10. DON’T get frustrated if your application goes unanswered. Hopefully, a gallery will at least do you the courtesy of acknowledging your application, but they often do not. My general rule is that once I apply to something I “forget” about it rather than worry or obsessively check my email. If I hear back, hooray! – if not, oh well. There will always be more to apply to. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow up. It is appropriate to send a message about a week or two after the initial one to ask if your application was received or if it is being reviewed. If they still don’t respond, however, then it’s time to move on.
11. DO consider alternative models like co-op galleries. Depending on where you are in your career, it might be worth it for you to exchange a few sitting hours per month for the opportunity to show. Always read their agreements carefully to decide if the exhibition potential outweighs the membership fees and/or working requirements.
Speaking of alternatives to the traditional gallery – connecting with independent curators, art advisors and interior designers can help broaden your client base as well. While most galleries sell to private individuals or people purchasing on behalf of an institution, a curator or designer might be looking for art to place in a corporate office, hotel lobby, restaurant or department store, and some are tasked with finding artists for large-scale mural projects. But most importantly, never underestimate the power of building your own personal brand! With a strong website and social media presence, you can start to make sales on your own.
12. Lastly, DON’T let the fear of rejection hold you back. When I was still in art school, I remember finding a gallery focused on emerging artists. I compared myself to who they were already showing and thought that I fit the bill, but I was too scared and talked myself out of submitting an application for a whole YEAR! Luckily, once I finally bit the bullet and applied, I heard back shortly after and was asked to bring in a few pieces for a final review. At my meeting, the gallery director decided to take all of them and I signed a contract on the spot. Sadly, the gallery eventually closed, but at the time despite being overjoyed at the positive outcome, I was a little disappointed in myself for having given into my self-doubt for so long. Don’t let that be you.
Everyone at Create! is cheering for you! So, go, apply to amazing galleries and get represented. Tell us about it when you do ;)