joel stuart photography 8:54pm, 6 March 2009
hi everyone,

i thought this would be the best group to ask, so here it is. i want to go around to some local art galleries to show my work for a possible show.

how would you do it? i don't know where to even start. i am curious as to how many prints and of what size or sizes should be represented. how would you show them? should any be framed?

i recently won second prize in a local competition, and think a small local gallery might be interested in my work.

thank you very much for your time.
SteveFE Posted 10 years ago. Edited by SteveFE (member) 10 years ago
Conventional wisdom on framing is the thin black frame/large white or cream matte look, which does draw attention to the photograph very well. On the other hand, many paying punters have no taste and would probably rather see your photo in a rococo gilt old-master sort of frame ;)

I've shown stuff completely unframed, just neatly foamboarded and blu-tacked to a white wall, and sold it exactly as that so that people can frame it as they wish, or not. My preference is to do that, because I know then that people are buying the image itself, not my idea of how they should think it looks. YMMV.
Moonshayde Photography 10 years ago
Get some 8 x 10 prints made at a professional photo printers and have them in a book ~ you can get black zip up books from good stationery shops. Alternatively a nice 'display' book will do.
Only use your 'portfolio' best work or the actual photos you are thinking of having on display.
Get a price list from the printers for larger size prints, possibly for print on canvas also get prices for frames/framing
Once you've arranged a meeting with the gallery take your photo portfolio book and discuss with them how many prints they could display, sizes, frame styles etc.
hope that helps!
Not many galleries would help out with costs of getting your photos printed and framed - they're giving you the space after all.
Use the print and framing costs and your other expenses into account when pricing your photos if you want to sell them through the gallery ~ the gallery will be taking a percentage of sales all of which you need to discuss and get all the details in writing.
Tyson of Habein Studio 10 years ago
agree with steve and moonshayde. I did the framing bit the first go around. won't do it the next time.

see if the gallery can help you with pricing as well. they will know what price point photographic prints will sell at in their venue/your city/market. but don't let anyone tell you to sell things for something that doesn't make you a decent chunk of profit.

when you roll up to show them your stuff, explain who you are/what you do and ask if you can have a few moments of their time to show them some prints.
Fisher_Photographics 10 years ago
I disagree to some extent.
It depends on if you offer true photographic artistry or industry standard.
People looking to but in a gallery are looking for unique prints not just run off the mill ink jet or lab processed photography. They are looking for an artistic print that is brought to then via your own processing, and your own printing. If you are shooting digital then then you may have no other option than that, but with film work you will get a much more unique print and ultimate a higher selling price.

Remember in terms of art buyers they want something that is unique, can you offer them that? In experience larger the better but not too big. A3 size is a good one, obviously changed depending on the aspect ratio.
Bec Thomas Photography 10 years ago
One word "Portfolio". If your going to do gallery walk in, which I think you should make an appointment first BTW, you take in a portfolio. Go do a google search and you'll find lots of info about that. You do not take in framed pieces of art work. If by some chance you find a gallery to take your work, and the refection factor is really high, you should find out what they require in framing. Many go for black gallery frames, but you do run across deviations, some have matbaord requirements also. If you use digital use a professional printer, you can get rejected for self printing if they don't like your set up, ink, paper quality and brands do come into play. You also have to deceided how big your print runs are going to be and you have to stick to that, this is art, I do print runs of no more then 10. It's unlikely that you'll find a gallery that wants anything bigger then 16x20 or smaller then 8x10 since you still are an unknown.
mona chrome 10 years ago
Try not to get ahead of yourself. The first thing is to get a portfolio together. I recommend that you put together a portfolio of prints mounted and matted that look absolutely fantastic. Galleries have too many to choose from to choose someone who is not organized or who does not respect their own work. The size of the prints depends on what you happen to do with your work. I have one set that is never printed above 6x7 inches and another that is routinely 40x50 inches. I haven't walked into a gallery with a cart of those cold! Seriously tho, if you offer larger sizes then 11x14 at a minimum. I used to show mostly 16x20's matted 22x28 as that was the most common size when I was first interviewing with galleries. A selection of 10-15 prints is all you need. If they like them, they will ask if there are more.
amazing answers from all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
thank you all so much for your time!
_barb_ 10 years ago
Galleries may charge a commission on sales. Another option are bars or cafes, here in Melbourne some have regular art displays that they change every now and then. The advantage of that is that they get a lot of exposure.
when it is suggested that i put together photos that are mounted, do you mean mounted to a mat with a plastic sleeve over it?

