Get a Show.
As a Gallery Director for more than a decade, I have been asked over and over for “tricks” or “tips” to getting into group and solo shows. Well, your art should be good, or at least promising–that should be the most important fact. But to tell the truth, there’s a gallery out there for most art– the sumptuous, the bland and the sour.
ArtAndArtDeadlines.com is not intended to be used exclusively by the burgeoning artist that needs a place to start. But, a lot of the artists that have been working for years still make the same rookie mistakes, too. So, for the record, I offer you The ART of Cooking: How to Get a Show.
1. Read the Recipe. If you are trying to build your artistic resume, I recommend starting with juried group shows. Most galleries offer an online prospectus that you can download and/or print. Read them carefully from start to finish and follow directions. Make sure you are sending your submissions in the right size, right format, with the right payment and on time. Make sure that you clearly understand the theme, if applicable. If you don’t understand it, don’t submit because you’re wasting your money.
2. A Watched Pot Never Boils. The deadline for notifications on a juried show has passed, and you haven’t received word. Do you call? Do you email? No and No. Artists are often deadline-challenged and so are jurors. Be patient; they’ll get back to you.
3. Research Ingredients. Be careful to always use quality ingredients–canvas, primers, paints. With rare exception, hot glue and craft paint is discouraged. It never fails that the one time you’re goofing around sketching on the back of a napkin–you’ll create a masterpiece. A masterpiece can be copied but never duplicated. Doodles on the back of a Waffle House napkin are not often sought after for gallery shows. Click Here to read a blog on napkin art proving me both wrong …and right.
4. Wear Your Chef Whites. Self-taught artists are often treated like the dishwasher in a 5-star restaurant. You have to prove you can cook with the best of them. First, do your research. Understand the gallery’s mission and previous shows. Learn about both the gallery director and the jurors. Google is your friend. Second, package yourself for the show and the gallery. Do not lie on your resume (ever…and I mean it), but learn to present the side of you and your work that they want to see.
5. Spilled Milk. You WILL be rejected regardless of the quality of the work. It is inevitable. Keep records of every entry. Know exactly what you sent and when. Keep all rejection letters. When it is time to send out a submission, you can then figure out what hasn’t worked and where. Don’t send duplicate work to the same gallery. Sometimes you will even get an HONEST rejection letter that will teach you where your recipe went oh so wrong. Click Here to read one artist’s personal rejection letters.
6. Cream Only Please. Learn how to self edit. Don’t send all your work to a gallery for review. Only send the cream. An artist does not exist whose hollandaise hasn’t curdled. Allow yourself the freedom to create bad work occasionally…just don’t send it to a gallery, please.
7. No Cheetos. Photoshop is a wonderful thing. Color correction is a wonderful thing. It is amazing what you can do to the photo you took on the grayish wall in your bedroom lit only by the single bulb suspended over your bed. However, if your still-life oil of bananas does not glow like Cheetos in the original, don’t oversaturate it after the fact. If your little banana souflee is juried into a show and fails to rise on arrival, it will be returned to you C.O.D.
8. Iron the Tablecloth. Granted, not all artists are photographers, and not all artists can afford professional photographers. Not being a photographer does not excuse bad backdrops. If I see one more piece of sculpture shot in front of a wrinkled tablecloth, I may lose my appetite–permanently. Iron the tablecloth.
9. Bread Doesn’t Make the Sandwich. The same sentiment is true of frames. The fastest way to have your slides or CD thrown in the trash is to put a bright brass sectional frame on your work. Either frame your work conservatively or photograph your work unframed. I prefer to crop images tight so as not to distract the juror by framing, edges or backgrounds. Alternately, use gallery wrapped canvas. I’m a big fan of Cheap Joe’s Prime Extra Deep Canvas–no framing required.
These are the tips that pop to mind, but I’ll keep this post updated as a page called The ART of Cooking. Send a link to your friends! Email me if you have any questions or suggestions.