Artists from around the world seek my career advice on many different topics, but the most frequent inquiries are about getting into New York art galleries. If you are thinking of approaching top New York dealers, there are some rules and tips I always recommend.
You may also want to read my article “How to Approach New York Art Galleries” which offers a lot of advice on the subject.
Follow This Series of Steps
* Be persistent and learn how to cope with apathy and rejection.
* Build a strong body of work.
* First exhaust the best venues in your area to build sales and recognition. In other words, become “a big fish in a small pond” before you try to jump into the big sea of New York galleries.
* Procure one-person exhibitions in respectable exhibition venues in other major cities.
* Build your assets, present your strengths and don’t apologize for your weaknesses.
* The more you bring to the table – well-developed artwork, awards, fellowships, grants, positive reviews and loyal collectors of your art – the more leverage you have with the gallery.
* Many dealers’ look at artists’ work upon referrals so make an effort to establish relationships with the artists who are already in the gallery, and curators, critics, collectors or other dealers who are in the gallery’s sphere of influence.
* You have probably realized that personal taste, personality and background, aesthetic concerns, collectors’ demands, among others things, influence choice. Art dealer Mary Boone said, “Taste is a combination of a thousand different things that are known and unknown.”
* Some dealers use phrases like “falling in love with the art” while others concentrate on the commercial value of the work. Most will agree that they seek professional behavior and commitment on behalf of the artists.
* Most dealers are inundated by emails and inquiries from a wide variety of artists on a weekly basis, many of which are inappropriate for the direction of the gallery. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the shows they mount and the aesthetic direction they pursue before submitting materials for consideration.
* When they say they’re “not looking” it may be because they schedule shows a year or two in advance and are focused on their current projects. My experience has taught me galleries “are looking” when the right artist and artwork comes along. Smart dealers are always interested in artists who display outstanding talent and vision.
So, if that’s you, persist with confidence, but don’t ignore taking the other steps I outlined above.
You may also want to read my article “How to Approach New York Art Galleries” which offers a lot of advice.by