i recently saw photos at an outdoor art show, and the photographer had a few framed prints on display, but hundreds in sleeves that were matted.

does anyone have a source for a nice inexpensive presentation book? my local stationery store has nothing.

thanks again!
mona chrome 10 years ago
What you need is a portfolio box. Light impressions in Rochester, NY has them if you don't have an art store locally that has them. (many of those in art stores are the light impressions brand)

Mounted and matted means that the prints are mounted, corner mounted mostly these days, and then over matted. Putting them in plastic sleeves really makes no sense for showing to a gallery. Any covering softens the photo and makes it something different than when you see it without obstruction. A stack of prints, in a portfolio box or case is what you want. Some of the cases available for shipping aren't good for putting your work in without some covering. A large plastic bag over the stack will keep the prints clean whereas the portfolio boxes are very "finished" inside and need no such covering.
Bec Thomas Photography 10 years ago
Joel let me ask you a question, do you really want to put your possible future in the hands of strangers? Go do some research, there are lots of sites with information, call the galleries in your area and find out what they are looking for. Asking questions on a forum where you really don't know anyone could just get you screwed over.
mona chrome 10 years ago
bec............i appreciate your comments, but yes, i trust people in this group to offer valid advice. I have never been steered wrong by any group discussion here.
WADR... and I mean that - the art world is a very tightly woven world of idiosyncracies and developmental procedures. In other words, it isn't quite that simple.

When you ask how to do it - from the start, the implication is you have no introduction to the art world at all. No art classes, no gallery interaction, no materials such as the wealth of art books and magazines dealing with art galleries and getting shown.

Most galleries are not interested in unproven artists. If you haven't had a show (or more like a dozen shows) you aren't gallery material. Does that sound like a typical oxymoron? No gallery - no show - no show - no gallery....?

It isn't. There are juried shows, judged shows, community shows, regional shows, municipal shows. There are many places to show your work. And see how it is received. That recognition is what is terribly important for a gallery.

Have you entered - and won - juried shows? That will help a lot. Way more than mounted or unmounted prints. Do you currently have people buying your work? Anywhere?

Have you joined the local artists guild and begun showing there, or at art festivals or with some easels at the park. If so, do you currently sell images? How many?

A gallery is a very expensive undertaking. They would like to know if you can sell your work before they add you to their group. They may take on a piece or two to see how it moves, or where the interest is, but... and this is really something to think about... your work would have to stand out against a ton of other photographers who already know about the gallery world, the art route, the maze of work that goes into it.

They have had shows, magazine acceptance, articles and bios and features. They already know how to approach the galleries because they have spent years - decades in many cases - getting to that point.

Just something to think about.

Visit Jen Bekman's gallery and blog.
See the winners of Hey Hot Shot and notice some similarities in the medium. (Hint: digital is not the medium for galleries... and there is a long list of why that isn't happening yet. You should research it a bit.)

Hey Hot Shot is taking submissions. There is an opportunity to show and see where you end up.

Finding local places to show your work takes legwork and research and lots of dead ends... but artists do it all the time. I have a friend who talked a local bank into showing his work there for two months a year (so he has a show in November and a show in May. Look, dig, and network to find the places to show your work.

Bottom line: if you aren't currently selling work or showing work, you would have to offer a really, really compelling reason for a gallery owner to take a chance on you.

If you have that compelling reason, then the above advice may not be as important as I thought it was when I wrote it down.

mona chrome Posted 10 years ago. Edited by mona chrome (member) 10 years ago
Wiz, there are certainly points in what you say but I can't quite buy it all, at least not universally. First, all galleries are not created equal nor are all "juried" shows.

