Yes. They are - to me they are dragons!
I do not like to be humiliated, I do not like impolite rejection, I do not like the fact that I’m not even given a chance to even show my work, I do not like the hypocrisy.
But is it really a threat? Should I instead sit in my studio and hope for someone to come and rescue - I mean discover - me?
WE all have fears. Rational and irrational. In this context I see myself as a dragon killer - there are some things I fear and I should face them. Maybe I will not overcome my fears - but I should at least not be their prisoner.
My sword and my shield has been preparations (or should have been) - and setting a meeting. I ALWAYS chicken out if I decide to just drop by a gallery and see if it could be a good day for establishing contact. Let's face it - I am a coward. But I am a coward who will at least show up if I have an appointment. Besides - most of the time (hmmm?) someone who has agreed to see you will have given you an appointment when it's a good time for them ... and they have chosen to see you. Right?
So what I have done is to make a phone call (after days of just staring at the phone) and say that I'm an artist and that I would like to exhibit in their gallery (doing my best to sound confident) and that I'll be in Stockholm/Copenhagen/Malmö/wherever for some specific days - could we arrange a meeting? (note: I've never really done this in my own city)
Responses have been from worse to best:
- hahaha. I do not know who you are (little girl) and what art you make - but I can tell you directly that no way you can make it into my gallery or any good gallery in Malmö. Not a chance! (man in his fifties)
- did you study at XX or XX? No? Not interested. (many galleries!)
- we do not work like that (instead: recommendations/want to "discover" artists by themselves)
- I have hundreds of artists contacting me every week ...
- We are working with too many artists as it is (I convinced one of these to meet me anyway by joking and insisting. I got a separate exhibit the very next autumn)
- send me a link to your website and we'll see.
- Yes, you are welcome - I always want to see new art.
It is good that I will get up after getting hit. Ok - I might have gotten exhibits in galleries by first giving a phone call and then meeting in person ... but I have had more unpleasant experiences as well.
- I have come to appointments to just discover that the gallery owner is not there - even though we had decided to meet. (several times)
- I have come to a gallery to discover that it was WAY out of my league (didn't do enough research...) The guy felt very sorry for me and tried to give me some addresses to galleries where it could be better to start out.
- I have come to galleries to discover that I didn't think it was good enough (didn't do enough research...)
- I got really good contact with one of the owners at a gallery (this was in Copenhagen) - and she wanted to give me a separate exhibition the very next year. She said she rarely felt this sure intermediately. But we just needed to confirm with her ex-husband who she ran the gallery with. He showed up very drunk, patronising me and telling me in detail why my paintings weren't good enough. He could be kind and let me hang a small print in a dark corner at their Christmas group exhibition. (He thought I was 20 years old - not 33. Not good excuse, though). Need I say I didn't want to exhibit there? Later I found out he was a painter himself ... and in my eyes not even mediocre.
Nowaday you could say I'm an experienced Dragon fighter. (But I haven't faced the big dragons yet.) I say no to exhibit in some galleries where I've exhibited before because I want something better. And I can give some advice:
- Research the gallery: who are exhibiting there? What are their background? Do your art fit in there (pointless to contact a photo gallery if you just make sculptures). Do you think the art is good?
- preferably have a good website with recent material or good digital photos to send in e-mail (3 photos is my lucky number) if that's what they want to see.
- Call first. Sound confident - say you will be around for another reason.
- Come with good photos/portfolio, CV.(will also make you feel better). Remember that they might want to keep the material so prepare several sets if you plan to visit many galleries.
- Listen. Ask questions about the gallery, the present exhibition etc. But do not suck up.
- Do not take it personally. There must be another reason for their bad behaviour (they probably envy your talent and good looks! Or suffer from haemorrhoids or a bad childhood.)
Some people might think about me now: Does she really think she is that good?
My answer is: There are so many others who try to convince you that you are not good enough. If I don't believe in myself - what is the point?
The walk of a thousand miles starts beneath your feet. How I plan to start that walk towards the very best GALLERIES I'll share with you next Sunday...
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