Top 10 Ways that Galleries Find Artists

By Carolyn Edlund

Puzzled as to how to connect with galleries? It doesn’t have to be a mystery. A survey of gallery owners reveals the best ways to connect and be found.


Gallery at Capitol Arts Network


A classic guest post on the Artsy Shark blog is Rhonda Schaller’s excellent “Selling Your Work in New York Galleries/An Insider’s Story” where she discusses how (and how NOT) to connect with galleries and present your work for their consideration.

It’s a long article, full of great advice and wisdom – and if you read deep into the comments, you will find that Rhonda Schaller shares a Top 10 list compiled by Heather Bhandari, who runs Mixed Greens Gallery and attorney Jonathan Melber, who practices art law. They are the authors of the book ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career, which has been called “sure to be required reading at art schools” by NY Art Beat.

Together with gallerist Jen Bekman, they polled over 100 gallerists and art dealers in New York City, and list the top ten ways gallerists find artists:

1.  Artist Recommendations
2.  Curator Recommendations
3.  Solo or Group shows
4.  Art Fair
5.  Slide registry or flat files
6.  Submissions/Open calls
7.  Other recommendations
8.  Social event
9.  Open Studio
10. Juried show

Throw out the unsolicited requests, cold-call gallery visits, and moaning about how you will never have a chance to even speak with a gallerist. What have you done to make yourself be seen and known?

Notice the participatory nature of this list. Networking, meeting the right people, going to events. Gallery owner and popular arts blogger Edward Winkleman says “you must get in the game.”

This list gives you plenty to think about, and planning to do. Who do you need to know? What events, registries, and fairs do you need to participate in? Get involved, and you will hear about opportunities, be seen, and become known to others who may offer referrals, recommendations – and perhaps even the gallery relationship you are seeking.


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  1. wow…that’s a very interesting list…great to know!! so maybe deciding what galleries you want to get into…going to all their events, talking with the artists there, getting to know the gallery and artists more intimately is the best way to go!!

  2. Nice article Carolyn, but what would you suggest for a handicapped person who cannot get around. Painting is my life, I refuse to give it up just because I can not walk. I use to do shows, but now its not possible.

  3. Bonita, I would suggest that you start where you are.

    Everyone has limitations – whether they are time constraints, physical handicaps, living in a remote location, etc.

    What on this list can you do? You may not be able to travel to shows, but can you get listed in directories, join in online communities, network with other artists who can share opportunities? Check out this interview with Destry Sparks, who had five solo shows in one year through contacts he made on Facebook. Here’s how he did it:

    • Dear Bonita,
      When I read your post I was immediately reminded of a listing that I had seen specifically for artists with disabilities. I couldn’t remember the information so I did an online search for “Opportunities for Artists with Disabilities”…and many pages appeared!

      You clearly are not alone in your concern. There seems to be a community of artists with disabilities, as well as a network of organizations and administration to assist in the creation, display, marketing of works, as well as providing opportunites to connect.

      I encourage you to reach out, research and take full advantage of available resources! Opportunities exist, more so for those who are willing!

      Best Wishes!

  4. Hi Carolyn,

    I don’t paint but I love drawing, sketching and doodling. As your expert point of view how do you think I fair? How can I advertise my skills better online? Thank you so much for your time

    Best Regards,

    • Joan, I appreciate your comment, but it’s impossible to know anything about your prospects given your statement. If you do not have a complete portfolio of work in a compelling, signature style which is distinctive, then I’d suggest you keep working in the studio to develop that first.

  5. I’ve submitted to several art galleries but they keep knocking me down, saying my art is not the type of art there looking for and I mainly draw so what do I do if no one is giving me a chance or doesn’t like my art? Someone help me out here please.

  6. Hi Nicole,
    You’ll see that “cold call submissions to galleries” is not on the list for the top 10 ways that galleries select work. Check out that list–do you have a network of artist friends who know and respect your work, that could recommend it? Curators? Consider joining an art association which has member shows–when you’re in an exhibit then invite galleries, curators, artist friends, etc. to see your work on display (this has worked for me).

    If you decide to continue submitting your portfolio to galleries without introduction or recommendation, do some homework to find out who is showing (and selling!) work similar to yours. When a gallery says that they do not display the sort of art work you are making, realize that there must be some galleries that do display your style.

    It’s a big subject, but I did want to respond to your post. Try the search feature on ArtsyShark and maybe you’ll find more information to set you on your way.

    Best Wishes!

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