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Old 05-27-2005, 12:00 PM   #5
Anthony Emmolo Anthony Emmolo is offline
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Joined: Feb 2002
Location: California
Posts: 97
Hello Heidi,

Good luck in your attempts. You'll do fine if you just keep pushing in a single direction. I don't know if I'm lucky or not, but I am four out of five in picking up a gallery on the day I set out looking. Carmel CA, Napa CA, Scottsdale AZ and here in Shanghai, China. I will tell you my way of doing it, and my philosophy:

First of all get a very professional portfolio. I had mine customized to the exact size I wanted, which included a place to keep post cards and a video of an interview with a local cable TV channel. The thought was that without even opening the portfolio I wanted the gallery to know that I was a serious professional.

Then, I went early in the morning to the chosen gallery district and walked the streets. In my bag was my portfolio and in my car were two originals. (The originals are needed, because a gallery usually won't make a decision upon seeing a portfolio.) The plan was to just talk to staff in the gallery without even mentioning that I was an artist unless the time felt right. I spoke about the paintings I liked, asked about the artists, turned the conversation to my own experiences as well as the experiences of the person I was talking to, and then if the time felt right, I'd mention my portfolio. Done that way, I've never been treated rudely. People enjoy looking, and four out of five times I was accepted into the gallery. When do I feel that the time is right to mention my portfolio? When I begin to see the person genuinely enjoying the conversation and there are no customers in the gallery needing the help of that particular salesperson. If people like you, they will be warm with you. Then, upon seeing your portfolio, if they feel they can make money off of you, they will have an interest in what you have to offer.

If you are like me, you'll be a little nervous talking to the gallery staff at the beginning of the day. You'll need to warm up. Upon finding the gallery that you want to approach, warm up on galleries that will have no interest in you. Galleries who feature artists who died 100 or more years ago are a good place to warm up. Just talk about the art you enjoy, and have fun.

Keep all name cards and once you are out of sight of the gallery, stop and write notes on the back of the card. A physical description of the person you spoke to, and what you spoke about. Whether you get accepted by a gallery that day or not, keep these name cards and write thank you notes to all of them. Remind them who you are by mentioning what you talked about. Then, whenever you visit the gallery district, stop in and say hello to the people. They will be your connections in the district incase things don't go well with your gallery. Make friendships. It is a networking skill worth learning.

READ, READ AND REREAD "HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE" by Dale Carnegie. It is filled with terrific ways into human relations and it is a fun read.

At the moment I am still in two of the four galleries that I mentioned. One didn't sell very well, so I had to leave the gallery. (Maybe that was my mistake, I don't know.) The other gallery that I left was due to them hiding sales once I moved away from California. Your mention of waiting a year for payment makes me wonder if I jumped the gun there as well. They sold 19 paintings in 18 months and then I moved to Shanghai and they stopped telling me aboput sales. Then, when I did find out about sales, they took about eight months to pay. That never happened when I was living in The USA. Now I don't have that gallery and I miss the sales. So, I guess it is good to think before we act. However, it was probably still smart to leave the gallery. As they begin to sell more work, they begin to owe thousands of dollars, and it becomes frightenning that one day you'll find out that they went bankrupt and cannot pay. That was my fear at least.

Anyway, good luck and go to the bookstore today if you haven't already read the book.


Lastly, once you've found the right gallery for your work, then remember these words from Investment mogal Warren Buffet- Meet the people you'll be doing business with and then ask yourself these three questions: Do I like them? Do I trust them? and Do I respect them? We are investing quite a bit in a gallery once we give them our work. Make sure you say yes to all three questions before accepting them. Remember, they are also being interviewed.

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