Promoting Your Work: Get Your Photography on the Gallery Wall | Jennifer Schwartz | Skillshare

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Promoting Your Work: Get Your Photography on the Gallery Wall

teacher avatar Jennifer Schwartz

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Trailer for the 10-Course Series, Crusade For Your Art

    • 2. Course 6: Getting Your Work on the Gallery Wall

    • 3. Types of Galleries

    • 4. Gallery Relationships

    • 5. How to Submit Your Work to a Gallery

    • 6. Creating Promotional Materials

    • 7. Class Project

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About This Class

Jennifer Schwartz's 10-part series on best practices for fine art photographers gives you the tools to take your fine art photography career by the reins and thoughtfully and purposefully develop a plan to get you where you want to go.  Learn how to tighten your work, develop your brand, identify goals and a plan for your photography, and strategically launch your project. Check out all the courses here.

In this sixth of ten courses, you will learn everything you need to know about getting your work shown in a gallery. From the different types of galleries, to determining which gallery is the right fit for you, to submitting to a gallery and creating the best marketing materials, you will learn all about the photographer-gallery relationship. For your class project, you will design a promo piece that you can use to send to a prospective gallery.

Meet Your Teacher

Jennifer Schwartz is the creator/director of Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization focused on cultivating demand for art, specifically fine art photography. Jennifer owned a fine art photography gallery in Atlanta (Jennifer Schwartz Gallery) for five years, showcasing the work of emerging photographers. She also created the online project, The Ten, and is the co-creator of Flash Powder Projects.

Jennifer regularly participates in portfolio reviews such as PhotoNOLA, PhotoLucida, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, FotoFest, Medium, Filter and others. She was invited as a curator to the Lishui Photo Festival in Lishui, China in 2011 and travels around the country giving talks, guest-lecturing at universities, leading workshops and hosting photographic retreats with Flash Powder P... See full profile

