Monday, 21 January 2013

Gallery Do's and Don'ts by David Hayashida

Despite a snow storm we had a good showing at the first ever Member Mixer at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador where I spoke about the SOFA Chicago 2012 show and event.  Executive Director of Craft Council, Anne Manual had on hand David Hayashida's tip sheet that he put together after the ACTS 2012.  In case you are interested, I am printing it below.

As a reminder, don't forget this Friday the Boxed In exhibit opens at The Rooms, Provincial Art Gallery this Friday…I'll be sharing my view in the next blog.

A sauce boat and to catch the sauce drips - a saucer!  Guess we know the origin of the word saucer now.  Both by King's Point Pottery.

Gallery Do’s and Don’ts from Gallery @ ACTS 2012, Halifax, NS Canada.
Author: David Hayashida of

Here are the points that made the most impact on me from the truly amazing opportunity to hear 4 American and 3 Canadian fine craft galleries talk about the gallery and the fine craft artist.

Top 10 Do’s
1.) Do think monumental in scale! In the USA most galleries want bigger work because it can be more lucrative! After all millionaire buyers do not live in small houses.
2.) Do get it in writing - have a written contract with the gallery. Who is responsible for what and especially if things go wrong . . . i.e. damaged goods, discounted sales, payment percentage, how long it will stay in the gallery,…
3.) Do invest in the highest quality professional images of your work. Each gallery has their own standards but 300 dpi 5” x 7” is a good minimum to start with. And have all the details of size, materials, dates…attached. (Never send large file images to galleries unless requested.)
4.) Do ask other artists how they feel about that particular gallery. Do they pay on time, are they easy to work with…
5.) Do attend gallery shows and SOFA if that is what you are aiming for. Nothing replaces seeing and experiencing first hand how the game really works. Only the most ambitious world class artists will succeed.
6.) Do look outside of your medium for inspiration. Galleries are always looking for the next big thing that is totally new and different.
7.) Do name drop. Buyers love the connections to other world class individuals. ie… this work is inspired by Picasso’s blue period.., Van Gogh’s sunflowers.., Einstein’s theory...
8.) Do be consistent and dependable. Is your work consistently improving in quality? Does your work arrive on time? Are you in for the long haul…“in it to win it”?
9.) Do consider preparing a short promotion/teaser card with some print information that of course includes a gorgeous image of your work for the prospective gallery to consider. Also have hard copies and of course a disc with a full presentation package available for the interview. Have an updated cv, artist’s statement, bio, images…Be ready to sell yourself!
10.) Develop a strategic plan for your fine craft career. Then make a work back schedule to create measurable milestones to achieve your goal.  Things like competitions, special projects, group shows should all be on there.

Top 10 Don’ts
1.) Never (ever) approach a gallery to consider you as a new artist during an opening or other major event! Galleries are only selling machines at these events and not about buying. (And isn’t that what you’d want from a gallery.)
2.) Keep your ego in check. Galleries are looking for a long term, friendly and uncomplicated relationship with their artists. Remember they have hundreds of other helpful talented artists to choose from.
3.)  Don’t assume those fragile stickers will make any difference with the shippers. You must become a world class double box perfect packing expert. Tips: use green painters’ tape over bubble wrap, hand cut foam cushions, minimum of 2” between boxes, provide images of the work on the outside, images of how to unpack/pack your work inside, images of how to install/display…(Think Murphy’s Law here for sure.)
4.) Don’t expect a simple email inquiry to trigger a reply. Some galleries have a policy of only responding to phone inquiries. Find out what their policy is on reviewing new artists and tailor your professional artist’s package accordingly.(Are they even considering any new artists at this time?)
5.) If your work too closely mirrors that of the existing artists at a gallery...don’t expect they will automatically want more of exactly the same. Covering the same artistic territory can cause unwanted ego conflict among gallery artists and does not increase overall sales for the gallery. Consider other like minded but less similar galleries.
6.) Don’t assume you will suddenly make more money selling through a gallery (in the short term). You will be responsible for the cost of perfect packaging & shipping to the gallery, the gallery will of course take their percentage, some galleries may charge a display fee, you may have to travel to the openings, some artists will be asked to share any collector discounts,…and remember commercial galleries price the work to sell; they don’t want to display work without sales.
7.) Don’t show old work. They are not interested in how you got there. The galleries want to see only the artists most current, innovative & visionary world class work. Your work is either better than the hundreds of other talented artists from around the world who have applied or not. Getting a referral from an artist they already work with can be very effective.
8.) Don’t think solo show for your first experience. Most galleries initially think group or themed shows with solo shows typically reserved for only the best of the best of their proven artists.
9.) Don’t be shy in either the work or your promotion of it. Initially it’s totally your responsibility to get the message out there and allow the public to discover you are a star.
10.) Don’t give up. Remember most galleries will not be the right fit for you but there is a good match out there if you are persistent.
A fine teapot, salt and soda fired by King's Point Pottery.

Best of luck to all the fine craft artists seeking gallery representation!
(Any comments on this article would be most welcome.)

Special thanks to everyone associated with the Gallery@ACTS project especially the visiting galleries: Rick Synderman of the Snyderman Works Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Barbara Silverberg of Option Art (Montreal, QC), Jo Anne Cooper of Mobilia Gallery (Cambridge, MA), Scott Ashley of the Perimeter Gallery Inc (Chicago, IL), Christian Bernard Singer of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery (Waterloo, Ontario), Victor Armendariz of the Ann Nathan Gallery (Chicago, IL) and Cheryl Fraser of the Zilberschmuck Art Jewellery Gallery (Toronto, Ontario).
Author: David Hayashida of

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