An Artist’s Agent: On Seeking Representation

By Carolyn Edlund

Q & A on Breaking into the Art Market

 

A reader named Marcus recently posted a comment on this blog to an article titled “Interview with Artist’s Agent Samantha Levin”. Samantha followed up with a message that I felt was so on-point and instructive, I’m posting it here as an article in itself.

See if you find common ground with Marcus. I give him credit for reaching out, and applaud Samantha for her frank and detailed response – which is good advice for any emerging artist looking for representation today. The comments are published in their original form.

Question:

hi samatha, my name is marcus and I have been drawing for 5 yrs now and have approx 40 drawings completed. my work is linear graphic by design. i am now ready to market my work but need someone to look at it, if u can’,t could u please recommend some artists resources for new artists? thank u very much! all my work is copyrighted if that helps.

Samantha’s Answer:

Samantha Levin

Samantha Levin

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for asking this! I don’t have time (doesn’t matter that your art is copyrighted), but will try to point you in the right direction.

Don’t approach a gallery or agent yet!

One of the most important things you need to do before approaching anyone for representation is to look at the art world as a whole and determine where you think your work might fit in. If you need guidance on this, it’s best to approach receptive people for help. Galleries and agents aren’t usually receptive.

Who IS receptive? The best places to approach are artist networks online, blogs like this one (there is a ton of good advice tucked away in this blog!!!), meetup groups in your area, art classes (they expand your knowledge of the arts and also introduce you to your local peers) and whatever else you can find. If you can’t find anything in your area, organize it yourself.

You should find people who you can bounce ideas off of, discuss the art business with (not complain about it, but explore it) and help guide each other. You should stick to people who like your art because those are the people who will be able to guide you in the right direction. If you’re totally socially inept (like I was a few years ago), then get the internet and social networking working for you.

Some good reads: Edward Winkelman, a gallerist and art dealer, occasionally gives advice to artists on his blog. Here’s a good post. Also, read Collecting Contemporary by Adam Lindemann. It’s written as a guide to collectors, but gives a great picture of the art world as a whole.

By being social online or off you’ll meet people who are connected to galleries, agents, brokers, etc who your art will work with. You’ll find matchmakers, so to speak.

Before you go near a gallery, you should ask yourself “Do I want to work with this gallery/agent/curator? What do they do, how do they do it and what is their reputation?” If you don’t like what they do, then move on. If you find a gallery you like and have visited them if you can, then you should take a look at their submission guidelines and follow them carefully (find out if they even accept submissions).

Most galleries absolutely do not have the time to respond to requests from artists and no artist should expect them to do so. A gallery’s job is to sell and track the artwork of the artists they represent, and take care of their most trusted collectors. Neglecting those duties will kill their gallery. Many of them get approached by artists so often that responding to all of them with advice would starve their resources!!! You need to find advisers who are geared to help you.

You did good by starting on ArtsyShark!!

Visit Samantha Levin's blog Anagnorisis for more on her business representing artists in New York City.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! I just found your blog. I can’t wait to read more. What I’ve read so far has been very interesting, well written, and helpful. Hope there’s a book in your future.

    So far, I’ve been doing the outdoor art fair curcuit. I live in Indiana. I also have work in a few galleries dotted across the midwest. Gallery sales have been been a mixed bag, a few sales, but also expensive losses through damage. Also not being informed my work had sold, until a gallery went under; which resulted in no payment, and loss of work.

    I’m trying to learn the tight rope walk of reaching beyond my surrounding market, in wise ways.

    They say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. I will pay careful attention to what you have to teach. Thanks again.

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