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  #1  
Old 03-08-2010, 07:01 PM
Wynn Wynn is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Los Angeles & Chicago
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Finding a Gallery & Using An Artist's Agent

I'm living and working as a welded metal sculptor in LA and Chicago. With a growing inventory of work, I'm interested in finding a gallery and (especially in LA with its MANY galleries) at a loss about how to do it and still have time for making art.

What's your advice about finding a gallery that's a good fit?

Does having an agent help? If so, how do you find an agent who is savy, interested, and effective?

Many thanks on both questions!

FYI you can see my work at joanwynn.com
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  #2  
Old 03-08-2010, 10:40 PM
ironman ironman is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Silver City, New Mexico
Posts: 1,603
Re: Finding a Gallery & Using An Artist's Agent

Hi Joan, for starters, I'd ditch the figurative work, you have a better feel for non objective and conceptual work. I love your rowboats.
the first thing to do is to check out the galleries and find ones that show work compatible to yours.
Next, take photos, burn a CD, with the photos and a resume on it.
Go to the galleries, ask if they look at work, drop off a CD and follow up with another visit at a later time.
Last but not least is, don't let rejection get you down. Sometimes, it's not about the work but that the gallery has enough artists at this particular time.
Schmooze the gallery directors.
Jeff
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  #3  
Old 03-18-2010, 05:36 PM
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ahirschman ahirschman is offline
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Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Posts: 475
Re: Finding a Gallery & Using An Artist's Agent

Hi Joan, I'll add a few things to Jeffs post.

A gallery is foremost a business, and they like people that act in a business like manner. So, that said, Dress appropriately, go in and ask if you can schedule a short meeting, but don't walk in with your portfolio. Ask them what a good time would be for them, etc. You can leave your portfolio in the car, and if they ask then you can volunteer to bring it, but you have to let them know that you value their time. Do not interrupt them if they are with a customer or on the telephone.

I have been in lots of galleries when artists walked in from the street, interrupted and pushed their portfolio in front of the gallery director. I can tell you that it would not have mattered if they were the best artists in the world, they would not have been represented by the gallery.

I think that your work is beautiful, interesting and well done and that it will be find its way into galleries (With your help, of course). Since you work with steel, you should also be careful with the presentation and finish. I like rust but only intentional rust, so protect your metal carefully.

I had one gallery director tell me that he did not like rust that was unprotected because he did not want to ruin a carpet or a drapery of any of his clients. After that I always seal rust so that it can't stain customers belongings.

After you make contact with a gallery, make sure to follow up. Get yourself a filing system so that you know when to contact galleries again. Many times they will tell you that they have no room, but they will not tell you "no", so again following up on a regular basis will help. Other galleries set up their season schedules in yearly cycles, so you have to be on their radar to eventually gain representation.

And, like Jeff said, make sure your works fits into the gallery or you are wasting everyones time.

Hope some of this helps.

Lots of luck, and be persistent. Also, if you can, try to network (Find someone that knows a gallery owner or works with a gallery or is in a gallery and likes your work...)

Ari.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2010, 03:45 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 647
Re: Finding a Gallery & Using An Artist's Agent

Lots of artists cherish the fantasy that somehow they'll find an agent who will take the burden of business off their backs, make connections for them with great galleries around the world, put their work in front of collectors, and bring museum curators by the studio in tour busses - and all for a vanishingly small percentage of the vast profits they generate. These are the same artists that find themselves taken in by sharpies who promise riches and fame, get the artist to pay them a stipend, collect money for all the exciting things they're supposedly doing for the artist's career, and end up producing nothing but a big hole in the artist's bank account.

Realistically, there's no honest living to be made for a middleman between artists and galleries - the margins just aren't there. Artists grumble about having to pay 50% of retail to their galleries, and the galleries are hardly getting rich in the current economic environment either - there have been a lot more galleries closing than opening lately. The ones that remain are extremely choosy about the artists they represent, enough so that most artists typically have to approach a hundred or so to get one opportunity to show. So for making 100 sales calls, the agent gets one promise, usually for a distant date, at which sales are by no means assured. How's he going to pay for gas on that?

I think there's a lot more potential for an agent who would arrange private commissions. In that case, there's no third-party gallery involved - any transaction would be arranged between the artist and the commissioning party, with the agent in the middle able to get a cut of the sale immediately. This could be a web-based business, so it wouldn't have the large fixed expenses that burden galleries, more artists could be represented at a time, and the fee charged by the middleman could be smaller than a gallery's cut. The agent would enhance the patron's comfort factor, since he or she wouldn't have the burden of negotiating with a potentially flaky or touchy artist, and would also help the artist in projecting a more business-like image.

While I no longer believe in the "Santa Claus" agents of our dreams, I don't see why this couldn't be a viable operation, even in tough times. It's surprising I haven't seen more agencies structured this way - perhaps others here know of some?

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com

Last edited by Andrew Werby : 03-19-2010 at 03:46 PM. Reason: spacing
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