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  • Writer's pictureDionne White

How to have a healthy Gallery/Artist Relationship

Gallery Relationship and Artist Reception Reflections

by Dionne White

Recently I had the opportunity to join The Art Cellar, a wonderful art gallery in thriving downtown Greenville, SC.  This past Friday was my Artist Opening Reception and was welcomed after much preparation and excitement.  I pause to reflect on the things I have been learning emerging into the professional and very public art world.  

So I just wanted to put my thoughts and reflections into blog form in hopes to help others. These points could be applied to a fixed gallery location agreement or a temporary exhibit where you deal with a curator.

Forgive me but I am going to put this into a numbered sequence of thoughts.

So without further a-due here we go…

1. Establish a good relationship with the gallery owner, curator or gallery representative.

This is probably THE most important point of all. Establishing good relationship helps both you and the gallery, after all they will be the ones representing you and your work when you are absent. Try to practice good communication with the gallery rep or curator. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood or trying to make each guess at what you want/need as well as what they expect or require. So good communication is so important to establishing an honest and credible gallery relationship. Sometimes we simply don’t know or  have because we don’t ask. :) 

2. A two-way mindset

Go into the gallery or exhibit agreement with a two way mindset. Be willing to give as well as willing to receive. That includes your time, knowledge, flexibility, understanding and even constructive criticism. GULP! I know it’s hard to hear but be willing to receive it if it is given with good intentions. One thing is for sure, the longer we are in this life, especially the art life, you learn what to keep and what to let go with thick skin. :) 

Be supportive of the gallery and the artists. Get to know the other artists with an authentic interest and get to know their art. Their art says who they are ;) 

When we support each other then it is a win win situation at helping others persevere in this sometimes very hard field.

There is strength in numbers so we might as well lock arms and join forces. 

3. What do you have to offer?  Give back and Volunteer.

Do you have time to spare? Can you serve in the gallery, be a part of a brainstorm session, advertise or help with events? Brainstorming with fellow creatives is a great way to inspire new ideas and solve problems. No two brains are alike and everyone has different experiences and knowledge to share. 

If the opportunity is available, volunteer to help out in some way. Especially if you can work the floor. This is great for you getting to know the dynamic of the gallery at “non opening, open studio or gallery crawl” times. You will have time to get to know the type of clientele that the gallery attracts and by being present you have the opportunity to meet future collectors. Any time you are present it gives you the opportunity to share your story and inspiration behind your work. These are key moments to building relational “art” capital.  So when you can, Be There and Be Aware. Don’t be like a Car Salesman (sorry car sales peeps) just be present and aware of what the gallery viewers are doing and being drawn to, and who knows, it may be your wall or exhibit! This is your opportunity.

4. Your art is not for everyone

I’ve learned over the years that timing and placement is important to connecting with the right viewers and who will love our art and who decides to collect it to live with it. But I have also learned that our art may not be for everyone no matter what we do and THAT IS OK! 

DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. This simple lesson used to bring a defeated mindset and deter me from pursuing my art. But as I learned that my art isn’t for everyone it helped me focus on those who did love it and realize that I need to keep creating for myself and others. 

There will always be naysayers and critics and some may try to size you up but just LET IT GO! Please don’t sing the Frozen song…LOL!

5. Confidence Counts

Be your number one fan! “YAY ME” Love yourself and love your art!

To tag the last two points I want to stress to BE CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF AND YOUR ART! 

This is your art we are talking about here. Something you have spent hours creating, honing skills, using God given gifts so BE CONFIDENT! Because it shows either way, when we are confident and when we are not. Be yourself, be authentic and be honest. Nobody likes a fake. So remember you are rooting of you! :) 

6. Create a Buzz! 

What you Sow you shall Reap - Create a buzz! If you are on social media (you should be if you are an artist in this day!) Then promote the gallery, other artists, and or your exhibit. Help a friend out and promote the great work they are doing. Whether that is on social media or by word of mouth. Think of your fellow artists/gallery/exhibit agreement as a partnership. Cross marketing and advertising can only bring exposure and better turn outs for all. What you show excitement and confidence about, others will then become curious about. It is contagious. It is a win win situation! Your enthusiasm and generosity will reap just that :) 

7. Show Gratitude (last but NOT least important)

In this busy life it is easy to get selfish in our endeavors but I am challenging you to be appreciative and show gratitude. Even if you are paying for your space, giving of your time or have been honored and asked to exhibit in a show, be kind and show gratitude. We work hard to make the art but it is important to value those who help our art be seen. You can do this both in person, socially by recognizing them in a post or the good old fashion way, write a note! Gratitude goes a long way. 

In Conclusion

I believe that if we follow and apply these points you will have a healthy Gallery/Artist relationship as well as a stable art community experience.  Making your creative journey a happier and hopefully more prosperous one! 

By Dionne White

Contemporary Inspirational Artist

The Art Cellar, Exhibitor 

Greenville, SC

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