Seeking Gallery Representation?

Here are a few pointers I can offer for those who want to have their work considered for gallery representation…..any gallery. Save yourself some frustration and do your due diligence.

– Make sure you either visit the gallery or the gallery website. Try to make an honest assessment about whether your work may fit in there. For example, if you are a portrait painter, and they don’t carry any figurative work, it might not be a good fit.

– Contact the gallery to ask if they are open to considering new artists and if they have a submission policy. Nearly every gallery will.

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Do you buy Art?

An interesting question from a fellow artist…Do you buy art and what do you use to judge whether the work you are buying is worth what you are paying for it?

I do, and as long as I can afford it, I buy what speaks to me. But as a gallery owner, I also know that others don’t always feel they can trust their instincts about art and it’s value. They judge monetary value by the judgement of others. And often, that is the value for an artist being in a gallery. Buyers use gallery representation and prices as a measure of of legitimacy. As if someone else has vetted it first, so it must be good. Judgement via the marketplace. Has it ever really been otherwise in the general population? I think that most people feel inadequate in the face of ART. Don’t understand that if they love it and can afford it…that is all that really counts in the purchase equation. I carry work in the Equis Art Gallery, that I love. The artists set the price based upon what it has been selling for in the marketplace. And I feel strongly that for collectors and art lovers…..buy what you love. Don’t concern yourself over perceived value. Does it touch you? Can you afford to own it? When you fall in love with artwork, the value is that it has touched your heart, your mind and maybe even your soul. And I know it sounds trite, but that is priceless.

February

February – you may be short, but you have made a long impact on me.
3 years ago – I was told that I had a large lump on my ovary. Sending me in to a tail spin made up of cancer, surgery and chemotherapy.
2 years ago – I invited a group of my equine artist friends to send me work that I could represent and I created the Equis Art Gallery.
1 year ago – I began a crowd funding campaign to help me raise money to eventually move the Equis Art Gallery into a storefront of my own.
This year – I celebrated – with another surgery, needed because of the one before, AND with the optimism to say…….This coming year will be amazing!

The Meaning of Survival

(This was written for a speech that I was asked to give for a National Cancer Suvivor’s Day event)

When Ellen asked me to speak tonight, I was honored and somewhat surprised. I am only a 2 year survivor after all. There are certainly others involved with OSP who have lived with this scourge much longer than I. But, as I said, I am honored to be asked to share my story and will do what I can to explain what I have learned and about my concept of survivorship.

I am a current survivor of Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. I say current because all of the people in the know that I talk to, remind me that ovarian cancer is a chronic disease and the likelihood of recurrence is pretty high. So I find that I live in a strange place between the expectation of its return and attempting to live in a way that allows me to move forward with my life. A delicate balance between today and the future.

I’m a pretty straight forward person. I like to know what I can anticipate and what the worst possible outcome might be to any situation. I ask questions and expect answers that are direct and helpful. I hate platitudes. I don’t have any desire to live wearing rosy colored glasses. But I do crave kindness with my reality. And appreciate black humor when needed.

I might go so far as to say that most of the “successful” survivors that I have met seem to share these qualities. Although I am not really sure what constitutes a successful survival. Perhaps it is finding a way to live a life that is bigger than your cancer while you have, and for some, after you have had cancer?

Every cancer is as individual as the individual who gets it. But, we also have some common ground as well. Not just as cancer patients, but as those who attempt to find ways to thrive even through cancer. There are attitudes and experiences that we seem to share. Discoveries that become obvious when you put us in a room together and we start to talk with each other.

We talk about how hard it is on some days to think of anything but our cancer. How on other days, we wish with all our might, that it would all just go away. That we could go back to the time of innocence BC, before cancer. To the time when each additional day was free of the balance between dread and gratitude. We share the indignities of treatments. Stories of our frustrations and embarrassments in hospitals, radiology and infusion labs and doctors offices. Discuss openly things like chest ports, needle sticks, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, pain and of course, death. Become familiar with terminology that send our GPs to their medical dictionaries and cause the eyes of friends and family to glaze over. Mostly, we share our fears. Fears that come from living close to our deaths. Our conversations sprinkled with a fair amount of dark humor as well.