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1. Trailer for the 10-Course Series, Crusade For Your Art: Hi. I'm Jennifer Schwartz on the creator and executive director of Crusade for Art, a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate, inspire and empower photographers to connect new audiences. Start I owned a commercial fine art photography gallery in Atlanta for five years, and I'm working with the photographers both with the gallery and with a nonprofit realize there is really a lack of information out there about how to navigate the fine art photography world. And it can seem pretty intimidating. Trying to figure out how to approach a gallery, how people get their books published. How museum collections acquire where So I wrote this book called Her Savory Our best practices for fine art Photographers. And this 10 core skill share series is gonna roughly follow the form out of the book. And it will talk about basically the ace ese to navigating the fine art photography world. How to edit in sequence your work, how to write an artist statement, how to cement work to a gallery, how to prepare for a portfolio review, how the price, your work, really everything. So I hope that you will join me and have fun and appreciate for your art. Thanks 2. Course 6: Getting Your Work on the Gallery Wall: in this course will be talking all about the gallery. So most photographers, at some point in their career, are interested in having the work shown on a gallery wall and in this course will talk about the different types of galleries, which might be a good fit for showing your work. We'll talk about how Teoh approach those galleries with the different types of ongoing relationships you could have with the gallery, and we'll show examples of promotional materials. That would be a great way to get your work in front of a gallery that you're interested in exhibiting with. For the class project, you'll have a chance to create or design a promo material. So whether it's a postcard or a packet, this is your chance. Teoh. Create something that you could actually use and sent to a gallery to get noticed. 3. Types of Galleries: Most photographers would like to show their work in a gallery, and there are a lot of different types of galleries that could or could not be a good fit for your work. So the first step is really figuring out what type of gallery is the best fit to show your work. Now most people are familiar with a commercial photography gallery or just a commercial art gallery in general, and that's a regular gallery where you walk in there trying to sell, work off the walls a lot of times in a commercial gallery, they have quite a bit of overhead to pay, and they need to be really careful about the type of work that they're showing. So I like to say that commercial galleries in a lot of cases like to show a lot of rainbows and unicorns, which means really salable work, work that they can put on their walls, and they can have a good amount of confidence that someone, uh, collector or someone walking off the street would walk in. Look at it, love it. Wanna hang it over their bed and buy it so you need the first question you need to think about is, Is your work commercially salable? Are you photographing rainbows and unicorns or you photographing something that's a lot more challenging? Teoh either look at or to live with. It doesn't mean that there isn't a ton of value and more challenging work, and it doesn't mean that there aren't collectors who would want to purchase it. You just need to figure out what type of work you're making, who your target audience is, and whether or not you think a traditional commercial gallery is most likely to want to show it on their walls or represent you. Another type of gallery would be a non commercial gallery or a nonprofit space or center. Think about a photography. You're an arts organization that might have a gallery space associated with it, a regional small museum or a university gallery. These types of places aren't relying solely on the sale of work to pay for their overhead, so they might be a little bit more interested in showing work that isn't just beautiful. Uh, that might be a little bit more challenging that has a social issue or is more for photo, journalistic or documentary again, it doesn't mean that a commercial gallery isn't gonna show this type of work. It just means that if your work is a little bit more challenging than a non commercial gallery, my, uh, be a better option for you, at least in the beginning, until you start building your audience in your collector base. Another idea for a gallery would be an artist run gallery or cooperative space. So there are a lot of photography groups or arts groups, organizations made up of artists who all work together to support and run a gallery. They tend to be membership based where, if you're invited to join or you approach them to join, you either pay a certain amount of money to be a member or you volunteer a certain amount of hours of time in terms of manning the gallery, helping run and hang exhibitions. And in exchange, you become one of the featured artists who's worked at this gallery shows It's a really interesting model, and it's a great opportunity to not only get your work on gallery walls, but to be part of a really great community of artists who can offer feedback a lot of times . Thes types of galleries also do interesting programming lectures, critiques. So it's definitely a fantastic option for a photographer to be involved with. The final type of gallery would be a pop up gallery, so something that's really short lived. Maybe only one night one day, one month. Um, it's a place that or a gallery that doesn't have its own physical space. 24 7 Another example of this is an apartment gallery. There are a lot of city Chicago, San Francisco, New York, where apartment galleries, a really popular, says Someone decides that one night a month they are gonna open their apartment, Teoh to show artists work and these types of places and the same with pop up spaces. They can be a lot more risky in terms of the type of work that they're showing, because they're not relying on the income from sales at all to pay for the Rhett. And so these types of galleries and exhibitions tend to be, ah, lot edgier and show a lot more experimental type works of. That's the type of work that you make. It may be well worth your time to look into, see if there's some pop up spaces or some apartment galleries in your area that would be interested in showing your work 4. Gallery Relationships: There are three major ways to get your work shown in a gallery. The first and the one with the least commitment from either side is to be part of a group exhibition. So there are a couple of different ways that a group exhibition could happen. The gallery owner or director could curate a group exhibition just from known artists. So a gallery director or curators might know of your work, approach you and say We want to do an exhibition with such and such theme, and we're interested in showing a couple of your pieces from this body of work. Another would be that they would just dio on open call or juried competition. Now this could happen. Either of these types of things could happen. A group show can happen at a commercial gallery or non commercial gallery. But you might read about a call for entry that saying We're looking for photographs with this type of theme, and this is the juror that we're selecting. Who will choose which images will be included in the exhibition? A lot of times thes open calls for entry have a fee associated with them, so the gallery is using that fee to cover the administrative cost. Teoh pay for the juror to give them an honorarium for selecting the work and possibly also as a way