There are things a gallery may never tell you, but you need to know. They can make a difference to your success.
Framing your own work isn't always a super idea.
Some galleries take on the responsibility of framing, but many galleries ask the artist to provide the art framed. If they haven't given you specific guidelines as to what they want, you are on your own.
Many 2-D artists struggle with framing costs and turn to on-line sources for special order frames. But unless you have a background in framing, including the craftsmanship to do a professional job, you might be wasting not only your time but your money -- because poorly framed art generally does not sell.
If you opt for the do-it-yourself route, beware these common pitfalls:
Your frame does not complement the artwork, the width is too narrow or too wide, or it's too "difficult" to hang comfortably in a group setting. Overly ornate frames can be awkward to place on a wall that must accommodate a grouping of different artwork in different frames. Not only must the artwork "flow" but the framing must also "flow" for the eye to move comfortably. And for clients to visualize it "living comfortably" in their home.
If you're re-using a frame, give it a close inspection before asking someone to sell it for you. Be sure it's in the condition you would demand if you were being asked to pay the retail price.
Don't forget the back - it's just as important as the front. Make sure your backing paper is evenly trimmed, not dried out or torn, and firmly attached. Your wires should be tightly and neatly twisted, with the sharp ends either crimped under or wrapped in tape. Don't forget the wall bumpers. Before the sale is finalized, many clients will hold the artwork, turn it over and look at the back. Don't blow the sale with a sloppy finish.
Your drawing flaws make the piece a white elephant.
A lot of sales have been lost due to drawing flaws. If your work is intended to be representational, the public has little tolerance for anything that seems "off." In fact, if they spot something that doesn't make visual sense it immediately becomes the subject of conversation and you can't move them off it.
Often these drawing flaws are overlooked by the artist who "already knows what it is." Sometimes they are intentional. But if a prospective client sees a painting that just looks wrong, there's no amount of brush work or great color that can get them past their belief that the river "flows uphill."
Your style looks too easy.
People buy art that impresses them, inspires them, or affects them emotionally in some way. And many women - who are the primary purchasers of art - are creative people themselves. If it looks like something they think they could do on their own, they won't buy it.
However, people are always impressed by superlative technique, whether the work is realistic or abstract. Set the bar high and don't settle for "easy."
The secret reason why your bio is important.
The purpose of your bio is to concisely demonstrate the professional level of your work and the consistency of your output using one paragraph and a listing by date of your accomplishments.
Write clearly, not extravagantly. Describe your style and influences in a single sentence. State how long you have been working professionally, and explain your background and training. Explain what distinguishes your art from that of others, and augment this with a brief description of your artistic philosophy. By adding a quote and/or mentioning where you live, your family, or when you were born, you add a personal impression to the facts.
Your consistency is demonstrated by the number and professional level of the juried and solo shows you've participated in, by your membership in professional organizations, and any awards and honors you've received, collections (sales) and gallery associations. This information is usually listed by date, most recent first, in a standard format. One or two pages is usually enough, although if you feel the need, you can add the words "additional information upon request."
If you don't have a long list of accomplishments, include what you do have in the listing. Keep in mind the real purpose and work toward fleshing out the missing pieces as quickly as you can. In the mean time, have a really strong, extremely large body of work to show. You want to communicate that if your work starts selling, you'll be able to consistently provide new work at the same technical level.
Extras that mark you as a professional.
Label the back of your artwork with the title and your name. Many artists include a document with an image of the artwork, the date of creation, materials and other technical information (such as how to clean it), perhaps a small artist statement regarding the work. You can use a clear plastic page protector, attached to the backing paper with double sided tape, then slip the document inside.
Prepare an artist statement that fits the work and include it on a separate piece of quality resume paper. Include a quote from yourself, usually one or two sentences in quotation marks within the body of the statement. Think about what you would like the gallery to say about you in any press release or publicity piece they might put out. If the gallery uses a blog to promote new work, get an idea of what they traditionally post.
Include a CD with your images - last name and title -- at high resolution 300 pixels per inch (ppi). The gallery can resize down for web applications or easily send an image to newspapers or magazines for print. Try to anticipate what a gallery might need. Don't expect them to contact you or hunt down the information on their own because they won't have the time and will move on to an artist who did provide the material.
Why you might be accepted by a gallery in spite of "all the above."
There is no one-generalization-fits-all for art galleries. Some galleries are more flexible than others on what they accept. Just as there are all levels of galleries, there are different reasons why an artist might have his work accepted. It could be that the gallery director sees something worth exploring. Or perhaps they don't really know what will sell now so they're putting everything up. But regardless, you, the artist, should be doing everything you can to make sure that no matter what the reason why, once you're there you put yourself in the strongest position possible.