Getting into art galleries

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This is just kind of a curiosity with me...how do people "break into" the art gallery scene? I mean how do people get their work shown in galleries BEFORE they become famous?

Just curious.
 

Donald Miller

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Robert,

I encountered this site some time ago. www.art-support.com

Additionally in the last 3 or 4 issues of Black and White magazine (the magazine for collectors, not the British publication) there has been a series of articles written by a galarie owner (in New Mexico) that approached this subject from the galarie owner's perspective.

Hope that this helps.
 

avandesande

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There was an article in Lenswork about a year ago with a somewhat biased view on art galleries and some bad experiences (as an artist). Although biased I found it informative.
 

blansky

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I think there are two different kinds of galleries. There is the local ones, generally in smaller cities, that are sometimes connected to the local museum etc. These would be far easier to get into.

Then there are the commercial art galleries that are for profit. Their interest in you would only be if they think they can make money off your work. It is almost like renting real estate to them. Their walls have to make enough money to pay their rent and pay their employees. This is a lot tougher sell. Your work obviously has to be exceptional.

That's my limited knowledge.

Michael McBlane
 

fhovie

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An artist friend of mine talked me into entering a couple of photographs in the local art museum juried art exhibition this year. It is a small town art museum and probably a thousand entries are considered. They put two of my prints on display for two months. The big hit here is that I got to meet a lot of folks that are plugged into the comercial art and art gallery scene. Next year they will see me again. Everytime I show my face here, more doors open up. It maybe one way of getting "there" - Gee I might be able to make enough money to pay for chemicals!! -Frank
 

tommorris

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Yeah. Each exhibition does open more doors. I talk not from experience (I've exhibited once, at a college exhibition...), but because my family inherited many paintings to sell after my grandfather's death. We had a one-man-show at the little gallery up the road, and from that, various people approached us, which has led to more exhibtions.

Another good thing is probably to join a local group. My local group, IPSE, has a big exhibition every two years, for photography, or anything related. These can probably help break in to the scene.

Plus submitting work to magazines might help - not the rags like Amateur Photographer, but some of the more serious mags like the fantastic Black and White Photographer.
 

Jorge

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First go and look the types of work the gallery has, and try to imagine if your work will fit with the images or prints they are showing.

Second you have to have a fresh perspective or something unusual to show. If you are doing vegetables you better be doing them better than Weston, if you are doing portraits they should be better than Karsh or Hurrell, if you are doing flowers, hopefully they are different than and better than Mapplethorpe...so there lies the difficulty, you have to have a style that shows a fresh perspective and unusual or at least different qualities than what has been done so far.

Third you have to have technical expertise, you have to know what is a good print with contrast. Not everybody will like your pictures or the subjects you choose, but almost universally collectors know when a print is well done technically. I used to know a guy who wanted to be a fine arts photographer, but his prints lacked contrast, in many cases some area of the print was soft and out of focus and it was obvious it was a mistake done at the time of focusing not intentional to define the subject matter. In contrast his good friend John Charles Woods, had exquisite prints, but........

fourth, you have to be pleasant, willing not to take rejection personally, persistent and above all not have a chip on your shoulder. from the previous example neither photographer has done very well, the friend had very ordinary, derivative bad prints, and John Charles Woods, although he has written a book the two times I had the chance to meet him on a personal basis, he struck me as arrogant and that he could not be bothered with us mere mortals. He can make some of the most beautiful prints both in color or B&W I have ever seen, but you rarely hear of him, I imagine because he treats art gallery owners the same way.
IOW you have to be a good salesman, marketer and yes...have some aptitude for bullshitting.

By some twist of fate I have been lucky to meet and make friendships with photographers who at the time were unknown and now are famous and these are the qualities I noticed. They were technically excellent, they had a fresh view of things, they are persistent and thick skinned and they are very nice people to be around, willing to help and truly enjoy photography and the interaction with people that it brings.

In my experience if you have all these qualities getting into a gallery will not be hard for you, if OTOH you lack any of this, you are SOL Of course, if you can bullshit with the best of them then you might still make it, many a times I have seen the ability to market yourself be more important than the proficiency of the artist. Of course the exceptions that prove the rule are those artists who do controversial or bizarre work.
 

Eric Rose

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It also helps to find a "patron". Someone who is well connected in the art circles in your area that is willing to champion your work. Sometimes a well placed comment at tea to the right person from the right person will go much further than anything else. But of course once you get your break, then it's up to you to keep the interest up.
 

fhovie

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Jorge:

That was a great post - Thanks!

Frank
 

Jorge

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Thanks Frank, BTW Robert, you dont need to worry about this. You are a photo.net villain, you are already famous......
laugh.gif
 

Jim Chinn

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There is a group called Photo-Resistance (with a French pronounciation of resistance) that has gallery space in a couple of New England galleries. From what I understand you can lease space for a print or two and they will hang your work for exposure and sale. I think a membership fee is supposed to provide certain benefits such as having your work included on a CD of all the members work. I don't have the web address handy but a quick google search should provide it.
 
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