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January 2009

How do I submit work to a gallery for view?

This is part two of a four part series by Don Friedlich, Harriete Estel Berman and Andy Cooperman for artists and crafts people about submitting work to galleries and retail establishments. Originally published on Etsy's Storque. CLICK HERE to read the entire series.

After your research to find a gallery appropriate for your work (as described by Don Friedlich in PART 1 ) now it is time to contact the gallery with images of your work.

First look on-line at the gallery’s web site for information on how artists should submit images and material for review. Check the web site thoroughly: often this information is buried deep in the web site since this is not information commonly accessed by the public.

If you don’t see this information on the web site, call or email the gallery directly.  Introduce yourself and ask about their procedures for artist review and application. Don’t be surprised if they say that they aren’t taking on any new artists: the gallery world is limited and selective.

If you are invited to submit material, follow the gallery’s submission guidelines EXACTLY including the number, size and type of images. Some galleries prefer a package sent through the mail; others may prefer email submissions or a link to your web site.

Most importantly, submit only fantastic images. Gallery owners and managers may reasonably assume that the quality of the photographic documentation that you submit is representative of the quality of your work.  While this assumption may not be true, visual images play a critical role and their quality and appearance do influence the gallery’s assessment of your work. 

Do not send images with distractions in the background.  I would suggest a background of white or a graduated grey.  Brightly colored backgrounds are fine for websites (e.g. Etsy) but rarely used in the “gallery world.”  

I took some photos of my own work to illustrate what I mean by low quality photography.
BadIMG_BraceletWThe first image ( left) has a distracting background and a hot spot where the flash is bouncing or sunlight is glaring.

BadIMG_earringsWThe next photo (right) has many problems. The colored background with embroidered beads is distracting. Wrinkled fabric in never a good photo backdrop.The earrings are off to one side with too much empty space within the frame. The images is slightly                                          out of focus.

Here are a few suggestions for top quality images:

•    Avoid an unbalanced image, such as the subject off to one side.
•    Avoid too much empty space in your image – fill the frame.
•    Correct lighting and exposure is essential.
•    Do not use heavily textured fabric or paper, wrinkled or draped material, dramatic or contrived backgrounds such as sunsets, landscapes, pebbles or exotic patterns. 

YOUR IMAGE PACKAGE should look creative and professional.  Unless the gallery specifies differently, include the following in your image package:

•    Cover Letter - stating briefly why your work is appropriate for that particular gallery or retail establishment. If you have visited the gallery, say so in the letter. Make it clear that your decision to approach this particular gallery is based on your research into the work they represent.
•    Resume  - one or two pages
•    Artist Statement - one or two short paragraphs (short, entertaining and relevant about your work). Pique their interest in your work with interesting content, and make it relevant to the gallery and their audience. 
•    Images of your work - burned on a CD or sent by email.
o    Send jpg (for easy viewing) if sending the images by email.
o    Send both jpg and tif 300 dpi (or higher for print quality), if you are sending a CD. 
•    SASE Envelope (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) if you want your materials returned.
•    Image description sheet should include the following information for every image.
o    Title of work
o    Date of work
o    Artist’s name
o    Brief description of materials
o    Dimensions (height x width x depth)
o    Photo Credit of the photographer

Contact Sheet (Page of thumbnail images and key information)   SampleCONTACTsheetHANDOUT
A contact sheet is rarely requested but if you are sending a CD in the mail, I think this adds a lot to your image package. This way the gallery or store can quickly glance at your images without even putting the CD in their computer. This quick and easy access to your images was an advantage that slides offered that has been lost with digital media.

Make sure that the titles for the images include your last name and the title of the work (or at least part of the title).Example for my images:   BermanH_IDneck.jpg 

Place all your materials in an interesting, colorful, professional envelope styled to be consistent with you work and the gallery. Your key to success is hard work, originality, and persistence.

Good luck.

Harriete Estel Berman


I never make any money, how do you stay motivated year after year?

