by Sergio Gomez
If you want to increase your opportunities in the art world, here are five things you can do that go a long way. As artist, curator and gallery owner I see these tips playing in favor of artists all the time. Try them and see what they can do for you overtime. They are not quick magic tricks.
Most artist submissions to galleries and curators come in the form of digital images. A digital image usually comes cropped without the frame. It is very hard to asses from a picture the quality of the presentation of a work of art. As a curator, I have been both disappointed and pleasantly surprised when I see the real work I had only seen in picture. When a work comes in poorly framed, scratched, dusty, warped, or with no hanging hardware, it really makes a bad impression. I have seen beautiful work presented badly more that what I would prefer. With so many artists out in the world, you want to be remembered as an artist who over delivers in the quality and presentation of your work. What you want to hear is “wow, this looks better than the picture.” Anything less, is not acceptable.
Details, Details, Details
Let’s face it, no gallery director, curator or office manager likes to be chasing artists for information. Whenever a solo show is delivered, always provide all details in a way that each work can be identified properly. Have thumbnails and details of each work easily listed. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but you will be surprised how many artists are not organized this way. We all have missed an item here and there. I am guilty as charged but you do not want this to be the norm. I love to work with artists that are on top of their game and ready with all the information ahead of time. I particularly love Artwork Archive for this task. It allows me to create a full list with images and details in just five minutes. Check it out here if you do not have a system in place.
Offer More Options
When I am invited for a solo show, I always offer more options such as an artist talk, a workshop, a meet/greet, a live performance or whatever the gallery can use to bring more attention to my work. Often, a collector may connect to my work when I take a few minutes to share my story or do some sort of presentation. Perhaps you are timid about public speaking but it really puts you at another level when you take the courage to talk about your work. The most successful artists I know may not be professional public speakers but they can certainly talk about their work. This gives them leverage because when artists give a talk, people tend to listen.
Spread the Word
The gallery has an audience and so do you. Whether it is big or small, nowadays everyone has an audience in social media. Increasingly, I see more galleries gravitating toward artists who are out there pushing their work in social media and helping spread the word. It is a welcomed asset besides the work itself. I still find artists who I look at their social media and all I see is everything but their art. As a curator, I am always looking and I know so many curators and galleries do the same. If a gallery is showing your work, share it and tag the gallery. If you go to a show and like the work, share it and tag the gallery. Be smart and use social media to your art advantage.
Be a Team Player
A solo show is a partnership between the artist and the gallery or museum. Both ends have to do their part. When planning a solo show, always be in communication with the gallery or curator. Do not disappear or be out of reach. It helps in the partnership to be a good team player. Sometimes unexpected things may happen and you need to be flexible. At the end, both parties want to have a successful show. Remember that nobody likes to work with difficult people.
Expect and Give Respect
Respect should always be mutual. I hate it when artists share stories of gallery owners or curators that treat them like if they are second class citizens. You should always walk into a gallery with confidence not arrogance. Don’t let a gallery owner step over you just because he/she runs the show. If it is not a respectful relationship, don’t pursue it or get out of it. Your dignity as a person is important.
Make these into common practices as part of your career. They will serve you well over time.