Getting a gallery show – perspective from an arts manager

There are a lot of posts by artists on the internet about getting into galleries – and I have many friends who are artists that ask me the same question – “How do you select artists for a solo or group exhibition in your/ a gallery?”

Truth be told there really is no straight-forward “formula”. I usually tell artists to approach people they know in galleries if they’re friends with them, or to just approach galleries directly even without an agent or curator in the middle – ESPECIALLY without an agent in the middle. In Bangkok at least, agents are not as common or a norm (yet). In fact, many seem aggressive or pushy with their artists. That’s not the Thai way, or Asian way in fact. And there’s usually more ‘excitement’ involved than need be. 

Anyway, gallery owners or managers are not going to bite your head off if you walk-in unannounced asking for a gallery show. In fact, it’s quite common. The main problem is not only approaching galleries for a show with your work (although I understand that can be quite intimidating for new artists), the main challenge is in being noticed. There’s no formula in standing out as well. Artists can stand out by saying “ground-breaking” or shocking things – yes we will remember you for your radical ideas, but that does not necessarily get you a show. That just makes a good story to share. 

Be prepared and keep trying! It will be worth the trouble.Show works that you believe in and that represent who you are. Show you care. Show you understand this is also a business and you are willing to cooperate. Show that you have chosen this gallery specifically because you believe your style of works and profile will suit our gallery’s mission. Show that you have researched. If rejected, don’t become explosive or abusive – it’s a part of life. Develop yourself and your works and come back. Some might reject you for trying too hard, others will respect your efforts. That way, you will also know who you click with and want to work with. And most importantly, keep in mind nothing is straight-forward. Gallery representation does not only rest on being talented or creative, there are various facets involved in this business for a variety of reasons. 

 

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