A local gallery might be interested in work that has never been sold, shown or whatever because the work is good enough for their clientele and they can sell it. A very good gallery is most interested in whether you as an artist are someone who can and will produce work over time. The worst thing for them is to bring you in and support you and then you disappear. That said, there are generally the artists a gallery pushes and promotes with collectors and then the artists they sell to clients who don't have an interest in the artist's they promote (sometimes safer artists or those that can produce a piece that will fit nicely over your couch!!??!!) Even the better galleries work in this way. No, not Castelli, but those that are in the business of selling to both the art and corporate markets.

So, yes, it is a long hard road to decent representation, but it is like anything else, you get in there and start laying the foundation. Along the way, you will probably have shows at coffee shops and have smaller galleries handle your work from time to time. It really isn't all that scary, it is just something like everything else, you put your nose down and get to work.

To the point, it sounds like the gallery in question here is probably open to someone new and he just wants to know how he should approach them--right?

I understand. There could be galleries interested in untested talent. There can be galleries interested in 'discovering' an artist. I am sure they exist. I haven't found them (but I am not looking either).

Your experience with galleries may be much different than mine.

"So, yes, it is a long hard road to decent representation, but it is like anything else, you get in there and start laying the foundation."

Agreed. Asking how to do it on a Flickr forum is a start, but being told to put some images in a box and go 'door-to-door' wouldn't be my advice. Lots to do and set in motion before that undertaking. Lots and lots and lots. Showing up with images with nothing to back them up is not where I would recommend starting the foundation. But it may be from other views a place to start.

But again, like everyone here, I can only speak from personal experience and opinion. If that were to work, I would be neither surprised or disappointed (we are talking art and galleries, after all and that can be a crap shoot sometimes) but most definitely interested.

I do hope the OP takes the advice and crafts a journey with a great outcome.
mona chrome 10 years ago
Wiz, I think it is just the difference in the type of gallery. Just like commercial photography, there are folks that want to be sure you can produce, want to know you and want to see tear sheets and then there is the Mom and Pop place that sees you have a camera and they need some photos, so your it!

You don't get into a major art gallery by walking in and showing a portfolio, although that was exactly what happened with Max Yavno when he got tired of commercial work. But you can walk into that little corner gallery and have them take your work on the spot because they have some wall space and no one to fill it. Some will only want to show their work in the top galleries and that is a longer and harder road and they won't even talk to or consider the local "gallery". I think that is the difference with what you are saying and what the OP is asking.
lauriemarie01 10 years ago
Joel, You really shouldn't put any stock in anything I have to say since I'm just a stranger on an Internet forum but......

I did exactly what you're thinking of doing. I had a nice body of work shot in and around the area where I live (which happens to be a big tourist spot in Florida.) I felt the work was marketable and decided to hit some small local galleries. I put together two groups of work. One group was targeted towards commercial buildings (since many commercial buildings here tend to display artwork that depicts the area). Another group was targeted towards the private buyer.

Having done an externship with a medium sized gallery in college, I based my presentation method on what that gallery owner preferred. I mounted prints on museum board and used a simple overmat. The work was stacked in a nice sturdy black presentation box ( I don't know who made the boxes as they were given to me as a gift years before). The idea behind having the prints mounted this way was the gallery owner could spread them out and view them as a body of work rather than flipping pages in a portfolio binder.

Anyway...this approach worked for me. I managed to get work in three of the four local galleries I approached. Two of them ended up having great sell-thru. I've ended up going in a different direction with my work so I'm not pursuing gallery presentation at this time. However, my one attempt worked for me.

It's a pretty tough economy right now so things might be a bit tough with galleries. Whichever presentation style you choose (and there are several acceptable methods), I recommend you visit the galleries first to see the type of work they display. While it's certainly not always the case, most galleries seem to lean towards specific genres and mediums. Don't waste your time or the gallery owner's time if you aren't a good match.
josh.r 10 years ago
A down economy tends to be a time when unproven—cheaper—products and services have a shot.
All of your suggestions are extremely helpful to me, and I thank you all. Wiz, I am starting to get what this is about.........the time, dedication, persistance,etc.

