Finding a Gallery to Exhibit Your Art

In answer to our number one most asked question “ How do I find an art gallery to exhibit my art?”

With several types art galleries out there, how do you know which gallery will be the best fit for exhibiting your art? Before you start approaching galleries, you need to first understand which type of gallery is best suited to your art, what type/style of art they represent and whether the gallery services meet your business goals. In this article, I’m going to talk about the three main types of galleries.

Every gallery has its own policies regarding submissions, I’ve outlined the basis approach, however, you will need to research each gallery to learn about their individual policies. The internet is a handy tool for this research and will save you lots of energy and long distance phone expenses.

Independent and Commercial Galleries

Commercial galleries are traditionally privately owned and operated. They usually act as an artists agent, most taking a large percentage of the sale price of each piece as a commission. For this they provide some very valuable services:

• Business management

• Framing

• Storage of art

• Publicity

• Exhibition costs (catering, marketing, etc.)

• Negotiations with prospective buyers

• Invoicing and accounting

They are professional dealers, who know collectors and have a financial stake in promoting their artists’ work. Becoming attached to a commercial gallery is ideal for many artists as they are able to focus on their artwork instead of the business side of selling their art.

HOW to APPLY: Research the galleries you are interested by visiting their website to see if your art is suited to their gallery. Most commercial galleries have submission guidelines posted on their website. If not, telephone or email a nicely crafted letter (be sure to include a link to your art portfolio online).

Artist-Run Galleries

An artist-run space is a gallery operated by artists. These are usually run as a non-profit art gallery and may be run as a cooperative with or without a paid membership. Designed to meet the needs of emerging or mid-career artists, artist-run galleries provide a professional space for quality artworks, along with the value of mentorships.

Artist-run galleries tend to focus on contemporary and/or exploratory artworks. Their exhibitions offer an opportunity to speak out about contemporary art, artist rights, issues, culture, language, age and gender.

If your art is more traditional, artist-run galleries may not be a good fit. However, I strongly recommend being a paid member as they provide plenty of opportunities for networking and interacting with other artists in your region.

Funding may come from regional arts councils, but most rely on fundraising events, membership fees and private donations.

Here are some samples of artist-run galleries:

The Or Gallery , Vancouver, Canada

Soil Gallery, Seattle, USA

Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY

Modern Fuel Artist-Run Center, Kingston, Canada

HOW to APPLY: Proposals for exhibitions are usually forward to a gallery coordinator and reviewed by committee. Visit their individual websites to see application guidelines and specifically if your art meets the mandate of their organization.

Museums and Government-funded Galleries

Institutional galleries exhibit art for the purpose of education and entertainment—some may also sell art in their gift stores or through fundraising. Selection for artwork is largely driven by the galleries curatorial focus, funding options and popularity of the artist or subject matter.

Sufficient time to plan and organize major exhibitions as well as related educational, marketing and fundraising initiatives requires these galleries to plan their exhibitions well in advance often scheduling exhibitions up to 3 years in advance. That is not to say that you will “have” to wait this long for an exhibition, however, this planning schedule is better suited to established artists who are not in need of immediate income from their work.

HOW to APPLY: Submission of art should be directed to the Curator and include a statement of intent, visual representation of the artwork (slides, photocopies, computer prints or CDs), a resume and any other relevant materials about the work such as critical reviews, catalogues, etc. Submissions proposals may take up to 3+ months for a response to be received.

Hint: If you have an established body of work, try submitting to smaller, municipal or county institutions. Because funding is often supplemented by the civic government, these galleries may have a mandate to add regional artists to their exhibition programming.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please let me know what you think by commenting below.


Comment on this post:

Do you think museums and galleries should be mandated to exhibit local artwork?

Would you prefer to sell your own art and keep the 100% of the profit, or have an art dealer do all the work for you and share the proceeds?