How can I market my work when galleries resist?
Speaking about the Professional Guidelines

How can I find a gallery to show my work?

In the previous post, John Jensen wanted to find a gallery that would show his knives.  My first response is to work toward developing your target audience directly.  In his case, it is with the knife collector audience. For each reader, it will be some other select group.  However, if you really want to be on a gallery's radar, then there are several steps you can take.

Option 1. Participate in group shows hosted at a gallery or non-profit exhibition space.
Option 2. Do your research to find galleries that show work within your price range, media, and style.

To pursue Option 1, assuming you really want to have your work included in a gallery show, look for group shows that are occasionally sponsored by galleries or non-profit exhibition spaces nearby. These are usually based on a theme, specific media, or an exhibition of the local arts guild, etc.

You should join as many guilds and art organizations as you can find, both at a local and national level.  Join organizations both within and outside of your specific networks such as the local Arts Guild, SNAG, and ACC (American Craft Council).  Look in their newsletters and publications for possible exhibition opportunities and make work to fit these shows. 

Adapt to a theme.  If the theme of a show is "purple with red spots" then you need to make a knife that is "purple with red spots."  If the theme of the show is political, then make a political knife. If the theme of the show is boxes, then make a box for your knife.

Dagger of the cover of 500 Knives
John Jensen

There can be no holding back with the definition of whether your knife fits a show. Look at the exhibition themes as broadly as possible and think about how your work can fit.

Here is an example: A few years back there was a publication of Exhibition in Print sponsored by SNAG about the senses. Your knife might have fit right in if your photo included touch (in other words,  sharpness of your knives) as an example of the senses.  (I am not recommending cutting yourself with knives here. I am simply suggesting that a knife with a sharp edge could be about the senses especially if your photo and Artist Statement spoke to the theme.)

As I mentioned in the previous post, marketing art and craftwork is not just taking a photograph and PhotoShop-ing the image.  You need to think about how you can find opportunities in unexpected places and develop a following for your work.

Galleries won't do this for you, they will only follow your lead if you have proven that you have an audience that wants to see your knives.

Wishing for new opportunities outside the knife world will not cut it. (pun intended). YOU need to find these opportunities in every way you can. By the way, you should definitely get your own Facebook name if you can and name your image files when you send them out following to previous blog recommendations.

Look at the recent Profesional Guidelines document Working with Digital Images Effectively so that you know how to title your image files properly.

While we are talking about images, I have also noticed that knife makers seem to PhotoShop their images into multiple views combined in one image (sometimes with vibrantly colored backgrounds) such as the images of John Jensen's knives in the previous post. My impression is that this style of image is not appropriate to the gallery context. I would keep your photos for galleries to backgrounds that are white (or graduated white to dark) with one view of your knife per image. Use the Professional Guidelines document Guide to Quality Photographic Images to help evaluate your images for the galleries.

Hope this information helps.


This post was updated on December 23, 2021.