How to Apply to a Gallery, Part 2: Types of Galleries

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant, and Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

Click here to read part one.

When you are applying to an art gallery, it’s important to note that there are several kinds of galleries. The first is a commercial gallery, which is an individually owned, for-profit gallery. These galleries are run as a retail business. The owner will choose to either purchase artwork outright at a wholesale rate, or to sell the work on a consignment basis. The latter option is more common. This means the artist receives a portion of the price of the artwork when a piece is sold, and the gallery receives the rest. As mentioned in the last post, there are many reasons why a gallery needs the consignment they are owed. This allows the gallery to continue to run!

The second type of gallery is a cooperative gallery, in which artists join together to set up and run the gallery. Everything involved in running the gallery is dealt with democratically between the members, and the gallery is co-owed by all the artists involved. In this case, wall space in the gallery is shared by the artists in the cooperative. If an artist wishes to join, there will be a charge and usually a monthly fee to pay. Sometimes these galleries will show works of artists who do not belong to the cooperative, but usually there is a fee for this.

Lastly, there are museums, which are publicly funded galleries which generally do not sell the work they show. These are funded by grants and through the government, and do not run like a retail business. These usually are run by some sort of advisory board and employ a curator who chooses which pieces will be shown. The institution may have a gallery gift store or boutique that does sell items. Again research is advised before approaching the store or boutique.

The Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina is a public, not-for-profit gallery.
Have you spotted the issue with these explanations yet? They are not cut-and-dry definitions. The Affinity Gallery at the SCC is a hybrid of the public and private types of galleries. We are funded by the government and by grants, and we are considered a public, not-for-profit gallery (meaning there is no entrance fee and we are open on some statutory holidays) but we do sell pieces on a consignment basis in our exhibitions, if the artist chooses. We make money to fund the gallery through these types of sales. The SCC also has a gallery boutique featuring a selection of works by Juried SCC artists.

Again, the underlying message here is to do some research before you approach any gallery. It is important to understand these different types of galleries, as they determine if or how you can make money off of your artwork. 

How to Apply to a Gallery, Part 1: Advice from the Experts

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant, and Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

In order to have your work exhibited in a gallery, you need to approach a gallery. However, like many things in life, some ways are more effective than others. Often gallery owners and directors become frustrated with the lack of understanding from artists about what they do and how they do it. We asked several gallery owners and operators what they wish artists knew before applying to a gallery. This is what they told us.

With the internet, it's very easy to do your research about any gallery.

First and foremost: do your research. Before contacting a gallery, check out their website and mission statement. What kind of work does the gallery show? What level of artists do they exhibit? Do you need to be a member of an organization to show there? Is your artwork a fitting style for that gallery? As one gallery owner wrote, “An abstract artist contacting a traditional gallery will probably not get a response.” Be realistic about the gallery and your work. Another owner advised, “If you are a new artist with no gallery experience, approaching a major art institution is likely not going to be fruitful.”

The second most common comment is do not walk into a gallery with your work hoping to find someone who will be immediately available to talk to you about showing or selling your pieces in their gallery. Find out who the most appropriate staff member is to speak to, and make an appointment. Everyone’s time is important; show that you value and respect theirs as much as your own. If you do walk into a gallery without an appointment, do not expect instant feedback about your work. Most galleries will not accept walk-ins of this kind.

The next advice given by those we interviewed is to check the submission protocol of the gallery. Submit everything the gallery asks for, which may include an artist’s statement, a curatorial statement, a CV, an estimate of value, and photographs in the correct type of file (for example, .jpg or .gif files). Follow the instructions you are given regarding these types of procedures.

Do not simply cold call the gallery without first doing your research. In a book directed at new gallery owners, How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, Edward Winkleman writes:

Because cold-call submissions are often the least productive means of finding suitable artists, they tend to be most dealers’ least preferred means of searching. No matter how explicit your submission guidelines may be about the type of art you’re interested in, you are likely to receive package or e-mails with images of work that seems plainly wrong for your program. On the other hand, every now and then, an unsolicited submission will make your day. Either the artist has done his research and knows his work is a good match for your mission, or fate basically smiles on you. (190)
Why not try your hardest to be that artist who makes a gallery owner’s day? Don’t wait for fate. Do your research!

One gallery manager pointed out that it is frustrating when artists are unrealistic about the costs of running a gallery. There are a huge number of expenses which are covered by the gallery’s commission on any artwork sold. A gallery’s share of a sale goes towards rent, utilities, advertising, staff, shipping, insurance, and security.  This is why a gallery will take a percentage of the profit from any sales made.

The bottom line is to research the gallery before you apply. It will save everyone involved time and frustration. However, if you find that your first few applications are not fruitful, try to remember that there is a learning curve involved. A rejection could be an opportunity for constructive feedback and success in the future. 

Click here to read part two. 

Winkleman, Edward. "Artists: Where To Find Them; How To Keep Them." How to Start and Run a Commerical Art Gallery. New York: Allworth, 2009. 160. Print.

It’s been just over a month – it feels like six – in a good way

Submitted by: Carmen Milenkovic, SCC Executive Director
 Carmen Milenkovic, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Craft Council; 
Photo by Ljubisa Spasic

There’s a certain irony regarding my joining the Saskatchewan Craft Council as the Executive Director. I used to be part of the adjudication process, back in the days of PCOs and SaskCulture. I, along with other colleagues, would diligently read the contents of the 4” binder outlining the programs and hopes and dreams for the organization. And now, here I am, in the Executive Director chair, trying to figure it all out.

