Having run a gallery and an arts organization, I’ve personally received thousands of art submissions from artists looking to garner support, advocacy, or representation for their work. Having read those submissions, there are pitfalls that repeat themselves, so much so that I thought it worth addressing! There are many ideas as to how to gain traction as an artist, but having some fundamental building blocks in place sets up the personal interactions that turn into opportunities.
Read the following 5 tips on how to gain traction & get serious about how you represent your art.
Read The Submission Guidelines!
If you take photos, don’t submit your art to a gallery that only features abstract watercolors. It seems simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received submissions from people whose art looks nothing like anything we feature. By reading a little more about each gallery or outlet you’re submitting your work to, you can save yourself a lot of time and increase the chances that people will respond.
Respond To Emails, Yo!
I’m not going to belabor this. If you send your work to someone and then just don’t reply, it’s easy to figure out what the problem is. If you’re trying to professionalize your art, professionalize the rest of your outreach and communications. If people are trying to give you an opportunity, respond to them. Gaining traction as an artist has a lot to do with the work that resides outside the canvas.
Instagram Is Dope, But You Need A Website
To my mind, Squarespace is the best place to get a great looking, secure, professional website up and running quickly. You’re limited in what you can do, but there are tons of visually-stunning templates that will do your work justice (if you have good images of your work). Don’t overthink this, the idea is that you want to have a clean, branded presence where interested parties can easily view and buy your work. Squarespace has store functionality, so it really has everything you need.
If you insist on a custom build, WordPress is great, but again, don’t overthink it.
Display Enough Of Your Work!
I have been to way too many artist websites where there are less than 5 images posted. That’s not good enough. It doesn’t convince anyone that you’re actually actively making new work, or that you’re taking it very seriously.
There should be organized collections of your work on your website, displaying better than average photos of your art. Smartphones take great images these days – make it happen.
Send 10 to Get 1
This is just where hustle comes in. You can’t send one submission out to a gallery or contest in a medium other than what you work in and consider that a valiant attempt at making your art pop off. This is about outreach and doing the digital legwork. After you’ve found outlets that are looking for art like yours, make sure you hit up 10 of them with personalized emails that speak to that organization’s history, ethos, curation, etc.
Be personable and specific. If it feels like you hastily sent the submission out at 230am with typos, you haven’t done yourself any favors. Send 10 submissions and see what happens. At a 10% conversion rate, you should have one interested outlet! If not, send more.
All in all, I’d give this advice to any artist that is serious about their work. Also, this shouldn’t be a bullet point, but it’s worth mentioning – people like working with people they like. No one is saying to fake it or not be yourself, but the reality is that building relationships with people through goodwill and a positive attitude can’t be understated. Being agreeable, flexible, responsive, and kind goes a long way.
Tighten up how you handle the things above and I’m confident you’ll find a gallery, art organization or editorial art outlet that loves what you’re doing.