How to Apply for Gallery Representation
If you are an unknown or emerging artist approaching a gallery for representation, think about representation as a long-time partnership or friendship rather than immediate wall space to show your work.
Your first letter to the gallery – ahem, gallerist, should be a kind introduction to you and your work, not a sales pitch. A gallery is often an art dealer/gallerist with a space either brick-and-mortar or on the web, not an institution and we like to be approached as such, as human beings with hopes and dreams just like you.
When the gallerist reads your email, they aren’t just thinking, do I like this artwork? They are also thinking, is this a person I want in my inner circle? Do I want to elevate this person's career and grow together? Can I believe in this person and can I trust this person?
Here are items to include in an email to a gallerist or team of gallerists who you have done your research on and seem like a great fit for your artwork.
- Write a personal letter and I mean personal. Write “Dear name-of-gallerist.”
- How do you know about the gallery? Do you have mutual friends? Why do you want to be represented by this particular gallery?
- Where in the world are you? Are you local, across the country or international? The gallery wants to know.
- Tell the gallerist about your process. You might have this info on your website or on social somewhere they can find it but come on, make them feel special!
- What awards have you won? Who else shows your art? Brag a little. After all, the gallery will ultimately be the one selling your art, let them know what others are saying about it.
- What is your goal with art, both with medium mastery, message and even personal life, what makes you tick?
- What are your contact info, website and social media handles?
- What is your availability to visit the gallery, studio visit or do a call or Zoom meet?
- Send pics of your art with dimensions, medium, price and pics of you in the studio. The gallerist wants to see the person who’s making the art- put a face with the name.
- What can you bring to the table? Are prices flexible? Can you deliver artwork? Can you share the gallery on social media? What ways other than your artworks can you contribute to the artist/gallery relationship?
- Ask for a response even if that response is feedback on the art or the proposal itself and then follow up with a thank you.
- If you get a positive response but it isn’t representation, just “I like your work but it’s not a good fit right now,” follow up in 6 months. While your work is evolving, the gallery is also changing and you might be a better fit later.
I wish you all the best in your search. Let me know how it’s going in the comment section. Partnerships take time and the right one could be right around the corner if you are showing up and putting your art out into the world. And with or without a gallery, always advocate for your art. People love to see the art you make. Art inspires, delights and connects us to each other and everything.