to generate income for their gallery. So you may choose to enter that type of competition, and if your work is selected, you would ship your work to the gallery. They would have it for the duration of the exhibition, and then they would return it to you if it was unsold. Um, sometimes in a situation where your work is in a group show or if the gallery director or curator just knows of your work, they may decide. Teoh keep it at the gallery for a little bit longer than just the duration of this show. So a gallery could approach you or you could approach gallery. And they could say, I'm interested in this work. I think that it could be a good fit for a gallery. Long term. We're going Teoh ask you to send a few pieces, maybe a few framed pieces and also some prints to put in the flat files, and we're gonna exhibit it either in an actual exhibition or just in a back room and pull in some of our collectors and see what kind of response they have to it. So that's a great It's a really great opportunity. It means that this gallery is potentially interested in representing you, but they wanna have a real sense of what the market might be for your work before making any type of commitment. This could also happen as a result of being in a group show where there was a lot of interest in the pieces that you sent to maybe some sold and or some didn't. But there was interest in the gallery wants to keep your pieces for longer than the duration of the show to see if they can make some sales happen after the show comes down. When you send your work to a gallery in any situation, you definitely wanna have a consignment agreement. Typically, the gallery will send a consignment agreement to you, and it just talks about which pieces you'll have at the gallery and how long the pieces plan to be there. What the commission split will be if the pieces air sold and how soon after the sale you will be expected to be paid by the gallery. A typical commission split is 50%. So if you send your piece to the gallery and it costs $1000 it gets sold, the gallery will pay you $500 we'll keep $500. And a typical duration of, um, getting paid should be 30 to 60 days now. The final way you could have a relationship with a gallery is on ongoing, longer term relationship where the gallery would represent you. This is a bigger commitment on both sides. It means that the gallery is committing Teoh, typically for a certain amount of time, maybe a year to start. But the gallery is saying that we will regularly have work of yours in our space. We will show your work at least such and such times here. Maybe one time of year. You might give you a solo show every other year, Um, and that they're actively working on an ongoing basis. Teoh, introduce your work to collectors and to sell it. If the gallery that you're working with goes toe art fairs, then that means that they will most likely take your work to an art fair. Maybe not every time or every year, but on a semi regular basis to introduce it to even more collectors outside of their local collector base. So representation is can be a wonderful thing for a photographer because it gets your work in front of more people than you have access to yourself. The gallery already has certain relationships, and they're bringing those relationships to you on the other side. The commitment you have to that gallery is if you're represented by a gallery, you shouldn't be selling your work privately anymore. Which means if you're selling your work for $1000 you sell it from again Hillary, you're making $500. They're making $500 this is whether the gallery represents you or whether they're just having a single image of yours in a group show and sending it right back if it doesn't sell . If you enter into a representation agreement with a gallery, if someone approaches you directly whether they saw your work from the gallery or they are your next door neighbor, you shouldn't be selling the work directly to them, meaning they say, I'd love this piece. You say I love to sell it to you. It's $1000 you keep $1000 if you have a representation agreement with the gallery. And so mind your next door neighbor wants toe by a photograph of yours for $1000 you refer them to your gallery and the sale goes through the gallery. That's sort of the The gallery is doing a lot of work for you. This is what you're doing for them in return, your also usually committing Teoh, continuing with your with your photographic process and continuing to, um, ad work to your existing project and create new bodies of work going forward. So there's a lot of ways that you can show your work on a gallery wall, and typically one way, the beginning leads to the end. So most of the time a gallery isn't gonna walk right up to you and say, We love your work and we'd like to represent you. Unless, of course, you already have other gallery representation, so you have a track record of sales and collectors. But if you're just starting out usually the way Teoh get your foot in the door with the gallery is too have a piece or two in a show and hope that that garners enough attention from the galleries Collectors Teoh want the gallery to enter into a more significant relationship with you going forward. 5. How to Submit Your Work to a Gallery: If a gallery isn't having an open call for a specific exhibition, you might be wondering how you could get the attention of a gallery. How do you submit your work to a gallery for them to consider for an exhibition or for representation? So the first, very first thing I would say is to look online? Most galleries clearly list their submission policy. And to me, when I owned a gallery, that was sort of the first line of defense. So I wanted to see if someone put enough effort into really looked through the website, see the types of artists we represented, the types of exhibitions that we put on and read the submission policy and could follow those directions. Um, not that it was really a test, but I wanted to work with artists who were professional and thorough and would would really be thoughtful about how they presented themselves to me. So take a look at the submission policy a lot of times, Gallery said, they're not actively, um, accepting Submissions are looking for new work at the moment, and that's OK, so it doesn't mean that you can't still reach out to that gallery and start some sort of, ah, communication with, um so always, always the best thing to do would be to get a personal introduction. Um, if whether they are submitted their accepting new orders or not. It's always nice to have someone that the gallery trusts introduced the work to them, as opposed to a blind submission where you send a CD in the mail we spoke about in previous lessons figuring out who your advocates are. So people that know you know your work, our fans are supporters of yours. It's always helpful to reach out to your advocates and think and ask them who they might know that you're trying to reach. So you're advocates and your current collectors can help you reach your targets. That there's a specific gallery you have in mind. Ask around. Ask the people that already support you if they have any connections or ties to that gallery, and if they would be willing to make a personal introduction for you in lieu of a personal introduction, you can send a blind submission to a gallery. If the galleries local, it is always wonderful to be able to sit down face to face and be able to show your work to the gallery director or owner curator. Now, you don't want to just walk in with your portfolio without an appointment, because that is not showing that you respect the galleries. Time Um, galleries are very busy, and they don't usually have time to sit down with someone who just walks in with a portfolio. But you can call