Submitting Art to Galleries: A Step-by-Step Guide
When an artist decides to step out of their comfort zone and share their art with the world, it marks a significant moment in their career. This journey, filled with anticipation and hope, begins with the brave decision to move artwork from the privacy of a studio to the public eye of exhibitions. This act alone places the artist leagues ahead of many who choose to keep their artistic endeavors private, tucked away in closets or personal galleries.
The process of submitting artwork to exhibitions is not just about showcasing talent; it’s a journey of self-discovery, learning, and embracing vulnerability. Every step, from selecting artworks to receiving confirmation of submission, is a learning curve that enriches the artist’s experience.
The first step in this journey is selecting the right pieces to submit. If the exhibition has a theme, the artist must immerse themselves in understanding and interpreting this theme, ensuring their chosen artworks align perfectly. This alignment is not just about adhering to guidelines; it’s about resonating with the theme’s essence, potentially increasing the artwork’s impact and relevance to the exhibition.
Artists often face a dilemma: should they submit a cohesive series or diverse works? This decision can be strategic. Exhibitions often limit submissions to three to five pieces, so each chosen work needs to carry its weight. A cohesive series tells a story, showing depth and focus in a particular area. On the other hand, diverse works showcase the artist’s versatility and range. The choice depends on the message the artist wants to convey and the nature of the exhibition.
In juried exhibitions, understanding the jurors’ preferences is crucial. These professionals, with their unique tastes and perspectives, have the power to either select or reject submitted works. An artist’s research into the jurors’ backgrounds, past selections, and artistic inclinations can greatly influence the choice of submitted artwork.
The challenge in digital submissions lies in capturing the essence of a physical piece in a digital format. This is particularly true for non-photographic works, where texture, scale, and depth need to be conveyed through a flat image. High-quality photographs are non-negotiable, as they are the only medium through which the jury can appreciate the work.
Many artists choose to invest in professional photography services to ensure their artwork is depicted in the best light. Such photographs should accurately represent colors, textures, and the overall feel of the artwork. Lighting, background, and angle play critical roles in how the artwork is perceived. A well-taken photograph can bridge the gap between the physical artwork and its digital representation, giving the jury a near-authentic experience. Following the technical specifications for images is vital. These specifications, often detailed in the submission guidelines, include aspects like image size, resolution, and format. Ignoring these can lead to a range of issues – from files being too large to upload, to poor quality images that fail to impress the jury.
Every call for work comes with a set of instructions that must be followed meticulously. These may include how to format the submission, what details to include, and how to present the information. Errors in following these instructions can lead to disqualification or technical issues, negating all the effort put into preparing the submission.
Maintaining a professional dossier – a digital collection of frequently requested information and documents about the artist and their work – can be a timesaver. This ready-to-use repository ensures that all necessary information is at hand, streamlining the submission process.
Before finalizing the submission, an artist must undertake a meticulous review process. This stage is as critical as the creation of the artwork itself, as it can significantly influence the acceptance of the submission. Here, attention to detail is key, and the artist transforms from a creator into a meticulous editor of their own work.
The first aspect of the review is to scour the submission for typographical errors. These errors, though seemingly minor, can convey a lack of professionalism or attention to detail. They can potentially distract the juror from the quality of the artwork. Artists need to proofread not just the artwork titles or descriptions but also their personal information and artist statement. This diligence ensures that the submission is not only accurate but also presents the artist in the best possible light.
Another vital aspect is verifying the completeness of the information. This includes checking if all the fields in the submission form are filled, and all necessary documents are attached. It’s not uncommon for artists to overlook a key piece of information, such as the medium or dimensions of the artwork. Incomplete submissions can lead to automatic disqualification or delays in processing.
In the digital submission process, ensuring that files are in the correct format and properly uploaded is critical. Artists must check that their images meet the specified resolution and size requirements and are in the accepted file formats (such as JPEG or PNG). They should also ensure that the files are named appropriately, as specified by the submission guidelines. Artists often preview the uploaded files to confirm that they appear as intended, without any corruption or formatting issues.
This final review isn’t just about checking for mistakes; it’s about taking a holistic look at the submission. The artist needs to assess whether the overall submission – from the artwork to the written content – cohesively represents their vision and meets the exhibition’s criteria. This step is about ensuring that the submission is not just free of errors but is the best possible representation of the artist’s work.
While the concept of submission fees can be off-putting to some artists, understanding their purpose is important. These fees often cover the operational costs of the exhibition, such as venue rental, promotional materials, and staffing. They are not a guarantee of acceptance but an investment into the potential exhibition of the artwork.
For artists, especially those early in their careers, budgeting for submission fees is a practical consideration. Planning for these expenses as part of the exhibition process is essential. Some artists allocate a portion of their art sales or set aside a budget for these fees, seeing them as an integral part of their artistic journey.
Once the submission is complete, receiving confirmation from the gallery is a critical step. This confirmation, whether in the form of an email or a copy of the submission, assures the artist that their work has been successfully entered for consideration. If such confirmation is not received within a reasonable timeframe, following up with the gallery is advisable.
Post-submission, the artist enters a period of waiting. This time can be used to reflect on the process, plan for future submissions, or simply continue creating. Regardless of the outcome – acceptance or rejection – the experience gained is valuable. For every rejection, there are lessons learned, and for every acceptance, a celebration of success.
The process of submitting artwork to exhibitions is more than just a procedural task; it’s a journey of growth, self-expression, and professional development. Each step, from carefully selecting artworks to patiently awaiting the outcome, contributes to the artist’s journey. Whether it leads to an exhibition or a learning experience, the act of submitting artwork is a bold statement of an artist’s commitment to their craft and their willingness to share their vision with the world.