Whether a seasoned gallery owner or you’ve just opened your first art gallery, finding, attracting and keeping talented creators can be a challenge. How can you attract the attention of well-known artists and interest them in showcasing their work in your gallery? Consider taking these steps to make the initial contact and a memorable first impression.
Call in the existing connections and friendships
Perhaps you entered this business because you are either an artist yourself, an art critic, a former industry professional, or a life-long art devotee. Either way, your passion for art must have paved the way for creating certain friendships in the industry, and now is the time to enjoy those relationships to the fullest.
Spread the word about your business and renew all relevant professional connections that could benefit your gallery in the future. Let the people know you’re on the hunt for quality artists for your space and empty your calendar for future meetings, coffee dates, workshops, and lectures. Meet as many artists as you can in person. Prepare your elevator pitch and get ready to enthuse them to become a part of your success story.
Boost your gallery’s online presence and appeal
In a time when everyone is on the Internet and social media, ignoring digital marketing is the greatest no-no for any startup business. Creating and maintaining the appeal of your gallery on its official website and social media accounts is crucial for attracting attention to your efforts and sending a message about the values your business can bring to its target audience.
The appeal of your gallery is an aspect that requires more than a good-looking color scheme and a professional logo. Your website must be fully optimized for search engines (primarily Google) and packed with concise information about your gallery. Your business’s social media accounts should be visually appealing and updated regularly.
If an artist decides to learn more about your exhibition space and potentially contact you to suggest cooperation, they should be wowed by what they see. Everyone wants a reliable, esteemed partner, and no artist will ever approach you if your gallery fails to leave a great first impression.
Create and publish your gallery’s submission policy
Whether a gallery will accept submissions from artists or not is a matter of individual preference. However, this can be a great way to get in touch with artists that are interested in this type of collaboration.
If you want your gallery to accept submissions, the first thing you must do is create your submission policy and guidelines. These documents should cover any specifications you find important: The type of artwork you’re willing to consider, the acceptable formats and mediums, the aspect of artwork insurance, delivery and retrieval, and any other condition you find relevant.
Once you’ve prepared these documents, showcase them on your website and make them easily accessible to anyone willing to read and consider your terms. Make sure to clearly state the preferred method of communication, so any interested artist can easily contact you in case your conditions sound appealing to them.
Offer perks with your gallery commissions
The commission a gallery will take for showcasing and selling art pieces depends on several factors, most important of which are the reputation of the gallery and/or the artist in question. Although these commissions are one of the main channels that bring in revenue, your gallery might benefit from having relatively low commissions while you are still establishing your business in the art dealership world.
If you set your commissions too high, you risk driving artists away from your exhibition space. This is why you should earn their trust first by giving your first applicants special perks for signing with you rather than your competitors. As the reputation of your gallery grows, you will slowly raise your commission when the time is right.
Lifting your business off the ground, especially in the art world, is a journey of a thousand steps. Although many gallerists hope for an instant “boom” that will make their space famous and hip overnight, it often takes quite some time to become known and respected in the art community.
Staying patient and nurturing professional connections are the most important things you can do as an owner of a new gallery looking for quality artists to raise the profile of your business. To be able to get value, you must be prepared to offer some in return. Although you can’t promise fame and fortune to the artists you sign with, you can show them you appreciate their art and offer them perks other galleries wouldn’t.
Pour your heart and soul into your work and professional relationships, stay relevant and active on social media, and maintain your website regularly. Soon enough, the proposals will start flowing in.
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