Whenever I do a grad school visit, the question I’m most often asked is “How do I get a gallery?” It’s never “Oh! How are you Mr. Grossmalerman?” or “ Would you like to feel how soft my freshly washed hair is?” No! It’s always “How do I get a gallery?” So, by this anecdotal evidence I’m simply going to have to assume that this question weighs heavily on the minds of the young artist. I mean, I suppose you do have to ask yourself “What good is an artist without a gallery?” Not much!
In fact, if you’re reading this and happen to be one of the few artists still without any kind of representation perhaps it’s time to pause for a moment and think about why that is. What is it you’re doing wrong and why are you even bothering? Does the world really need another artist? There seem to be a fair number already at work. Maybe the fact that no one wants to show your work is a sign? Have you considered that? I mean, do you really need it spelled out for you!? Jesus! What the fuck is wrong with you anyway?
In any case, for those of you who insist on going ahead with this charade I applaud your stick-to-it-ness and have gone to the trouble of preparing a short list of suggestions to help you get the gallery of your dreams. Well, if not the gallery of your dreams then at least a gallery to refer to when whining to your friends.
Firstly, and I can’t stress this strongly enough, choose an art gallery and not, say … a restaurant or a custom body shop. You’ll find it makes a world of difference that the proprietor is able to concentrate on pushing your work and isn’t also concerned with preparing delicious appetizers or struggling to sell undercoating. Also, avoid showing your work in a hospital because even if a patient likes your stuff they stand a good chance of dying before they get a chance to buy it or even tell anyone about it. Also, never show your work to old people for the same reason. Plus, they smell weird. So, now we’ve established that you need a gallery that specializes in art. Perhaps a gallery with nice white walls and frosted glass doors if you care to be picky.
Once you’ve chosen your dream gallery how do you plan on getting their attention? Are you going to simply wait for them to notice your work in some awful little group show? Are you going to hope against hope that you are introduced to them at a gallery opening? I should fucking hope not! It’s important to make a unique impression. Just think for a moment how many other desperate young artists are out there trying to get noticed. From all over the world! Even China! Shaking hands and taking numbers. Those people are unstoppable! No! You need to choose a technique that is both clear and direct. Memorable but not weird. Unfortunately, as I’m writing this nothing comes to mind so, I guess you’re kind of your own on that one. Sorry.
So, now you’ve enticed your dream gallery into coming over for a studio visit. Well aren’t you just the lucky ducky! But don’t start designing your solo show invitations just yet. Maybe they’re just coming by for the free steak dinner with all the fixings. Wait, what?! You haven’t prepared dinner! Oh my God! You’re fucked! Throw something together! Even a lasagna will suffice. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that you’ve got that out of the way have you checked the bulb in your slide projector? Sometimes those things just sit there for months between uses and aren’t as bright as they could be when you finally really need them. And speaking of slide projectors, make sure you’re using nice thin cardboard slides and not the thick glass or plastic ones. Those glass ones always jam the carrousel and that’s the last thing you need right in the middle of a studio visit. Especially if you don’t even have dinner to offer them. Just remember, it will all be okay so long as you keep the red wine coming. The general rule is three bottles for the studio visitor. That’s been the rule ever since I can remember. A visiting gallerist will sometimes claim they don’t drink or aren’t “in the mood” but just keep offering. It may seem awkward at first but sooner or later they’ll break and drink their requisite three bottles.
Well, how did that go? What? Congratulations! You now have a gallery!! Don’t thank me, it was all you. Well … okay … if you insist. You’re welcome.