Monday, October 25, 2010

Artist Survival Kit Recap: Expanding Your Horizons

On Saturday, October 23, we held the “Expanding Your Horizons: Finding New Markets For Your Art” workshop at the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery in Norman. This topic is frequently requested by artists and was well-attended on a rainy Saturday.

The three speakers were Dr. Joy Reed Belt, owner of JRB Art at The Elms gallery in Oklahoma’s City’s Paseo District; along with two artists, Jonathan Hils and Kate Rivers.

Dr. Belt gave attendees advice from the gallery perspective, emphasizing the importance of defining what you want out of a gallery relationship and then finding the gallery that suits your desires as well as your artistic work.

The two artist speakers echoed Dr. Belt’s remarks, both saying their gallery relationships developed over time and were a product of networking and getting to know the people of the gallery and the artists that were represented there.

Kate Rivers outlined the “4 P’s” needed for developing a successful gallery relationship.

1. Product
As an artist, your product is your artwork. Many galleries require artists to have a certain number of pieces on hand at all times, and they should change regularly. Plan to create your product on a consistent basis.

2. Passion
Being a working artist is not easy, and it will take some drive and determination to keep going. Galleries will want to see that you’ve shown passion in your work through a history of artistic practice, as demonstrated through your resume.

3. Professional Practice
One of the best ways to foster a strong relationship with your gallery is to do as much as you can to make their job easier. This includes things like strong presentation of your work (framing, etc), providing quality images of your work, and consistent communication and record keeping.

4. Portfolio/Packet
Your portfolio will likely be your first introduction to a gallery. Be sure it looks as good as it possibly can! You absolutely must follow the submission instructions outlined by the gallery (no exceptions). If no guidelines are given, here’s a list of what you should include:
Letter of introduction
Artist’s statement
Artist’s resume (short version showing the highlights)
CD of ten images (unless the gallery requests something different)
Annotated image list
Reproductions of 2-3 works
Publicity from past shows
Contact information on EVERYTHING

The next Artist Survival Kit workshop will be "Oh, Snap! Documenting Your Work in Photos" on February 5, 2011. It will be held at the Oklahoma City Community College Art Department. Prior to the workshop, time slots will be available for artists to sign up to have their work photographed. More details coming soon at

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