Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plein Air Convention 2014 - day 1 - What do Galleries Look for?

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Oil on linen on board

I got up early to paint out on Fisherman's Wharf on Monday morning.   The sun was barely peaking up behind the fishing warehouses and this black fishing boat really caught my eye.  It was a relaxing way to start off the day and I got to talk to some of the participants walking by as well.

After painting I spent the day before the actual start of the convention in the Gallery Discussion Panel and Umbrella Group Meetings on Plein Air Events:

The first panel comprised of Gallery Owners addressed the topic; Using A Gallery as a Pathway to Success...and what galleries look for?   The Gallery Owners represented on this panel were Jonathan Mountainsong from Mountainsong Galleries, Jane Bell Meyer owner of Illume Gallery of Fine Art, and Shaun Horne; both artist and owner of Oh Be Joyful Galleries.
This is what I took away from the discussion:
  • It's imperative to figure out what level I'm on as an artist?   Do extensive research to figure out which galleries to approach.  As an example, Mountainsong only represent Signature members of AIS and OPA.  Action - Who can I ask to assess my level?
  • Be respectful, gracious and persistent in approaching a gallery.  Every gallery has their own preference in how they want to be approached.    Personal referrals by other artists represented by the gallery make a difference. 
  • Be sure to follow, like or friend the gallery on FB.  It's a good way to get on their radar, (especially if you can friend, since they would then get updates on your work).
  • When preparing to present your artwork make sure your website looks great.  The gallery can learn a lot from visiting it.   How consistent and how recent is your body of work?  Do you update events?  A rolling - 12 months - In the News is great.   Prices are important - If your work slowly goes up in value (10%/yr), that's helpful.  Do you have awards and a statement that stands out? 
  • All three gallery owners had no objections to artists selling their own work.  Self-representations is critical at a certain stage of your career and then you have to figure out if you are willing to give up a % of your sales for the services a gallery provides.  The one thing that is imperative is that your prices are consistent in all markets.
  • Shaun mentioned that it's easier representing a newer artist who has great quality work, and is not already in 17 galleries.
  • Mountainsong has a partnership with Amazon to sell art online...something to look into.
  • All in All - Art needs to be your big focus.  Get experience, do Plein Air Events and Art Fairs.  Awards bring credentials, take great workshops with top-notch instructors - but ultimately find your own direction so that you are unique!

What followed this session was one of highlights of the Convention for me; the Panels on Putting together a Plein Air Event.

I will share more about that in my next post!

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