines on our website that we ask artists to follow. This is something I did as an artist looking for representation. Research, look at gallery websites, visit if possible, and look for their submission policies.

    Thanks again for this blog. I like to share your posts with artists and collectors in our newsletter.

    1. Thank you for the post. I am a photographer and have been putting off talking to gallery owners. I have sold work at shows but would love to get into galleries.
      Is it best to show my photos matted or unmatted in the protfolio? Also, an whole other topic. In talking to gallery owners, how do I go about pricing?
      I have your book “Starving To Successful. Thank you so very much for the information. I plan to read it again.

  3. Jason, you have often stressed the importance of creating a personal connection with a gallery. Since I live in a fairly remote area, contacting a potential gallery would necessarily be via email. Should I send a more personalized artist statement to the gallery in the introductory email, or include a page in my portfolio?

  4. I recently made cold calls to six galleries. All the galleries were a good fit for my paintings. The first time was scary, I held my breath for a second and then walked with one of my best paintings which is 40” x 30”. They couldn’t miss it and it really caught their attention. I introduced myself and said I was looking for gallery representation.
    Their interest continued and I told them how I go about my paintings of horses. I go out to a wild mustang range and other places to get images that capture something special, particularly two horses engaged with each other. The galleries weren’t taking on new artists—in one gallery paintings were stacked against the wall. But I got a very good response from them about my work. I came away feeling very confident because their feedback was so positive. My visits were short so I didn’t take up a lot of their time. I did have more paintings in my care if anyone wanted to see more work. Who doesn’t want to hear people get excited about your work? At the end I always got a business card so I could email my digital portfolio that evening. Again the response to my work was positive and they would consider me in the future. I was surprised that how positive my experience was and took away my fear, even if there were no takers this time.

    1. That’s terrific. I have to keep telling myself that the worst they can say is ‘no’, right?! This is the year where my focus is on gaining visibility as an artist. I want to target and build relationships with luxury interior designers, and then approach galleries. Thanks for the great article Jason.

  5. My advice to any artist is to approach galleries from every angle possible. Most of my fellow gallery owners hate talking with artists off of the street who are looking for representation. I am different, and I always look at any artist’s work because I never know what sort of talent I am going to come across. My advice to the artist walking in off the street, is to take mind of how busy the owner / director appears to be. You want to catch them at a time in the day when they have a moment to talk to you. A good time when it is generally slow is early in the day, or late afternoon around 4:00 pm If they appear real busy, then quietly slip out and come back at another time. . Don’t dress down and come in wearing your studio clothes. Instead, give the impression that you are a successful artist with your appearance. Be well groomed, and confident. If you do not appear confident and sure of your work, then don’t expect others to believe in you. You only have a few seconds to catch their attention, so rehearse what you want to say in a natural way. It should be something which truly represents your work and something which will peak their curiosity and make them want to review your work. Thank them for giving you the opportunity and say something which encapsulates the essence of your work. Something for example like:

    “Thank you for giving me this moment to introduce myself. I do not know if you are familiar with my art, however my work is very much about the spiritual link between the past and the present. I focus on the relationships between color and line, and push the boundaries technically in an unusual and unique manner. The response to my work has been favorably strong”
    If you have had success with your work then casually follow up with that, by adding something simple like: “Thankfully I am pretty proficient, as the demand for my work has been pretty keen.” Any gallery owner wants to hear that.

    You should have your portfolio online, however I like a physical photo copy as well which you can open and place right in front of them. The easier you make it for them, the better chance you can get them to consider you. Don’t go dragging a bunch of paintings in with you. Your photo portfolio should be as professional as possible and include a complete bio , your artist statement, name of notable collectors, awards, etc. Place it all in a nice binder. You should include no more than a dozen images of your work, and they should be pretty current.

    Approaching galleries in person is not always pleasant, especially when you encounter rejection, however don’t take that personally, for rejection is part of the process. Always look for galleries which you feel would be a good fit for you. Be sure as well to compliment the gallery owner on their gallery, and tell them how you have always admire their taste in art. Say with confidence that you believe that you have something to offer them and that you would appreciate their consideration. Get their card when you leave, and always follow up with a thank you letter to them.

  6. What do artists do when they don’t live anywhere close to a gallery? For me it isn’t a matter of overcoming fear. I can not travel to areas with galleries.What do artists like myself do?

    1. My question as well. I live 5 hours from the nearest town that has any galleries at all. I enter as many national shows as possible in hopes of building a little name recognition. After that, I follow their on-line submission policy. Jason has great guidelines on how to prepare an on-line presentation in his business class. I follow that and it has worked. Unfortunately my galleries keep closing for one reason or another.

  7. Imagine walking announced into Gagosian gallery in NYC with your portfolio? 😂 This might work sometimes yes, but in a high caliber gallery is usually a no no. But to start with let’s call entry level galleries yes.

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