The 3 best ways to make sure you don’t get gallery representation

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With the art fairs in Miami kicking off tonight, I am sure you are feeling a lot of pressure to present your work to galleries and collectors with the goal of getting representation and sales. As stressful as these situations can be, there are definitely better and worse ways to approach them. Below I list three behaviors that are best avoided.

Have a transactional attitude

I see a big difference between artists who are comfortable spending time on building relationships versus those who view everything they do as a transaction. The former are almost always more successful in the long run. In everything we do, we are dealing with other humans: gallery owners, collectors and fellow artists. Building a strong network over time is your most important asset. For example, many artists have gotten gallery representation through an intro from a fellow artist. This applies to collectors too: nurture your existing supporters instead of ignoring them after a sale. They may buy more of your work or recommend you to their friends.

Blanket bomb galleries with emails

Unfortunately there are still artists out there who think it is smart to send pushy emails to galleries and advisory firms demanding that they review their portfolio, and if they don’t get a reply (surprise, surprise) follow up with even more pushy emails. There is nothing wrong with emailing a gallery, particularly if you have a contact at the gallery, but please be polite. Being pushy not only reek of desperation but is also a sure-fire way to get future correspondence deleted as soon as your emails hit the gallery’s inbox.

Act entitled or arrogant

Sometimes when we are a little bit insecure or uncomfortable in a situation, we try to overcompensate by being arrogant. This is without a doubt the best way to mess up a potential sale or gallery contract. Don’t get me wrong, being assertive and looking after your own interests is a really good thing. That said, you are not entitled to a gallery contract nor is a gallery obliged to review your work. As talented as you are, you are competing with a multitude of other talented artists and generally speaking, being easy to work with goes a long way.