I am going to contact our local library, which sometimes has exhibitions of local artists, to see if they would be interested in my work.

On a basic level now, how would you present your prints? At this point, I am not talking about galleries, but rather local businesses. A high end gift shop in upstate New York has taken 5 of my framed prints for sale in their shop...............they make their own insence, and my smoke photos tie in beautifully. They simply told me to bring up 5 or 6 after I e-mail them one.................that was easy.

Let's say I was to stop in to some local businesses, like gift shops. Should I bring in some matted 11 x 14's, for example? That is the size that the first shop wanted.

As Wiz said............I want to get a litle experience before I go further.

Thank you ALL so much!!

I have loved photography since the late 60's, starting with a Pentax Spotmatic. I have to say that I have learned more in 2 years on Flickr, than in all of the other years combined.

Thank you
Wizwow.............thank you so much for the links, they are amazing!!

my local library is interested. the program director has no special requirements as far as showing my work goes. how would you present your work to her?

bear in mind, that i am talking about a library now, not a gallery.

thank you so much for your time!
Don Giannatti (aka wizwow) Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Don Giannatti (aka wizwow) (member) 10 years ago
For presentation to someone already interested, or who has given you an appointment, I prefer matted prints in an archival box.

They are displaying in a similar fashion to the presentation on the walls, and are individual images, not part of some kind of book.

I like these:

and these:

and these:

I would throw a couple of pair of white cloth gloves in the case as well. Makes it easy to handle the matted prints without getting fingerprints on the mattes.

Keep all the mattes the same size even though the prints can vary and don't think you have to show every image... LOL. Show 12 - 20 images at a reasonable size. Print your show for the library to the size agreed upon and with the impact on the area you will be showing in.

Good luck and a great start!
mona chrome 10 years ago
It really doesn't matter who you show work to, art work, you want to start creating a quality image. So I think that most of the better things said before apply here as well.

Wiz, thanks for the links. I wasn't aware of these folks and was looking for some large cases.

I have purchased several Lost Luggage portfolios and accessories and their customer service is quite impressive. I had mistakenly ordered horizontal fillers when I ordered a portrait book. They emailed and called to verify that the order was correct.

That was damn cool.
thank you so much wiz!
fabulous links!

when you use premade mattes, how do you mount the photo to the matte? A photographer that I know, use scotch tape on the corners of the back of the prints to secure them to the mattes. Is this an accepted way to do it?

thank you
I recommend an archival tape. Something should be available at any art store. It will not damage the print, and keeps the matte from discoloring. Scotch tape is not recommended.
LoSt CaUsE_26 10 years ago
Unproven doesn't matter one bit. Let people deter you and you will be unproven for the rest of your life. If your work is original and creative then galleries owners will take you in a second. Most gallery owners do not care about your experience if you have amazing art work. I have my art displayed at multiple Edward Jones offices,law offices, Cave Creek and the Denver Metro chamber of commerce, banks,galleries, restaurants, and various commercial buildings. Don't limit yourself to galleries. Get out and market yourself, talk to everyone you can. You will be denied time and time again but eventually something will work out. Don't let people discourage you and keep trying. When putting a portfolio together, use your best work. You don't have to fill it up and have 40 photos. Also, show diversity in your portfolio. As for gallery sizes, it all depends on the gallery and how much space they are giving you. For example, In May I have an one man show and the gallery is giving me the main floor which is 1700 square feet. I am going to have prints ranging from 11x14 to 30x40. For most of what you are asking the gallery will let you know their preferences for size and everything else. Some galleries will charge a percentage and some galleries will charge a hanging fee and percentage. Go to galleries and talk to artists who have their art featured. Also, gallery owners whether they like your work or not will give you advice.
lost.....................thank you for your feedback!!
you are very confident and offer great inspiration to me.

i have to say that i am amazed at how willing all of you are to share your knowledge with others. some of your replies take lots of time to write, and i want everyone to know that i appreciate all of your answers!

does anyone have a source for reasonably priced mattes? i usually make 11 x 14 prints...............for the competition I entered and for the store that took my work as well.

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