The official site for the Detroit Art & Business Institute and Andrea Rosenfeld, professional artist and business consultant to the creative community in Detroit and Michigan.

Recycle Your Portfolio: What Gallerists Want Now


Recycle Your Portfolio: What Gallerists Want Now

I talk with creative businesses often, in fact I was just a guest speaker at a Success Summit in Cleveland with gallery owners, so I was surprised to hear a student in my Mind Your Art Business Growth Course, Ann Arbor mention that the galleries that she’s been speaking to don’t want a traditional portfolios. You know, the bulky ones in black cases with translucent sheets, like the image above.

I’m old-school and am used to sharing traditional portfolios so I decided to ask some gallerists and other professionals how they currently want to receive an artist’s images and although they are different sized businesses with different clients, they had similar answers.

HATCH Gallery Director, Chris Schneider: “Our computer does not have a disc drive. Online portfolio preferred, and go in person to the gallery. Do not create an awkward situation by trying to have a gallery director talk to you about doing a show without a scheduled meeting. Follow the method the gallery has in place for proposing shows.”

Art Show Basics

Janice Charach Gallery Assistant Director, Natalie Jane Balazovich: “Digital portfolios are the way to go. For exhibit proposals, we sometimes receive a printed (81/2×11) package with a CD or thumb drive included. No fancy binders or expensive leather books required. We want to see the artwork. That’s all we care about, a clean presentation of quality artwork. At the gallery we are always busy, we don’t want to fill our days with meetings if we don’t know the quality of the work first. So for those who are just starting out, always have a few DIGITAL images ready to send via email with a statement, exhibit proposal and bio.”

Creating Sales Opportunities: Every Moment Counts

Anton Art Center Executive Director, Phil Gilchrist: “…emphasis on digital submissions (medium sized, not HUGE) jpg by email or website preferred, PDF probably second. Printed materials or thumb drives can be annoying to keep track of (speaking as an administrator). Include resume and statement. Also, drop-ins are one of my biggest pet peeves. Make an appointment, stick to it, please don’t be late!”

Art Leaders Gallery President, Bonnie Mansour: We have no time to review your website, especially if there are hundreds of images with little to no organizations. We prefer an email introduction with bio, CV and 5 images, only.  If we like what we see, we’ll ask for more.

Tips on How to Rise Above the Frustrations of Art Business Building

So as you can see the traditional portfolio seems to be dying away. My suggestion to you is to have your portfolio on a CD in a well-designed and branded case, and on a thumb drive and current, easy-to-find and review work on your website [hyper link Spring Cleaning] but you may want to have a physical portfolio on hand just in case. It doesn’t have to be a traditional set up but include your artist statement, bio, clear and professional images, a well-researched, realistic price list (with healthy profit margins) and your contact information.

I also HIGHLY suggest that after you do all of the very important client research, that you contact the gallery (or look on their website) to find out how they want your work presented and follow their instructions, to the letter.

How to Increase Business Growth

Very important, BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS!!! Unless you want to piss industry people off, don’t walk into a gallery/retailer unannounced and plop your work down expecting to be reviewed on the spot. Galleries and retailers are actual businesses with time frames and deadlines, just like your business, so respect that. And as Phil stated above, when you DO make an appointment, be on time. Basically, be a professional, creative business owner.

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