ahead, make an appointment if you're traveling and there's a gallery in the city where you're traveling to, you could call her email and say, I'm coming through. Your city has been a long time fan of the gallery of the artist that you represent that shows that you put on. And if you have 10 minutes, I would love to be able to sit with you and show you my work and hopefully see if there could be a fit, Um, or if we could build a relationship for something down the road. Most galleries will be open to that. You might not be sitting with the gallery director, but it's always really, really great to get your face in front of them. Teoh. Show them that you're a professional and personable, and that your work is really strong. Another thing that you could dio would be Teoh send a promo piece and kind of regularly reach out in a personal way to the gallery. So a postcard is a wonderful way. Teoh, just make an introduction for yourself. Um, a photo on the friends, A written note on the back. You can also send in a great packet that might give a little bit more information about who you are as an artist. The type of work you make, what your project is about, something that's really beautiful and well presented can make a fantastic impression for a gallery and whether or not they're looking for new work or not, you consent in that packet, and then maybe in a few months he could send a postcard with a hand written note. Or, if you have a show coming up, you can send them a show postcard saying this is an exhibition that I have coming up that I wanted you to know about. Um, you could send them an announcement about ah, specific a war that you received, or any type of honor that or recognition that your work has gotten and that way. Your name is becoming familiar to the gallery. And when they do have a situation where they're curating a show and they might think of you or when you do come into town, you could make a phone call because your name is already familiar to them and they might be more willing. Teoh. See you. 6. Creating Promotional Materials: So I want to show you a couple of examples of promo materials that are fantastic and a great great attention getters for a gallery. This first piece that I'm gonna show you is absolutely gorgeous. It's from a photographer named Heather Oven Smith, and she does absolutely beautiful work. And she has the best branding of anyone I've ever worked with. She has a new body of work called Seen, not heard. And this is the piece that she sent out. It's a large envelope. This is actually stitched on. And when you see the work, you will see why that's a great a great fit on the back. She has a personal lies seal with the name of the project that I'm gonna open right now. Um, this is a promo packet that she sends out to some galleries that she already has had a little bit of a contact with. So not necessarily the first line of the first outreach, but people that she has been introduced to and wants to make a further impression on. So you can see this envelope pull it out and it's several different pages. So this first page is an info sheet. Essentially, that talks about the work and the types of UM, prices. She has and kind of gives the gallery all of the information sort of at a glance that they might want to know about the project. And then, as you move through their other pieces, that she has actual photographs that she selected five that are representative of the Siri's and they're beautiful prints there on the paper that she would use for exhibition. It really gives the gallery a sense of the variety of images and the strength of the project. The next thing I'm going to show you is a postcard that was sent to me by a photographer, who again I have a relationship with. But this is a postcard that could be used in a lot of different situation. So that's hand printed you comptel, and it's just a single image on the front. And then on the back she's written a note that just filling me in on some new things that she's doing. I actually I'm a huge fan of this work, and I have purchased a piece from her before. So really smart way Teoh keep in touch with a collector. This is a brand new image that I haven't seen before. Picked my interest because I already love her work. And so, of course, now I'm interested in this one as well. It's really, really great way Teoh. A postcard is a great way to show a new image. Communicate with people who know your work as well as people that you want to get to know your work. This last piece is, um, is actual stationary. There was a novel, an outer envelope that had her same logo and branding carried throughout the same color patterns. When you opened this to try Fold. This is a photographer, Liz Ehrenberg, and you can see that she's written a note, and on the back is an image she's included. Uh, this is part bolivar contact information, as well as three prints that go with this body of work. So this is a great little packet to have altogether and again. These are all really beautiful over the top examples, but definitely, definitely attention getters and things that that I want to keep. I don't want to throw these out and sew gallery would as well. I have folders and folders of materials that I that are sent to me, that I keep that I may not have a place to use them right at the time that I received them . But when I am looking for work, that's the first place I go is back through those folders to to see what stuck out in the past and hopefully be able to use the work from it. On the flip side, what you don't want to do is create a negative impression. So when I had my gallery, my submission policy was to send, uh, actual CD. Don't send me une male with a link to your website. I want it. I want you to send in a CD of images now. I don't mean I didn't mean just a CD of images. My biggest pet. He would be to get a cardboard mailer in the mouth with unmarked CD floating in it. So not even as a sleeve or a letter or any sort of note associated with that usually had a Sharpie marker on the front saying art or something like that, and I would open the cardboard mailer. The city would roll across my desk, and I think I don't want to put this in my computer. And if that's the first impression that you're giving to a gallery, what does that say about about you and your work? You know, what kind of frames are you going to be sending your work in? What types of prints are you? You know, if you don't care about sort of having a professional in polished first impression, how would it? It doesn't really bode well in terms of how it would be to work with you on an ongoing basis. So where is your promotional material? Might not be. Ah, slick and fancy as any of thes. You want to make sure that you set the right tone for your work and the relationship that you hope to have with the gallery going forward. 7. Class Project: Now it's time for the class project. This is a really practical project because you will be designing the promo material that you want to send to a gallery. So whether it's a postcard like I showed you with an image on the front and some information on the back replaced, too right or a packet where you talk a little bit more in depth about your work, your pricing and give some example images, or whether you're putting together a letter to send to a gallery with a CD of images, this is your chance to do it and to get some feedback from your classmates. So take a little bit of time. Think about what your signature image or images are. Think about the information you want. Include definitely your contact information. Maybe a sentence or two were full artist statement about the project. And if you're including a longer letter, make sure that you really address the gallery and why you think your work is the right fit to be shown there