Dear Harriete,

MichellePajakReynolds
Lily Necklace by Michelle Pajak-Reynolds

As I prepare my yearly records for my accountant, the expenses vs income $$'s are always lopsided.  While I'm very frugal, I spend WAY more than what comes back. I hope it's not too personal a question to ask, but have your $$'s ever turned out this way as well.  Sometimes I feel like my art habit is pulling too much out of my household income.  While it's really only a small percentage of our total, it's still a several thousand each year. How do you stay motivated year after year?

 

Signed,
Worried about negative cash flow

Dear At a Loss,

 

You've really hit on a couple of fundamental issues.  One, Can I make a living out of my art?  And two, How do I stay motivated?  Many, if not all, artists have been confronted by these issues. 

Let's separate these topics because I think of them as entirely different. In this post I will address the money issue and the importance of using Short Term and Long Term Goals for your professional development and motivation. Then, continue with a few suggestion to stay motivated and inspired about your work.

IS MONEY MOTIVATION FOR CREATING
Personally, I have never made much money from my artwork despite the fact that  I do more every year to generate income.  To make ends meet, I have a part time job (leading exercise) and do silver repair work.  I give lectures, workshops and speak at schools and conferences.  Each year a couple of major pieces do sell and some smaller items sell more often.  The art sales alone are not enough to cover my expenses, sometimes close but not enough.

Harriete and emiko sorting for future use r

 

Making a living from your art. The reality for most artists and craftspeople is that they need additional sources of income outside of their artwork to pay the rent and support themselves. To put it bluntly, don't give up your day job. 

This may not be the answer you wanted to hear, but making a living from art is not a practical motivator. It is irregular and outside of your control. 

Revenue from my work is not my sole source of motivation. Really it is only a small part of the big picture.

So how can an artist/maker stay motivated? First and most important, you need to decide your Goals for Success,  then break this down into Short Term and Long Term Goals.

Be honest with yourself? Is making a living from your work your most important goal? Then your production methods need to align with this goal along with the type of items you produce.

I am more motivated by making the best, original, innovative work that I can and  finding exhibition opportunities. Displaying my work in great exhibitions, included in books and magazines, and purchased for museum collections are my goals. As an artist, I work at aligning my work methods, and designs toward these goals. 

 

WRITE DOWN YOUR SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM GOALS
Seek your validation from you short and long term goals. Examples include:

  • producing one AMAZING piece per year
  • producing smaller or less involved work that costs less
  • having your work published in books and magazines,
  • having your work included in shows,
  • learning how to update your own web site, 
  • developing your Photoshop skills,
  • participating in a show,
  • organizing a show of your fellow artists,
  • making new opportunities for yourself and others (like a Critique Group),
  • generating money,
  • generating sales.

PARTICIPATE IN A Critigue by  Downloading Critique Group Guidelines Final 2011
This is very important. Use the Critique Group to:

  • Stimulate your work,
  • Create deadlines for yourself to get work done for the next Critique Group
  • Give and receive honest feedback. 
  • Meet monthly to motivate each other.
  • Potentially, the group can create group show opportunities. 

Vague and gratuitous compliments serve no purpose here. Be clear and on target. An "I like it" or "that is interesting" is not useful. Be specific about what works visually and what doesn't. Give a detailed interpretation and identify what elements caused or triggered your perception.  Draw on your knowledge of each artist's objectives and target your comments toward their objectives. Are the fabrication techniques aligned with their goals.  Focus on constructive criticism.  Avoid talking about children, dogs, cats, and personal problems.

A link to my Critique Group Guidelines is provided here.  I recommend that a group have between three and ten people to maintain a core group familiar with the work, previous progress and the short and long term goals of each member. 

DIG DEEP, BE UNIQUE
For me the path to success is to make the best, most interesting, deep, esoteric, off the beaten path, unique,  "_________(fill in the blank here)" in the whole world. It has to reflect your inner core, your passion, your inner being, your singular artistic voice, and a personal vocabulary of fabrication methods that you have developed over time. The more unique, the more unusual the work, the more likely you will reach your goals. Copycat designs will quickly hit the "glass ceiling" of the art and craft world.

Write down the goals for your work, and then study your approach to design and production. Are your work methods, approach to production, promotion, networking, and dedicated focus all aligned like the stars? Are you working in a straight line?  Your goals for your art or craft may be different than mine.

