There are times when it seems like there are only a few galleries showing art in Pittsburgh. There are many talented artists in this town and space is at a premium. This small pool of supply and large pool of demand is really hard on artists without a huge exhibition resume; it makes it that much more challenging to break into the gallery scene.
A few gallery alternatives include:
Boutiques and other small retail stores
Offices, like dentists, chiropractors, etc
Salons and/or spas
How to Pitch Yourself to a Non-Gallery
First, do you have all the essentials covered? We’re talking about business cards, photographs of your current work on your website, and inventory to actually hang or otherwise display somewhere.
You do? Awesome! Now you’re ready for the next step of your training.
[Oh, and here are a few other things to consider when you’re marketing yourself out in the wild.]
If you visit a place that has artwork on the walls, the most direct route is talking to someone who works there. Hey, you’re already in the building - why not! It’s easier than getting a card for someone you’re already talking to and trying to connect after you leave.
When speaking with someone at the establishment, ask how they select their art, if they rotate artists, and how you should go about submitting your work for consideration.
Alternatively, be on the lookout for places that are devoid of artwork. If you visit a spot that has empty walls, consider pitching a show to them. Always start with the benefit to the business. In this case, it would be that they can make their walls more interesting for a period of time without any work on their part. All they have to do is agree to let you hang your artwork.
Other Alternatives to Consider
Another thing to consider outside of the traditional gallery is making connections with local curators and art consultants. Find out when their next exhibition or opening is, then show up, introduce yourself, and try to make a genuine connection with them.
The extra mile of making a genuine connection will work in your favor. They’ll remember you when they have a show in which your work might fit. Also, they’ll be more likely to consider you when they have a client looking to purchase original pieces for their home or office.
Look for people like:
Carolyn Pierotti with Percolate Gallery
Casey Droege with Casey Droege Cultural Productions
Building up a relationship increases trust and the chances that you’ll have a repeat customer. If anything else, they may refer you to another person looking for what you have to offer.
There are unique spaces to show your art that are more than just galleries. It can be tough to open up to a non-gallery exhibitor, but the benefits will out-number the no’s you may receive on the way. You may find a new permanent place to show your art.
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