...serenity in motion
I was talking with a Gallery Director and she told me about a lady who came in and cornered her with her portfolio. The woman had been told that her work would be perfect for the space by her friends so she pulled her stuff together and took it all into the Gallery Director's office. No appointment, no inquiry about convenience, just "Hi, here I am and my work would be perfect here." The director was telling me how the portfolio wasn't very well done, didn't showcase the work in the best way, and when the woman left the building; she was just going to get her best things to show and didn't realize the meeting was over.
I could go on and on about how many wrong things the artist did that I could see but, I was amazed by the director. She asked me how I felt she could have handled it better and did I think there was a better way to deal with the artist. The Gallery Director Wanted to Improve Her Reaction! I was stunned. We talked about how much courage it took the artist to do beard the lion in it's den. We both respected the artist's tenacity, and while we were appalled that she didn't think to call ahead or make an appointment; we realized that we were looking at an artist that had taken the first step.
The GD and I discussed different ways to handle the situation and we came up with some ideas that would help an artist who was in the beginning of their professional journey. I admired her for really considering how the artist felt and what she could do to help her and the others that would be following in her wake. I don't know who the artist was; she was so flustered, she didn't leave any contact information. I would have been happy to reach out to her and offer advice. We all have had help and the best way to pay that back, is to pay it forward.
Why do I share this? Because it is important to share the other side of the story. We hear a lot about how gallery this or show that refused us. We worked hard and they didn't appreciate all of our efforts. That a gallery seems faceless and uncaring or they never get back to us. Galleries get unsolicited inquiries all of the time and they can't all be answered. Some they file away for later, others they file away to watch and finally others end up in the round file. It isn't what they want to do. They aren't heartless, ask Blair at Art Spirit Gallery in CDA ID. She will tell you that she wishes she could represent everyone who submitted. It breaks their hearts to turn away talent or those who have the courage to submit. Try not to take their refusal personally. It isn't about you and sometimes it has nothing to do with your ability. Gallery directors know their market and they will only invite those who sell off their walls. Every show takes time and time equals a monetary investment. As a business, they need to make each minute pay something. They won't waste your time or theirs by hanging you if they don't think they can sell it (Think Andy Warhol in Jackson WY).
When approaching a gallery, try to remember the people on the other side. Look on their website to see if they have a way to submit there and try to follow their guidlines. Make sure your art fits their profile but doesn't match others there. You want to be individual but something that works with the galleries profile. They will not see you as a person, they can't afford to. They are going to look at your art and it doesn't hurt to ask in your submission, I would love feedback if you have time.
We are all people just trying to succeed in a difficult market. Be patient with yourself and others and forgiving as well. Good luck.