I tend to review gallery submissions in groups (read: either when I have a chunk of spare time to devote to it or when they have piled to a critical mass on my desk and can no longer be ignored). Since I was taking a five hour flight to Oregon to lead a photographic retreat all about positioning yourself in the best way to get the most impactful exposure for your work, I figured it was a good time to dig in. I recently wrote this post on how to submit to a gallery (and how not to), so all of these do's and don'ts were already top of mind when I opened the first package. Oh horror. My biggest pet peeve - an unmarked disc in a cardboard mailer. What was most striking though was that of all the submissions I reviewed on that flight, the one that was by far the least impressive in presentation (no note, no intro letter on paper or on the disc, a CV that looked and read like a student's, and just three jpegs with no explanation or artist statement) was from the most experienced person (a professor at an arts university).
Another person sent in a submission and apologized at the top of his CV for not having a gallery-worthy CV. If you hear nothing else, hear this - it's all in the positioning. First off, he had some solid exhibition experience. Second, that is not the end-all, be-all. If you are new to the game, spin that in your favor. You are a new discovery! Strong work, ripe for the picking!
Here is an example of how spin can be your best friend:
The other day I asked my son (he's eight years old) to feed the dogs. He says, "but mom, I fed the dogs yesterday". I say, "Jonah - I am giving you an exclusive opportunity to feed the dogs. I haven't asked anyone else - just you. Feeding the dogs is the most fun thing to do." He says, "but I don't think feeding the dogs is very fun". And I say, "Jonah, it's so fun. I think you may be doing it wrong." He says, "Ok, I'll try again".
There you have it folks.
But back to the first impression (no unmarked discs in cardboard mailers!!), here is a submission that impressed me before I even saw the work:
Great logo (that fits the character of the work), intro letter, awesome branded cd envelope, and a postcard with her signature image on it. I had a solid vibe of the work and a great impression of her as a professional, committed artist before I even put the disc in my computer. We have a call set up for next week.
And that's how to submit to a gallery!
Looking for help getting a submission packet together? Read more here.