How To Present Work To A Gallerist

- - Gallery

Reader Question:

“I am wanting to show some work to a great gallery in [Redacted] to see about doing an exhibit. I don’t know the first thing about how to present this to the gallerist. I have a good relationship with him and have talked about photography and bought works from him. I just want to avoid the pitfalls when I ask him to look at this new body of work.”

I contacted Laura Pressley, Executive Director at Center. They put on Review Santa Fe, which is well attended by gallerists, book publishers and photographers showing them work. Here’s her answer:

I would recommend bringing about 20 images in a portfolio box, same size paper, same process, consistent output, of a fully or nearly resolved cohesive body of work. Work that is tightly edited, intelligently sequenced and grounded by a well written project statement would be ideal.

Also, ask for advice, perhaps regarding next steps for the work, or sequencing and presentation preferences, which then engages and connects the viewer to the work.

Lastly, if you have two or more bodies of work then bring one other portfolio to look at in case the first one isn’t the viewers cup of tea.

There Are 7 Comments On This Article.

  1. Great advice!

    Do you have advice for artists who want to get into editorial work? Any advice for approaching photo editors?

    • @Leanne, maybe Rob will answer here or write a post about this (if he hasn’t already), but in the meantime:

      What most people do is mail promos (postcards etc) and/or send email blasts, and when possible, follow up with a phone call and try to get an appt to meet and show your book.

  2. It’s a good idea to send this person a link to the work on your website to see if he/she is interested in the work. Then call to discuss and ask to make an appointment. Best rule of thumb: DO NOT WALK IN THE DOOR with YOUR PORTFOLIO IN HAND EXPECTING IT TO BE SEEN ON THE SPOT!

  3. I’m trying to market a whole cohesive body of work to galleries and publishers, like, right now. BTW, unabashed plug, if you want to see it, it’s on my site and it’s called “Florida House”. At any rate, I approached a few people with extensive show histories about how to do it. One guy, who is pretty well known says that even he cannot expect anyone to look at his work without some sort of way being paved for him, at least at a decent gallery. Considering the expense of mounting a gallery show, the choice of gallery is pretty crucial, like, you want somebody with a good client list, who can sell. He recommended several things.
    1. go to shows at the gallery you like, if possible, make yourself known.
    2. cuddle up with artists whose work you like and see if they will look at your work and recommend you.
    3. submit to portfolio reviews like the Santa Fe Center etc. This is a daunting proposition as it is super hard to even get in those,AND you have tp pay for it. But if you do get in and then have to pay the even bigger fee to actually go, it’s worth it, since if you travelled to NYC or wherever and tried to set up appointments, spend the time and money necessary, you’d drop a bundle there too.
    4. apply for grants and scholarships, like Lucie Foundation, Creative Capital, etc. Even if you don’t get in, at least it gets seen by the people you are trying to reach.
    5. Be born rich, go to Yale and get an MFA.