You never know who will see your work and no opportunity to show is too small. As a gallery owner, I receive many emails every day from artists who want to know how to “have their work seen.” My advice, of course, is to submit to one of The Kiernan Gallery’s exhibitions. This may seem a bit self-serving, but let me explain why juried shows are a great way to gain exposure. While I can’t speak for other galleries with regards to their selection processes, I want to take some time to explain how our gallery’s shows are created while pointing out just how much attention you could garner from one show.
The submission process is, of course, the first step in the life of an exhibition. Since our shows are juried, the juror and the gallery director will obviously see your work. Images pique my interest frequently, which leads me to do an internet search for the artist to see if they have a website. I may even send that link along to someone I know who would be interested in their work. At this point three or more people may have seen your work before the selections for the exhibition have even been made. (As an aside: I don’t look at flickr accounts. The same can be said for many other people I know. If you are looking for a career in photography, a personal website is much more professional.)
As soon as the juror has made his or her selections, the results are posted on our website. Even though several of the images will only be displayed in the online gallery, I have received emails from people about work they have seen on the website and of course I put them in contact with the artist. Your art can garner a lot of interest even if it is not going to be displayed in the main gallery.
Next, the Juror’s Choice and Director’s Choice awards are announced. The winners gain even more exposure as they are profiled on our blog around the time that the exhibition opens. This gives them an opportunity to discuss their artistic processes and present some of their other work, as well as a link to their website (if they have one). Their winning images are also displayed first on the website and in the catalogue.
4. Show Catalogue
All the selected images are included in the exhibition catalogue. We put each catalogue on display in the main gallery when the show opens, and keep every one on file when the show closes, and nearly everyone who comes into the gallery looks through it at some point. In the past, jurors have purchased multiple copies to show their classes. There could be some very influential people seeing your art without your knowledge, or any extra work on your part. True story: an exhibiting artist had a copy of a catalogue on the coffee table in their studio. A prestigious photography curator happened to stop by, looked at the book, was very impressed, and wanted more information.
5. Gallery Exhibition
Finally, the exhibition goes up in the main gallery, which has a pretty steady flow of visitors for any given show. People frequently express interest in various artists and pieces, and as the gallery owner I like to do some research before the show opens. I often mention, in addition to the information about the piece itself, any buzz surrounding the artist when inquiries are made into their piece on display.
Many venues work very hard to promote their artists, which is why it is important to show your work whenever you can, no matter how big or how small. You simply never know the extent of exposure an opportunity might bring.