Looking to increase your opportunities in the art world?
Artist, curator and gallery owner Sergio Gomez gives us the top practices that benefit artists.
While there are no quick magic tricks, here are six things you can put into practice that will pay off in the long term.
Over-deliver on quality
Most artist submissions to galleries and curators come in the form of digital images, with that image cropped and without the frame. It is very hard to assess the quality of the presentation of a work of art from a picture.
As a curator, I have been both disappointed and pleasantly surprised when I see the real work I had only seen in the picture. When your artwork comes in a scratched, dusty, or warped frame or with no hanging hardware, it really makes a bad impression. I have seen beautiful work presented poorly and it reflects negatively on that artist.
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.
The devil is in the details. Don't let them defeat you.
Let’s face it, no gallery director, curator or office manager likes to chase down artists for information. Whenever you deliver your work, always provide all details in a way that each work can be identified properly.
Have thumbnails of your artwork with and supporting details clearly listed out for them.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you will be surprised how many artists are not organized. 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.
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 and greet, a live performance or whatever the gallery can use to bring more attention to my work.
Often, a collector may make a stronger connection with 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 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 and apply it to what they are seeing.
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 on social media and helping spread the word. It is a welcomed asset beyond the work itself. I still find artists who include everything but their art on their social media channels. As a curator, I am always looking at how and what you include on your profile and 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 advantage. It will increase your opportunities if done correctly.
Be a team player
A show, especially 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. In 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 they run 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.
Employing these behaviors will serve you well over time and increase your opportunities in the art world.
Take the first step by trying out Artwork Archive to manage all the details of your price and inventory lists, invoices and more.
Sergio Gomez is a Chicago based visual artist, curator, and creative entrepreneur. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University. Sergio’s work has been the subject of over 40 solo exhibitions and has participated in over 150 group exhibitions in the US and abroad.
He is also the founder and director of 33 Contemporary Gallery, director of exhibitions at the Zhou B. Art Center, and co-founder of the Art NXT Level Program which helps artists launch and succeed in their art career.