Daniel J Kirk works on She Dreams of Color at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Daniel J Kirk, Asherah Cinnamon, Katie Green)
Photo by Ian Preston

I must say that when I agreed to a July 2nd start date I thought that meant I would have the summer to immerse myself – at a somewhat leisurely pace – in the nuts and bolts of the organization. I have been immersed, but forget the leisurely pace. In six short weeks, I’ve:
  • Wandered among the booths at Waterfront;
  • Visited the exhibit, Art of the Book, numerous times;
  • Observed an exhibition change over;
  • Witnessed the erection of A Show About Nothing (and continue to visit it daily);
  • Attended a very busy and fun opening reception where I met EMMA artists, members and even some friends that I hadn't seen for a long time;
  • Had over twenty meetings with stakeholders and supporters;
  • Was apprised of the process of the Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival and the Toronto Gift Show;
  • Met with the SCC Board of Directors;
  • Wandered through the Boutique on numerous occasions;
  • Attended the auction on the final day of the WoodTurners Symposium;
  • Submitted a grant application (on my first day if you can imagine - got the results - it was successful!);
  • Started to learn a new accounting program and get a handle on the financials;
  • Became updated on the direction and strategic initiatives of the Canadian Craft Federation;
  • Had numerous conversations with members and supporters of the SCC; and
  • Tried my hand at blogging.
The highlight to date was my deep water dive into the EMMA International Collaboration 2014. I visited for a couple of days – wandered around the site at Ness Creek, watched the pieces take shape, listened to the interaction between artists; I took advantage of their generosity to answer my questions and give me insight into their process and what EMMA meant to them. I come from the film world, which is always collaborative, and wandering around EMMA reminded me of that spirit, that industriousness and the need to troubleshoot and come up with new ideas when the planned ones don't work and you're going to camera in five. I loved that rush, and that building of community, which in real time can be short, but in "feelings" time is forever.

    June Jacobs works on Buoh Doctor at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Te Rangitu Netana, Nadine Jaggi, Michel Boutin, June Jacobs, John Wirth, Katie Green, Cassie Rosteski & Kjelti Anderson); Photo by Ian Preston

The experience was capped by the EMMA Auction. On a hot sultry night in August - probably our hottest day of the summer - we witnessed the transformation from work site to gallery exhibit. It was glorious. Thanks to all who attended and loved the excitement of the purchase. The heat and tight fit couldn't supplant our euphoria.

   Control Flabula in Wood by Tod Emel at EMMA International Collaboration 2014
Photo by Ian Preston

It makes me wonder what I’ll be able to say after my first year.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council is a treasure, worth savouring, protecting and enriching. 
2015 is a big year for us. We’ll celebrate our 40th Anniversary and are part of a national celebration, Craft Year 2015. At the heart of it all is the impulse that drives the creation of art. It’s beating loudly at the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
Thanks for welcoming me into the thicket. I’m looking forward to finding my way.

The History of the Emma International Collaboration

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration took place this past week, and it seems very timely to find out just how it came to be. With a decades-long history, Emma is now hosted biannually at the Ness Creek Festival Site.

Michal Hosaluk
Jamie Russell
Don Kondra

A trio of Saskatchewan woodworkers - Michael Hosaluk, Jamie Russell and Don Kondra - began organizing woodturning symposiums and workshops in Saskatoon in the early 1980s at the Kelsey Campus. They began the symposiums because there was a lack of formal craft education in Saskatchewan, beyond the weaving and pottery offered at the University of Saskatchewan.  Their woodturning conference was staggered biannually with a furniture conference in the same venue and eventually these two events were merged in 1985 and became a biannual event together.

Collaboration at a past Emma. 
In 1996, the first Emma Lake Wood Conference was organized and was held at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus, after the Kelsey Campus cabinetry program closed in 1994. The event was “agenda free and hands-on,” which is a mantra continued to be upheld by Emma Collaborations today.

The attendees were invited to the collaboration and these included longtime woodturners, as well as newer, less experienced artists. Although it began as a woodturning conference, many new mediums were added, including glass etching, metal casting and fabrications, beadwork and Japanese lacquer. Each year, new mediums are introduced and focused on. Now, Emma involves almost every craft medium one can imagine!
A past Emma Auction.

The main hope of the event is that all attendees will act as both teachers and students. Participants are urged to try new things and experiment with other artists. The seclusion of the event means that artists can completely immerse themselves in the art they create during the collaboration. A public auction is held at the end of the week-long conference, the proceeds of which are used to fund future Emma Collaborations.

Today, over 100 artists are invited from all over the world to attend. The event was moved to Ness Creek in 2006, although it kept the Emma name. The event continues to uphold the original intent, which was to hone a creative environment without a set agenda, at which artists can learn and grow. The Saskatchewan Craft Council has been involved since 1982, working as the administrative support to the creative event.

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration Auction is taking place this Thursday, August 7, 2014 at PAVED Arts and AKA Gallery in Saskatoon. You can view the event poster here. Attend for your chance to view and purchase the beautiful collaborative artwork created at the conference!