For many photographers, the Mecca of accomplishments is to have your work displayed on a wall – and in many cases that means a wall other than your own home. In other words, gallery displays.  There are lots of ways you can go about accomplishing this, and for the record, I have not had my work featured in any galleries to speak of.  However, in talking with people who manage galleries, and in hearing nuggets and useful tidbits of information from those who have had work featured, it seems there are commonalities that can be seen no matter where you want to have your work shown.

So, here are 5 tips for getting your work into galleries:

  1. Have a theme to your work – while we all enjoy showing off “Best of” works, that doesn’t really work in galleries, so make sure the work you want to have shown has a theme to it – whether the theme is urban architecture, natural landscapes, gritty portraiture, or fruit baskets, gallery owners will be sold better on displaying your work if there is a flow to it.
  2. Follow the submission guidelines – Galleries get people from all walks of life and submissions all the time.  To make their process flow easier, they establish parameteres to make the process easier.  If you want to get into a gallery, respect their time by following their guidelines.  As a corollary, a quick way to get rejected is to think their guidelines don’t apply to you.
  3. Be consistent – besides the theme of your work, make sure all your images are printed to the same dimensions, matted the same, and framed the same.  You want the gallery owner to see your work, not a mish-mash of geometric shapes and colors that will only serve to distract them from your work.
  4. Deliver prints loosely – in the event they don’t want matted work, framed work, or shrink-wrapped work (many don’t), deliver your prints loosely.  This allows the reviewer to lay all your images out on a table, move them around (seeing how things might flow best on the walls), and awkward mats or heavy framing can be a detraction.
  5. Let them know who you are – this doesn’t mean just walking in, saying your name and dumping the prints on their hands.  It means having an Artist Statement that talks about your background, your creative vision and artistic goals, or even a little about the body of work.  Title it how you want, whether it be an “Artist Statement”, “About the Artist”, or even “Fruit Montage” – give the reviewer more information.  Include your name, address, phone, email, and even a website if you have more work featured there.  How sad it would be if an owner wanted to give you a show, but couldn’t find you!

SO, there’s the quick tips for today on how to get your work featured in galleries.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a Friday wrap-up, and some more useful photography information as we head into August!   Don’t forget, tomorrow is the last day to enter your best “Numbers” themed photo in the OnOne Software giveaway.  Check out the details on the Flickr Thread.

Until tomorrow then, happy shooting!

4 thoughts on “Getting into Galleries

  1. Great stuff on this posting Jason. And Dave, super follow up.

    My first gallery showing turned into so much more. It turned into an invite to create an expanded gallery and reproduction shop. That’s where I work now, and my portfolio has expanded. Oh, and my wall space has grown too. 🙂

    I have one final thought on getting into galleries. If you’re coming in to meet with a gallery owner, and you haven’t even bothered to make an appointment, please, please, please don’t interrupt the gallery staff when they’re with a client. We all love our work, and we want validation, I get it. But pushing a laptop under a gallery owner’s nose to show your portfolio while they’re actually making a sale sets you up for a very bad experience.

    And yes, that’s happened to me on more than one occasion. I’d strongly suggest a phone call, e-mail, letter to make an appointment. Being rude will rarely get you in. 🙂

    Like Dave said above, if you’ve got questions I’d be happy to answer them as well. Just click on my name here and it will pop you over to my site where you can contact me.

  2. One other BIG thing to add. I have owned a gallery with my wife for several years, and was Executive Director of the Earthman Art Center. On top of that, we have both consulted to artists and art groups about the very issue you are talking about. And…these are GREAT tips! However, BIGGEST thing to remember, is how to APPROACH them! Best way is to email them, send some images or web address, and then ask if there is a convenient time to meet with them to show your work. The thing gallery owners hate most, is having someone just ‘drop in’ to show their work. It has to be an invitation! Also, make sure that you only approach galleries who WOULD show the kind of photography that you do. For instance, don’t first approach a gallery that only shows abstract painters and has NEVER shown photography. Better approach is to find galleries that have shown photography, and ones that have shown the type of work that you do – for instance landscapes. It increases your odds and helps with your ego. It’s tough to get so many ‘no’ answers before someone says yes. But, once that first gallery showing happens, you are able to add it to your resume, which then helps you get into OTHER galleries! Anyone who needs additional tips, feel free to contact me through the info on the website.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I have thinking I need to make the plunge and do something productive like this.

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