Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Professional Art Practice put to the test

Since showing your work at a self-funded gallery may be the ultimate test of professional practice, I will be bringing you daily posts of what it’s like sitting in the Gallery every day with my paintings on display; the people I’ve met, or anything else that occurs to me as useful for us all to know. Perhaps we artists don’t realise what the galleries do for us?

Diary-Day 1 Solo Show (at Danks St)

Well..it IS Melbourne Cup day …and (obviously) early in the week, so that explains the fact that I have had only three people walk into the gallery since opening at 11am (sharp!) this morning. It’s now 2:15pm and I am terribly bored.

The first told me she liked my work and then continued to tell me why she couldn’t paint, (she didn’t have time, she was always running around at her husband’s request; that no-one supported her, no subject matter gave her a burning desire to paint etc etc – the usual); the second visitor came for about one minute- long enough for me to give him a bio/statement/price list until his wife came in and dragged him away; and the other was the director of the Gallery across the way returning a key I had leant him. About three other groups of people have looked in and kept walking – were they on their way to an appointment with another gallery? Did my stuff just not grab them?

And because I have time, I got to thinking-

What’s the best way to Set up and Man a gallery, to get sales? So I thought I’d moot this for a discussion topic.

I have decided to place the info sheets regarding my work on the table I am sitting at, in the back of the gallery space, rather than leave it by the door. That way I need to get up and approach the visitor with the price list, have a chance to greet the visitor and introduce myself, offer to answer any questions they may have…and usually, begin to blabber a bit much.

What is the best way to interact with people in the gallery situation?

Perhaps we should have a bit of a conversation about this – your comments will help me, now, and others in the future regarding this vexed thing on selling our artwork direct. What do you think about not placing the price list at the door like everyone else? What is a good opening line to someone that has walked in the door, after you hand them a list? Am I creating confusion by not doing the expected (placing the list by the door), and if so, how else do I engage people who walk in to the gallery, so they spend some time looking at the work, without feeling pressured?

What has worked for you?

On the other important matter, the photos here show how I have set up the gallery. Do you think I have hung it well? Should I have more or less work?

Your comments will help us all when we need to sell our work direct.


  1. The whole show looks professional and I like the hang too. I can't give any advice on your strategies because Ive hardly been there myself but I think it's great that you approach people. Most people who venture in to a gallery like the look of what they see initially so if they hover at the entrance and then leave then it's a fair sign that they don't. personally I love it when someone takes the time to tell me about the work and it's a bonus that it should be the artist. Being able to approach people as you do is fantastic! I think it's all you can do. Let the work do the talking too.

  2. Thanks Undercover painter. I have actually changed the hang, see next post!



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