Lately I’ve been thinking about beginning the quest of finding a gallery. And I’ve been trying to define my USP (unique selling proposition). I’d love to have representation so I could focus more on making the art and less on selling it. The subtitle for this post ought to be #dreamersgonnadream, but as far as I know, there’s no way to add subtitles to blog posts yet.
This morning I made a little collage of all the bird paintings I’ve done so far. Once I’d added all the images to the collage, it surprised me a little at how many there are. It’s easy to lose track of just how far I’ve come in building a body of work. Often I feel as if I haven’t painted very many things yet and have put off approaching galleries for representation because of that. But this is only the birds. I have more of other subjects, too. All of my paintings reflect my unique selling proposition, too. So maybe now I have a good enough portfolio to start the search.
Finding a Gallery
The little bit of looking online at the various galleries gives me a sense of ‘maybe this isn’t going to work’, though. It seems like most of the galleries are hanging different types of art than the type I make. Abstract, non-representational, large canvases, and bold colors make up the bulk of what it seems people are buying these days from galleries.
I’m not sure where the galleries are with the kind of art I make. So I think a bit of homework is in order. I’ll start close to home, here in northwest Arkansas first. Yesterday I visited a gallery in Fayetteville, but it didn’t strike me as the right one, either. Luckily there’s a whole lot more to go through before I call it hopeless here.
Update on the Quest in Finding a Gallery | 2021
It took me a little while to get around to beginning the pitching process. Honestly, fear held me back. So I contacted one gallery in the local area and after a couple of weeks I haven’t heard anything back. So today I hit ‘send’ on a pitch to another one. It’s not like I should be afraid of this process – I’ve done it a lot with my writing as I searched for homes to publish short stories. Lots of rejections and a few acceptances. That’s how this works too. So, if I hear nothing back from this one, I’ll try another one in a couple more weeks. The difference between doing this as a writer and doing it as an artist is that it seemed there were more guidelines for how to do it as a writer.
My USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
I went into this business of ‘being an artist’ with the idea of actually making it a business. With almost every other sort of business I can think of, sales and marketing relies on a concept called a Unique Selling Proposition. It’s about what it is that makes your product different than all the billions of other product choices on the market.
Well, I’m not sure that matters all that much when it comes to art. People love and buy what they like. Or what they think will increase in value with time. Or whatever matches the decor of the space they want to fill.
However, if I have to nail down my USP, it is the pigments. All of my work is done in hand-foraged, hand-processed abundant local resources. Every painting begins with going out to look for the rocks, clay, or other items I’ll need to make the paint. Sometimes I may already have some on hand from previous paintings, but I always have to take an inventory and make sure of it.
When it comes to finding a gallery, part of the job will be to seek out one that cares about this sort of thing. I want them to want to promote my work, and the biggest merit to my entire portfolio is the pigment. There are LOTS of other artists out there who create art just as beautiful and are more extraordinary artists than I ever hope to become. But I know there are lots of people out there who will like my work, too. And I think the uniqueness of my paints are one of the selling points.
Maybe at first glance, no one understands or cares about the pigments. What they care about is whether they like the picture they see. But the pigments play a part in that. If a person likes bold colors, they won’t look twice at my art. But if they’re nature lovers, I think they’ll step a bit closer. Maybe they’ll read the information posted on the wall next to it. Then they’ll begin to understand why the colors are the hues and shades they are. And perhaps then it’ll fascinate them to the point that they just have to own a Madison Woods Original. #dreamersgonnadream
If you have a favorite gallery that you think my art fits in with, please clue me in. I am thinking maybe farther west would be interested in my earthy palette and nature art. But my dream would be to find a home for them right here in northwest Arkansas… as long as I’m dreaming, how about Crystal Bridges or the new Momentum museum? Now THAT would be incredible, lol. Again, #dreamersgonnadream
Aside from finding a gallery, there’s also the option of seeking an agent. I think that’s something I’d need a lot more clout to secure, but since I’m already dreaming, why not add that to the wish list?
The Flip Side
After all the thought of finding a gallery, or even an agent, there’s another side of this quest to consider. Do I really want either one? Would I be able to give up the control I have as a free agent? Those are serious considerations, and I guess I need to decide how I feel about it before I spend much time and effort looking for something I perhaps don’t even really want.
Do I like maintaining my own website and the associated sales? Yes. Yes I do. Would I like to simply direct all sales inquiries to my agent/gallery? Probably. That would be pretty cool. But then what if that agent says that I need to quit making blog posts that show my process. Or quit selling prints. Or only sell a certain amount of signed prints and none of the notecards or little giveaway items I do. Not so sure I’d like that. I enjoy posting the process of making a painting, and the rapport I’m building with my mailing list with the giveaways. I’d have to think about this point. Then there’s the money. I can automatically assume 50% of any sale would go to the gallery. Probably even more to an agent. Now that might not bother me so much if the prices were extraordinary. But it wouldn’t work for me as they stand now. Haha, it probably wouldn’t work for a gallery or an agent, either.
Maybe I won’t be finding a gallery, after all
So I think I’ve talked myself out of worrying about things the uber-elite artists are worrying about. I’ll just stick to continuing to do what I’m doing now. Gather rocks, make paint, and put the brush to the paper. And in between it all, I’ll make these blog posts and let y’all know what I’m up to. Enough of the dreaming. Now I have to get back to the doing.
Have a great weekend, y’all!