Since we launched The Road Gallery in January 2014, we have received hundreds of submissions. Every day, we review new entries to the gallery. This advice is based on real-life experiences and anecdotes of actual submissions. While every gallery is different and will have its own nuanced requirements for submissions, following these principles will help you improve the quality of your entry and the chances of success.
Do your homework. Before preparing your submission, take time to read about the gallery and look at current and past artists represented by the gallery. Think about whether your work will fit with the gallery in terms of style and quality and then be rigorously realistic with yourself. For example, a contemporary gallery with a bias towards abstraction, minimalism, surrealism, pop-art or abstract-expressionism is unlikely to take traditional, still life pieces.
Follow the submission guidelines. This may sound obvious but we receive numerous incomplete submissions – no bio, no artist statement and even submissions with no artwork. Check you have sent everything requested by the gallery and follow the guidelines to the letter.
More isn’t always more. Submitting more examples than requested or writing pages and pages about yourself and your point of view is more likely to turn the curator or review panel against you rather than endearing you to them. Galleries constantly receive submissions and will be reluctant to wade through reams of information.
Be clear. We have received submissions that make us scratch our heads and are frankly unfathomable. We looked over one submission recently and despite numerous attempts we could not work out what the individual was actually submitting. Our best guess is that it was a philosophy of teaching design. As for your artist statement, there is a fine line between provocative, thoughtful and engaging and confusing, pretentious or incomprehensible. Have a number of people review your statement before finalizing it. Include those who know about art and those who are uninitiated.
Make it easy for the gallery. If the gallery accepts online links to artwork, make sure you send the right link and do send an actual link. We’ve received page long instructions of where to find the particular pieces the individual wanted us to review rather than a link.
Think about your written introduction. We receive submissions all the time that just include a link to a website – no salutations, no introduction, no note, no hello, no message; nothing! If you can’t take the time to prepare a personal yet professional and engaging introduction, why should the gallery take the time to review your work? Your introduction is a way of starting to establish a connection between you and the gallery. It matters. Say a little bit about yourself, your work, your career and why you are submitting. Demonstrate you have taken the time to look at the gallery and mention what appeals to you about it. One paragraph is enough, don’t go overboard.
Be responsive. If the gallery replies to your submission, be responsive. We’ve had numerous experiences of reaching out to artists to follow up on submissions and heard nothing back or received a reply three weeks later. This is one of our biggest frustrations.
It’s not just about the artwork. Sure, the number one criteria in evaluating a submission is the artwork itself….but there is more to it. When we are making final decisions about artists, their personality and professionalism is a factor. We have turned down artists who show up as obnoxious, difficult, intransigent or rude. Think about how you are presenting yourself, the impression you are making and be open to feedback. The art world is well networked and word gets around so be mindful about the reputation you are creating for yourself.
Be patient. We admire tenacity but don’t bombard the gallery with multiple follow up emails or calls asking about your submission. That approach is unlikely to work in your favor and risks turning the gallery off you. They’ll get back to you if they are interested.
Good luck and if you are interested in submitting your work to The Road Gallery (now you have all the insider tips), find out how here.