Thread Reviews- Application etiquette
So as any of you who read my blog know this past week I have been working on finishing the selection of the artists for the next Textile Arts Center exhibit PLAY, and that process has made me feel this post must be written. Luckily my inbox was flooded with high quality and amazing work, which of course made it even harder to narrow it down but alas I have. Unfortunately this process was made much more difficult by the fact that there was a major lack of understanding towards the best way to submit work from the artists themselves.
an image by Play artist Bren Ahearn, an artist I love working with.
So here is my advice on how to increase your chance of getting into a show.
First FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS. I literally cannot count how many artists dismissed the guidelines and submitted what they wanted, how they wanted. I can tell you right now if I was a standard gallery curator these submissions would have been immediately disregarded. Which would have been unfortunate as many of these submissions were the best work. So as someone that has been on both sides of this experience here we go.
1. Any open call or submission call is going to be flooded. Especially in NYC therefore gallerist’s and curators have a very limited time to look through and start to edit down these submissions. A very easy way to eliminate someone is did they follow the directions. Most gallerist’s will assume that if you cannot follow the simple directions of a call then you are not an artist that they want to work with.
2. If you do not know how to properly size images LEARN. In this day an age 95% of submissions are digital so you must, must, must learn to size your images. If you cannot this will put you at a major disadvantage. Again many galleries will just out your submission aside if this has not been done properly.
3. DO NOT SEND gigantic images. You are not working to your advantage if it takes 5 minutes for your image to open because it is 6000KB you are frustrating the person opening the file, and you may be totally losing their interest. They may even decide this is taking too long and shut it- never even seeing your file. There is no reason to send an image over 1.5kb via email unless they have requested, which would most likely only be as they want to print it.
4. ALL OF YOUR INFO should be in one email. I had more then 6 emails from multiple artists. This was frustrating, confusing, exhausting, and annoying. You can easily size 10 images to fit into one email, YOU CAN really I do it all the time. This makes the curator your friend. They open your email see everything easily and then can decide how much further they want to look.
super simple studio set up from here.
5. Take professional looking images. I know that not everyone can take great photos. BUT you can take some effort to take the best ones you can. The biggest mistake I see is artists taking photos of their work on their dining room table or their porch outside. Granted I often take pictures in these same places but….the gallerist looking at it never knows. It looks totally unprofessional if as I am looking at your art I am also learning your taste in decorating. A piece of white foam board costs nothing but placed on a table and as a backdrop makes a WORLD of difference in the presentation of your work. Always photograph work on a neutral background. Firstly this lets me see your work and not a bunch of other distracting stuff. 2nd it makes you come off as a serious professional artist and not an amateur. If you are terrible at taking photos ask a friend to help.
6. If their is a submission fee pay it and pay it the way they have requested. I know that submission fees add up. I mean I really KNOW. I have been paying them for years. But putting on an exhibit takes A LOT of man hours, PR, and money. This is what the fee goes for. And most exhibits really need it to make the thing happen. If you have a technical issue paying the fee for some reason contact the person so you can work it out.
6. Be courteous. In the process of making a selection for a gallery or show often there are works and artists that you like but whom are just not right in that moment for that exhibit. So you are shooting yourself in the foot if you are unprofessional towards that person if you get rejected. You have no idea that person may have had you earmarked for future opportunities or they may move on to be part of an important space or program. And if you are rude or unprofessional they will remember and not want to work with you again.
detail of Jennifer Hunold project
7. If you get selected by a gallery or artist do not be a diva. Every show I have done I have that one artist that is super demanding, this is not attractive. Obviously the curator and space is there to work with the artist and they should want the artist to be happy with how things go. But they are also giving the artist an opportunity. Therefore, if you make yourself an easy and pleasant artist to work with that gets them the materials they ask for, provides them with the needs your work has, and if you are working more closely with them through installation or because it is a solo show be friendly and kind. They will appreciate that and remember how great you were to work with. If you are a prima-donna making demands and having expectations they will remember that even though they love your work they DO NOT love you.
I have worked hard and long as an artist to get my professional presentation down and in this current art world it is essential. This is no longer the days of galleries which hand hold their emotional and elusive artists. Oh how in ways that would be nice. But artists are expected more and more to take on the business side of who they are as an artist, even those represented by galleries. So I encourage everyone out there to take the time to honor your work and give it the best opportunity to be seen by following these guidelines.
I hope this was helpful and I look forward to announcing the selected artists for play tomorrow or Monday. It is going to be a great show!
Until next time keep your needle threaded.