How to Get Your Art Into a Gallery

Three Parts:Selecting a galleryGetting your work recognizedGetting your work into a gallery

The best way to get your work into an art gallery––it is all about difference. Here you'll learn how to take effective steps to get your art into a gallery and hopefully launch your career as a professional artist.

Part 1
Selecting a gallery

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    Visit galleries near you and learn which ones show work that coincide with your style. Many galleries are run by a curator with distinct tastes, so play up to that. Research head curators and the work they show, ask yourself "would this person like my art?" Think about your medium, themes, approach, etc.

Part 2
Getting your work recognized

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    Demonstrate how your art differs from other artists' works. This is tricky, as your work may be similar to other work, but it can't be too closely related. Curators are business people, so they won't put all their eggs in one basket.
    • Believe in what you are creating. If it's not better than most of the art that's out right now, you need to focus more or try something very different. (How do you know it's better? You have the absolute conviction that it is.)
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    Go to openings (usually Thursday nights) and network. Sell your enthusiasm and skill. Make them want it at that gallery and let people know you are highly interested in having your work there.
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    Apply for grants. When you apply for grants you expose yourself to artists and curators who are on judging panels. Even if you don't win, the art community sees that you are serious.
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    Avoid vanity opportunities. Do not apply for exhibitions (or grants) that have an entry fee. These "competitions" are usually fundraisers for the organization or gallery and offer very little career advancement or prestige (and, in fact, including such a show on your artist's resume can make people take you less seriously). There are occasional exceptions to this rule (especially in regards to residencies), but for the most part you're best off not paying folks to consider your work. Especially avoid vanity galleries which charge you a fee to be included in a show (or to have a solo show). No legitimate gallery engages in this practice.
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    Start an online gallery. You can invite other local artists, or other artists with similar styles as yourself.
    • Get digital images of your artwork. Once you have digital Images of your work, create a website and get a professional email address.

Part 3
Getting your work into a gallery

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    Email a "letter of inquiry" to the galleries you'd like to show in. Include as many examples of and information about your work as possible. Include a link to your artist web site. Include a short artist statement with your general approach to your creative life as a whole. Many curators like to collect paper documents on artists before they will show their work.
    • Email galleries in every major city you can travel to. Email as many as you can, to get their attention and in turn get them to look at your work.
    • Repeat this as often as every four months, have them even email you to stop until you have some galleys interested and conversing with you.
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    Sign with an artist collective gallery. These galleries normally don't take a cut of your work but require monthly membership fees. Even still, becoming a member can be very competitive, so you will need to present your work and artist statement for acceptance. These collectives usually don't contract you to show exclusively at that gallery.
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    Sign with a gallery. If you get accepted into a gallery, always have a contract. Galleries sell your work for you and take a cut, hence they are an agent, not a buyer. Ensure this cut is clearly specified in the contract. It's usually pretty steep, 20-50%, however, galleries want your work to be expensive because the more you make, the more they make. Thoroughly read any contract you sign, as it may stipulate that you may show and sell work exclusively through that gallery.


  • Don't limit yourself to local galleries, search far and wide for the best fit.
  • When introducing yourself to a gallery, try to book an appointment with the owner or the manager.
  • Persistence pays off, you may want to approach the same gallery several times over a few years. Repeat these steps until you are approached by a gallery that shows interest in your work. If persistent and you have made it this far, it's truly is a matter of time before it happens. There are so many different types and styles of art appreciation, someone will admire your work!
  • Make the paintings before you sell them. If you didn't, you wouldn't have anything to sell.
  • Make business cards, flyers, stickers. Expose yourself when you visit galleries. Self promotion is a huge confidence boost and will provide fantastic networking opportunities.
  • Travel and physically expose yourself to galleries that are in your area. Visit any place that speaks to you when you walk in. Even if it has work from Warhol or Hirst in it, unless you don't feel confident or comfortable enough in there to proudly present your work.
  • If more people see your work, then more people know of your work. Six degrees of separation!
  • Dress, speak, and behave professionally. This is an important aspect of dealing with a business, which is what the art galleries are.


  • Be prepared for rejection. Everyone gets turned down. Keep trying.
  • Watch your budget. Spend as little as possible but progress forward in all subjects presented.

Article Info

Categories: Exhibited Arts