So let’s be clearer – What is this thing we call survivorship in relationship to cancer? How is it different from living any “normal” life with the standard unknown time limit? There is an underlying purposefulness to being a survivor. For each of us that takes a different path. For me, I chose to and continue to choose to, follow my hearts dream. One year to the month of finding my tumor, I created a business where none had been before. Cut from whole cloth as they say. Fantasy turned reality for me.

I decided that I truly had no more time to waste. Taking my 30 years of retail experience, my network of artist friends and my admittedly arrogant belief in my own abilities, I opened an art gallery. And not just a general art gallery, nope, I opened a niche gallery focused exclusively on contemporary equine artwork. Hard to get more specific then that. I know that it may seem like an odd thing to do in such a time of economic hardship. But hey, when time feels like it might be running short, you have several choices. You can make the rest of your life all about the thing that is killing you. You can try hard to go on as you did before, which I hear is near to if not totally impossible. Or you take a giant leap of faith in yourself. I decided to LIVE a dream . My form of a bucket list – Start a business. One year in to it, low and behold my business appears to be successful. I will be honest and tell you that I often wonder what I was thinking. Opening an art gallery, when most of the ones I have known have closed their doors. And especially one with such a specific market. And what am I thinking to consider expanding it as I am now, when my cancer could come back any day. When ovarian cancer is considered chronic, especially risky in the first 5 years when statistics show a 61% death rate for Stage 3C and above in ovarian cancer. But, I will tell you that I feel like I am finally doing what I was meant to do. And that means something. It took 56 years and cancer for me to figure this out and I am not going to just let that go. Whether as a businesswoman, gallerist or as a cancer survival example – I was meant to be doing this.

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I recently started writing a short piece that I was thinking of submitting to the National Public Radio for one of their features, so I will leave you with that

This I Believe

I believe that you can’t be a survivor without being a warrior. Not a “soldier”. A warrior. Warriors are deeply powerful people. Protectors. Brave. Strong. Thoughtful. Intelligent. Capable. Spiritual. Cancer is not as some say, a battle. I believe that cancer is an all out war on the patient: body, mind and soul – and that you have to have a belief in your own self worth to be victorious. You have to believe that you matter. That you’re still being in the world has value and purpose. Survivors are not those who curl up in a corner and give up. We, cancer warriors, wear our scars proudly if not always publicly. We laugh and cry in the trenches, bonding with our fellow warriors, travelers, survivors. Our laughter is as strong as steel columns, holding us vertical and as fragile as the thinnest glass. The tears we shed are both heart wrenching and cleansing. We know the toll that our personal wars against cancer have taken on our souls. We are not naive about that. We can’t be. Forged in the fire of cancer, we may not carry a sword or gun, but I believe we are none the less, warriors. And as long as I am still here, I will be adding something unique and special to the world. Something needed. It is the reason that I am still alive. My life, my purpose. Still valid.

This I believe.

Juliet R. Harrison

Business and the Media

In this day and age, it is quite difficult to get a business off the ground. And yet, the growth of new business, large and small, is of key importance in our economy. It is what keeps our county and communities vital and fiscally healthy. Here in the US, we are seeing a sudden resurgence of interest in micro-businesses. A return to the Mom&Pop small town business model.

Question – What role, if any, can and does the media play in the growth and support of a new business? Is there an successful model of partnership between business and media being developed or already in use out there?

The Internet Marketplace – Are Traditional Art Galleries Still Valid? – Artists and Galleries

Access to the marketplace for individual artists, is an unprecedented new thing. What is the role of the gallery in this new age of access?

Traditionally, galleries were the only way an artist could get their work seen and purchased by the public. It was the gallery’s job to do all of the marketing and publicity for the artist. To be both representative and clearinghouse for artists and artwork. For that they commanded higher and higher commissions upon the sale of the work. After all, the rental of gallery space and the cost of advertising is astronomical. At some point in history, gallerists got the notion that without them, artists would not exist. So they started being arrogant and stopped supporting new and emerging artists. It encouraged a divide between the haves and the have nots in the art world. Not just with collectors, but with the artists themselves as well. Collectors used knowing that an artist’s work was in galleries to lend legitimacy to their purchases.

