Submitting to Galleries

Are you an artist looking to.. advance your career, make the transition into full-time artist, or begin offering your work to galleries? This might be the post for you!

Principle Gallery Alexandria, VA

Submitting your work to a gallery

Navigating gallery relationships can be overwhelming, even intimidating, so I’ve put together some helpful advice. These are some pointers and things that we are looking for. Each gallery has different criteria so my first word of advice is to thoroughly research the gallery you plan to present your work to. In addition, take note of who you would be addressing in your submission. Check to see if the gallery owner or director’s name is listed on the website so you can address the correct person.

Examine the gallery’s website to find the submission guidelines before contacting the gallery asking how to submit your work. If submissions are accepted via email or online only, don’t just show up work in person without first emailing to gauge interest or setting up an appointment. It can be a waste of your time and the gallery’s.

In addition to researching the submission criteria, look at the type of work the gallery features and determine if your work fits within the realm of their current inventory. Be honest with yourself about the level of quality of your work. For example, we primarily exhibit contemporary realism, focusing on painting, drawing, and some sculpture. Some of our inventory may be a hybridization that could feature elements of impressionism, abstraction, magical realism, etc. but the root of the work is based in realism. Essentially we just don’t have a large market for photography, abstraction, abstract expressionism, etc.

In order to make your submission stand out, make sure it’s well thought out. Sending an email and only directing a gallery to your social media pages or website is not a proper submission, it feels impersonal and a bit lazy. Take the time to create a portfolio of great and high-resolution images (properly color balanced), and what is currently available. Please do not send a submission full of unavailable work. We want to see your best work and work that is accessible to us.

Below are our Submission Guidelines:

Artist Submission Process:
We ask that all submissions be made by email to

Requirements include:

Images of your work.
Artist biography, education, gallery representation.
Collections, honors, awards, and media coverage.
Price list of work, including medium and dimensions.

Principle Gallery Charleston, SC

Things an artist can do

As an artist, the most important thing you can have is a website. A well-curated site can bring a lot of attention your way. There are so many affordable hosting platforms and website builders out there, it’s worth the time and investment. Forbes put together a list of 10 steps to creating a great website (specifically for small/independent businesses), click here to read the full article. Another really good resource would be Fine Art Studio Online (FASO) which has quickly grown to be the leading provider of professional artist websites. They offer affordable plans that can be paid monthly or annually.

Once you have your website up and running be sure to keep it updated. Make sure your most recent work is clearly presented on your site so galleries know what you’re currently working on. Also, this will serve as your digital provenance/catalogue raisonné so if anyone needs to track down or verify a work of yours it can be easily located.

Something that can go hand and hand with a website is a social media account. I understand social media isn’t for everyone, there are plenty of well-established artists that don’t use it at all. However, if it’s a realm you want to break into it’s a great resource to build a clientele and maintain constant contact with followers. You can do it yourself or if you have the means, hire a social media expert. You’d provide them with the content and they can handle the posts, captions, etc. If you do create a professional account be sure to link to your website, to build web traffic in multiple ways.

Photos! Take good photos of your art and/or seek out a professional photographer to ensure you capture the best images of your work. Once you have all your images use them to create a professional portfolio (preferably digital) to use when submitting your work and to keep proper records for yourself.

A major thing to consider is that the art world has shifted into the digital world. A lot of collectors are relying solely on online purchasing platforms and therefore are only perceiving photographs of art, not seeing it in the flesh. Meaning, if it’s a bad photograph there’s a good chance a collector will breeze right past while shopping.

Platforms such as Artsy only allow for high-resolution images so always be sure to send high-res to your gallery. We only use high-res images for Artsy and when requested from legitimate buyers. We understand that some people may be looking to print/blow up artwork in an attempt to get a free reproduction (without consent) so we only use low-resolution images during initial email contact and on our website.

It’s a partnership

It’s important to remember when working with a gallery that it is a collaborative effort. Artist and gallery are meant to work as a team therefore it’s important to meet one another halfway. Be sure you provide your gallery with all the information they need to properly promote your work: artist bio, title, dimensions, medium (be specific), price, year created, photographs, and whether it’s framed or unframed. Don’t expect the gallery to do all the leg work. Once a gallery has all necessary details then the team can begin pushing your work to clients, social media, the gallery website, newsletter, etc.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, there should always be an open line of communication. We encourage artists to ask questions and share any concerns. Our goal is to maintain strong and healthy partnerships.

Episode 57: Navigating Gallery Relationships

In October 2021, I was interviewed by artist and host of The Inspired Painter Podcast, Jessica Libor. We discussed how artists can stand out to galleries, how artists can both represent themselves in this digital age, maintain a healthy, supportive gallery relationship, what makes an artwork stand out, and much more. I’ve linked it below if you’re looking for a more in-depth discussion on this topic.

If you enjoyed this blog and want me to expand this topic please let me know! I want to post content that is valuable and can help artists thrive. Feel free to leave any suggestions, questions, or content requests in the comments.

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