TITLE: Drop-In Art Sales
DATE: 10/06/2004 07:27:00 AM
I recently had lunch with several gallery owners and, usually able to contain my question, I couldn't help but ask... "What do you really think of artists who travel to your gallery, plop their portfolio on your desk, and ask you to review their work?"
It's such a common practice, one would assume that this a real place to start: Look up galleries you like, prepare your portfolio, walk into the gallery, breathe deep, ask politely if they like your work, and (don't forget) ask if they will represent you.
How did the gallery owners respond?
Two agreed that they have bought work from artists who entered the gallery in this fashion. They also agreed that some of these purchases worked out so well that they still carry the artist's work. On the other hand most did not work out.
The third gallery owner disagreed entirely. This is when the nicey-nice gloves came off and the brutally blunt gloves came on.
Entering a gallery and asking for their time in this way is strikingly similar to your receiving a flurry of bothersome telemarketing calls during dinner. Sure, you could listen to the sales schpeal. But what do most of us do when our space is invaded? We shut down and tune out. We don't even take time to consider the message or what it might hold. The same is true for gallery owners whose businesses are magnets for 'art salesman', all wanting 'a moment' of their time.
When it came down to it, all three gallery directors prefered to find work on their own terms, whether at a show, on the internet, through the mail, or via word-of-mouth. They would even consider a postcard they found on the bulletin board in a local healthfood store!
What does this mean for artists that 'drop in' for consideration? Overall they held more respect for artists that respected their time and expertise by emailing or calling to set-up an appointment in advance. One gallery owner pointed out that sometimes setting up this appointment may only result in a 10 minute meeting, but at least they were left with a strong impression of the artist and their professional demeanor. Their time was respected and this meant a lot. In a few instances meetings like this even resulted in building a relationship with the artist where they eventually ordered.
So, if you plan to 'drop in' on a gallery or two this season, please call first and ask for their time. The gallery will appreciate it. You be expected and likely feel welcomed. Oh, and in addition to receiving some candid feedback, you may just make a sale!