At the same time as this was coming to a head, the gap was getting larger and the downturn in the economy was forcing galleries to close, the accessibility of the internet was gaining ground. It was not so many years ago that the first self marketing artists started to use the medium to reach an audience. I myself have praised the benefit of the democratization of the industry. The placing of the means to market directly in the artists hands. And I have completely benefited from it with sales of my own work. Hard to classify, it was hard for me to find galleries that would represent my work. I discovered that with a website and FB, I could reach collectors myself. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me. So we have developed a world of artists who are working 24/7 to market their work themselves. And many have found initial success, as I have. More power to us.

But, now that the economy is creeping up and art sales are picking up, we are finding that the marketing of our own artwork is exhausting. That it strains the time for creating and can prevent us from getting the immersion in our work that it takes for the work to continue to evolve. Some of us early marketing pros are resenting those hours spend posting on websites and social networking. Frustrated with having to deal directly with collectors, the money end of their purchasing and the tedium of packing and shipping the work after the sale. We have started to ask ourselves, if there is not someone we can turn to, to do that for us?

So we are back to the question – what is the value of selling art through a gallery in this day and age? For the savvy artist with the kind of energy that it takes to do self marketing, it may not seem to make sense on the surface. You have found your collector base. They are supporting your current work. And, let’s face it, you can do much more without having to share that commission with someone else. For the new gallery without a strong established collector base, it is hard to entice an artist like that to forego the efforts of self-marketing and the enticement of keeping all of the money yourself.

Galleries too, have to be proficient internet marketers now. They can’t rely solely on foot traffic sales. They have to expand their reach globally, through websites and social networking, along with traditional advertising and marketing methods. It is only a the nebulous promise that a gallery can make……that if you stick it out with them…..someday, you will only have to create because they will be doing the time consuming marketing for you. But it is a catch-22 for the gallery and the artist. The gallery has to convince the artist to give them a chance, the artist has to support the gallery with their best work and access to their collectors and everyone has to be patient while the gallery works hard to gain a consistent following.
For the newly re-established gallery model to work there must be mutual trust and respect between the gallery and the artist. Galleries need to recognize that the artist no longer “needs” them in the same way for access to making sales of their work. At the same time, the artist can benefit immensely from the connection to the right gallery.

Here is a list of the benefits of having a gallery represent your best work –

1. Because they have numerous artists that they represent, they not only have access to your collector base, but they should have access to the collectors of every other artist in their gallery, thus broadening the global awareness of your work. Not to mention the expansion of collectors that the gallery itself builds from marketing and advertising.

2. Their whole job is the marketing of the work in their gallery, saving your time and energy solely for creating.

3. They have to deal with the difficult collectors and the finances of payments, including time consuming communications, lay-a-ways and payment fees.

4. They will have to deal with the packing and shipping of the work once sold. (a big time consumer as well)

5. Your work will be visible in a brick and mortar space and not hidden in your studio or attic.

6. They should pay for advertising, promotional material and receptions

7. They will write press releases and broaden your visibility in the media

8. In the right situation, gallery representation can in time bring in a steady income to the artist.

And the BIG one….having someone else do all of this for you, frees you up to focus all of your time and energy on being an artist, not a business person.

So, don’t short change yourself or your gallery. New gallery representation takes time. Be sure to keep the work that you offer to the gallery, fresh and offer them new work to carry from time to time. If you are self marketing, trust them with work that you have not already marketed to death. Keep the communication lines open. Check in with your gallery from time to time. Ask if they need anything from you. It will remind them to keep talking your work up to visitors. Send them any press or media coverage that you have gotten, so that they can use that in their efforts on your behalf. And with hard work and luck….galleries will make a comeback and there will be a better balance of art making and marketing in all our lives.