Although one of my favourite places to exhibit is in New York, I also love to show in many places on the international stage. I’ve been accustomed to exhibiting my art in many places other than my home country Australia, because of a number of reasons. I believe the primary reason is because of my work being different from standard practice.
One of the first things that I’d recommend for an artist when they’re contacting a gallery for the first time is to never do it cold.
There is a fine line between pestering and simply being professional and following up. In my experience some of the best media coverage that I have had has come about through my providing a professional and detailed media release. That’s the first step. Following up on this is crucial, even just to find out whether the editor has received the press release that you have prepared.
There were some events where I noticed my works were being bundled together with far too many other auction items, resulting in my work not achieving the kind of price that I was comfortable with. I think what happened with some of these events, was that people just became too focused on quantity and not quality and as a result some really good pieces of art were compromised.
I ended up consulting the local regional Gallery director for his opinion about how I should handle this matter and was advised to just simply stop putting my art up for auction in these local events. This was not easy for me to do because these events were being run by very good friends and many of my contemporaries continued to work up for auction at these events, so in some ways I felt like I separated myself, but it was necessary for me to protect the integrity of pricing scale of my work.
While charity events can be great marketing opportunities for you, the mix of people who attend include people with no interest in art as well as potentially, the serious collector. Anything is possible, just be sure to manage your expectations.
I have found it a great thing to see an artist who I have recommended to enter for a major competition, being actually hung. Sometimes it can be the launch pad for their whole career by being seen in a prominent museum or nationally recognized gallery as part of one of these prizes. The fact is you have to enter in order to have the possibility of being hung all of even possibly winning.
Read through the entry form and conditions thoroughly and ask around to see if the particular prize is reputable and recognized.
If the prize is an international one, check the details very clearly. Many young artists have fallen prey to paying large fees and attending exhibitions and competitions internationally because of the perceived boost for their career and recognition, only to later discover that the particular exhibition was not what they expected.
Sometimes you may wonder whether it’s worth the expense especially if you are producing 1000 or more postcards, in my experience it’s worth the expense simply because it becomes a postcard that people are more likely to hold onto or pass on.
Now it’s not a case of all bad stories. Of course there are exceptions and this is why I mention these cases. In my experience I have had some of the most amazing connections and experiences with certain art galleries and their directors. I remember one art gallery director who had a premium gallery in Western Australia and I was a member of his stable. He knew I had a certain amount of debt at the time and wanted to see how I would make my art being completely free of debt and certain of a regular income. So he cleared my debts for me and put me on a retainer, which lasted for well over a year. During this time I ended up producing some work, which to this day I am still very proud of. It was critically acclaimed and helped to establish me at the time. I will always be grateful to this particular person for his kindness and generosity.
You need to prove yourself over time and build your resume one line at a time, establishing consistent track records of successful shows. You need to convince gallery directors that you’re committed to making art. You must impress curators and critics. And you must demonstrate you’re capable of doing what’s expected – selling well and selling consistently. Galleries don’t establish artists’ reputations – they only enhance them.