...body of work, that is.
As we gear up for the deluge of art shows, festivals, and competitions that fill up the warmer months, we should always have an eye out for the next potential gallery representation. Usually it is best to approach these in Spring-- especially in areas prone to tourism-- before the high traffic hits the local businesses. When you do so, make sure your body of work is up to snuff. Author Robert Regis Dvorak puts it very well in his book:
Selling Art 101
Body of Work
"If you are an artist who wants to sell your work, you need to have a body of work-- a number of paintings, prints, sculpture pieces, whatever you do, at minimum 12 to 20 pieces-- that look like they were done by the same person, all are about the same size, all are in the same medium, all are completed, and all have a contextual theme. Don't even attempt to go to an art gallery in search of representation unless you have that. Do not take an assortment of media, thinking that you will impress the gallery owner by your range of talent and skill. The work that you will show must be of the highest calibre-- only your very best work. Don't risk showing secondrate work.
"Think of the painters and sculptors who are well known-- Georgia O'Keefe, Mark Rothko, Willem De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Alberto Giacometti, J.M.W. Turner. Each artist's work has unique subject matter, is consistent in medium, and has a contextual theme.
"Art Dealers are looking for new work. Do not imitate the success of others. If a dealer or critic sees a resemblance to another artist, you are not welcome. You may borrow knowledge and information, but you must do your own work.
"When you have a body of work and feel psychologically prepared to sell, be very discriminating. Pick your best, most original creative works and go for it!"
Good advice. Good book, too.
Don't ever try to put the cart before the horse and think that oh, a half dozen will be good enough to get your foot in the door. While your work may be consistent and in keeping with the same theme, your prospective gallery representative may single one particular piece out and say, "I like this one. Do you have any more like this?" You don't EVER want to have to say, "This is all the work I have!" Make sure you have ample work.
It is also a good idea to have an ample amount of your artwork available for viewing online, sold works and current works. I have picked up gallery representation by way of works displayed on my website, but I have always had an adequate amount of work available or accessable when the gallery owner wants to personally see more.
The best rule of thumb is, do not set out looking unless you have those 12 to 20 pieces. The size of your works may also influence how many you'll need. If you work in a small scale like I do, you'll want to have at least 18 - 20. Just consider what it would take to dress out a 10 by 10 booth and you should be fine.