Your goals for your art or craft may be different than mine, the most important thing to realize is the you will never reach your goals if you aren't clear and honest with yourself.

Harriete Estel Berman

 

 

 


How do I promote my work in a slow economy?

Harriete,
I was wondering if you had any ideas about how to get increase visibility and possibly retail purchases with the current economy.    I am exploring ALL of my options.
Exploring

Dear Exploring ALL your options,
There are many Internet sites that offer visibility of your work for both the arts and crafts community and could expose your work to new audiences.

During these slow times I am investing in "Research and Development" with my work and on-line networking. Recently, I heard an interview on Charlie Rose discuss the approach of the famous CEO of Intel,  Andy Grove. His approach during slow downs in the economy is Research and Development and investing in his company preparing for the upturn in the economy. While his business background does not apply to the arts directly, his attitude is one we can embrace.

A slow down in the economy is not the time to take a vacation or lay around getting extra rest.  We need to experiment in the studio, develop new ideas and designs. Invest your time in an amazing one of a kind or limited production item that you may not have had time to create when you were swamped with orders.

I have been posting multiple images of older work on 2.0  network sites just to show my work to aFlowerWht 72 larger audience that may not have seen it before or may not be familiar with my work. I consider all of the Internet options like Facebook, Flickr, Crafthaus and Etsy as opportunities for exposure for the future.

Now is the time to work on finding new visibility. Enter a few shows or submit your amazing new pieces to a book or magazine. Try networking on Flickr, Facebook, Crafthaus, or start your own blog.  All of these actions can be done for free. Post images on these sites. Let people know about all the great work you've made in the past that they may have never seen. I have met people by networking on line that I have never met at a conference. One more important reason to participate on these sites is that they will link to your web site. 

Do you have a web site? I think a web site is an absolute requirement for artists these days. It establishes your credibility and helps people find you or find out more about your work. You could have just one or two pages with information and links to other sites, but a professional web site is a must.  Note, I said, "professional." The web site should match your personal aesthetic and style.  A D.I.Y. web site or a template will look like a cookie cutter impression. Invest in a modest but unique web site style which can develop in the future with additional pages and more information.

Personally, I am working on posting more information on my web site, such as my video and my slide lectures (as PowerPoint presentations). SlideShare is a new site where you can post PowerPoint lectures for free. What a great way to introduce your work to new people.

Pds_logoletterhead The Professional Development Seminar on May 20, 2009 at the next SNAG Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will have an amazing program about websites and 2.0 for the first two hours. The second half of the program is about the future of galleries in the 21st century. Don't miss this valuable information. It only costs $10 if you pre-register. 

Hope this information is helpful and inspiring. Do you have ideas that you would like to add?
Share them with others as a comment -- or email me directly or find me on Facebook.

Harriete Estel Berman





Is Your Studio Interesting?

Have you considered creating interest in your artwork by making your studio interesting?

Drillsabstract72 Your studio can be a "magnet" for extra publicity. The creative space of the artist, crafts person, writer or musician has mythical interest to the lay person. They want to see where the magic happens. It is a very popular myth that being a creative person in any media is "fun" and inspiring.  They want to share in the joy of creativity. 

Your creative studio space can promote your work in a whole new light.  Highlight the persona of the artist. The fact that you make your work by hand, from concept to the finished product distinguishes your work from the mass produced items at the mall.

Fix up your studio. This doesn't mean make it entirely neat, tidy and perfect. I mean give it  "character" and the personality of the artist. Make your studio look like no other place on earth. Display your sources of inspiration; share images from your sketch book or the objects that inspire new ideas and forms. If you have no wall space, hang inspirations from the ceiling, decorate your tables and chairs (even if you found them on the street for free).  Embellish, paint, create.  Make your creative space reflect and express your aesthetic and the artist's voice.

Whenever I am feeling uninspired about my artwork, I take a break and put some time into enhancing my studio space, just adding a little more here or there.  Sometimes it is my "warm-up" to get me working in the studio on more important pieces....and believe me, my studio can be cold since there is no heat.

