Perhaps you've been sending out cold emails to galleries with little to no response, or maybe you've been dragging your feet on sending your first one because you're unsure of what to write. In this article, I will share the top tips to make your pitch - whether it's to a gallery or to secure another opportunity - stand out from the rest.
I can honestly say that pitching has completely changed the trajectory of my career in the arts. Having the courage to put myself out there, and to do it in a strategic way with pitches, has earned me media features, freelance and full-time work, book deals, brand collaborations, salary increases, interview access to leaders in our industry and much more. With the help of this article, I hope you feel more confident and prepared to pitch your art to a gallery!
Top Tips for How to Pitch Your Art to a Gallery
Identify your desired outcome
This sounds easy, but after having owned a gallery for over four years now and worked in them for over a decade - I can tell you that most artists do not make it clear what they are looking for when they send a proposal.
Have you made the mistake of simply asking a curator to look at your work? While it's great that you're at least using a call to action (many artists skip this altogether!), it's just not strong enough because it doesn't require a follow-up action.
You should instead aim to have them look at your work and _______ (e.g. consider you for an upcoming exhibition, keep you in mind for any future opportunities, decide if you'd be a fit for long-term representation). Be specific! Sending your work to a gallery does not automatically imply that you're seeking representation unless you say so.
Follow the 5-Minute Rule
If you've been a follower of mine or taken a workshop with me previously, you may have heard me talk about my trademark 5-minute rule.
Here's how it works: before you send a pitch to any gallery, writer, business, etc., spend at least five minutes carefully reading through their website and looking through their social media profiles. It's nice too if you have a chance to skim an interview they've done previously. Set a timer if you have to and write down anything you learn that can be used as evidence in your pitch.
Why do this? It is obvious when someone reaches out to you and they don't know anything about you or your business. More often than not, what they are pitching is not a fit at all and it's a complete waste of time on both sides. For example, don't be that person who submits their paintings to a gallery that only represents photographers or who begins their message "Dear Sirs" to a gallery co-founded by women with a woman managing director (yep, I've received several of these).
Wondering what greeting to use? Here's a quick guide.
Your email shouldn't be too short or too long. Two to three paragraphs written like a letter should suffice.
In your introduction, make a connection with the gallery. You can talk about how you learned about them, reference a time you've met if you have before, or give a sincere compliment about their program or a recent exhibition. Then tell them why you're sending your work (see tip 1) and a bit about it (2-3 sentences). Also talk about your career as an artist and mention a few recent exhibitions, awards, or press (if applicable). Then, include a few solid reasons as to why you believe your artwork is a match for this particular gallery. Finally, end by explaining how they can view your work (e.g. website, Dropbox/WeTransfer links, or attachments) and thank them for their time.
Don't Aim to "Win" a Pitch, Start a Relationship
Talk about why you want to work with them specifically, not just any gallery. I'm sure you can see the difference between "Hi, I'm seeking gallery representation" and "I'd love to work with PxP Contemporary gallery and think my work is a fit because of X, Y, and Z."
Thanks so much for reading!
These tips will get you started, but for a truly comprehensive guide on pitching galleries check out The Pitch Guide for Artists. In it, you'll receive 10 pages of written advice for crafting successful pitches, 5+ pitch templates and 6 reviews of real pitches that break down what works, what doesn't, and why. I've sold over 700 of my templates and guides, helping hundreds of artists make advancements in their art careers.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017. Find more of her work at www.aliciapuig.com