My recent additions to the studio over the last two years include:

SHELVES2Buying junky games for a few cents at yard sales and resale
shops and using the box for storage. It looks a lot more interesting than plain brown cardboard, don't you think?

LINE of Irons72 My iron collection is always on display. A domestic iron is my hallmark, my maker's mark, so this is a fitting symbol in my studio.  I never pay much, usually only a few dollars at most.To see a larger picture of my iron collection visit my studio on my web site. 

ViseTABLEbetter I have decorated some of the tables in my studio with tin cans. Since tin cans are my raw material this is a natural choice for me. Choose the colors, patterns, media, or materials to decorate your studio that reflect your personal aesthetic. If you work with paper, cover your tables with paper; if you paint, why not paint the tables and chairs?  

There is a recent article in Metalsmith Magazine about my studio. If you don't subscribe to Metalsmith Magazine find a copy at a bookstore, your local library (ask them to buy a subscription), or purchase it online. Though this article is about visiting the studio of artist Harriete Estel Berman, the lesson is to think about how you can make your own space interesting and marketable.

After that, think about what publications might be interested in an article about your studio. There are tons of possibilities from your local newspapers to the newspapers near a store that sells your work. Don't think about just magazines like Metalsmith, that's just one idea.  Think about all the publications that are possibly suitable for the content or images in your work.

Next step, prepare a package of images to send to the magazine or newspaper or blog that fits your work. Write a unique angle about your "creative spaces" or your chosen media. Send the same packet to the gallery or store that sells your work. They can send this information to their local newspaper to boost sales and visibility for your work and the gallery or store.

Artists and craftspeople need to approach developing opportunities for their work as creatively as they think about the objects, paintings, and sculptures they produce. 

Learn to use the creativity of the artist in many ways.

Harriete Estel Berman 


What do I include in a package of images for a publication?

To submit your artwork or craft work to a magazine, newspaper or any publication there are some really important considerations and components to include in your envelope.

The first consideration is to go on-line to see if the publication has any guidelines for submitting materials. Check the web site thoroughly because Submission Guidelines are sometimes buried deep since this is not commonly accessed information.

Follow their Submission Guidelines EXACTLY including the items they request and the size for the digital images. Many times they will actually dictate dimensions for the images (either in inches and/or pixels) and the DPI (dots per inch). Generally, print images are 300 dpi, but some publications are asking for a higher DPI to assure a superior print quality.

Unless they specify differently, include the following in the image package:

  • Cover Letter - stating briefly why your work is relevant to the publication.
  • Resume  - one or two pages
  • Artist Statement - one or two short paragraphs (short, entertaining and relevant to the publication AND your work). Pique their interest in your work with interesting content. 
  • Images of your work - burned on a CD
    • Send both jpg (for easy viewing) and
    • TIFF 300 dpi (or higher) for print quality
  • Image description sheet for each image suitable as a photo caption.
    • Title of work
    • Date of work
    • Brief description of materials
    • Dimensions (height x width x depth)
    • Photo Credit of the photographer
    • Possibly some information about the work
  • Page of thumbnail images and key information (a "Contact Sheet").

BermanContactSheetSAMPLE72 A contact sheet is rarely requested but I think that it adds a lot to your image package.

To the left is a sample Contact Sheet. Each image has a title for the image and a brief description next to it.

Creating this contact sheet of images is very easy in Photoshop.

STEP 1. Put all the images you are burning on the CD in one folder.
STEP 2. Open Photoshop.
STEP 3. CLICK on  FILE,  scroll down.
STEP 4. CLICK  on AUTOMATE.
STEP 5. CLICK on CONTACT SHEET
Step 6. Photoshop will ask you to BROWSE and select the folder where you have the images in your computer for the CONTACT SHEET.
Step 7. Click OK, Photoshop will automatically create the Contact Sheet.

It is a little more time consuming to have information next to all your images (as in the example).

Make sure that the titles for the images include your last name and the title of the work  (or at least part of the title).

Finally, put your materials in an interesting, eye-catching or colorful envelope with a beautifully, handwritten address. Your image package should look creative and professional.

Harriete