Artists often ask through email if we'd be interested in representing their work. My response is usually something like this...
I’m not wanting to take on new artists unless their work is really incredible and even then I would want to know them personally and I would desire they be present and occasionally involved at the gallery.
That being said, here are my thoughts on finding representation and selling art.
Let’s start by talking about creativity. We are all dealt a hand in life. I think of creativity as looking at the hand you’ve been dealt -- looking at your skills, your interests, your relationships, your opportunities -- and seeing if you can arrange your hand or even reshuffle the deck. Reaching out to Montana Gallery might be one way to try to reshuffle the hand, but most likely, it’s not your best option.
If I think about trying to do business with a gallery I’ve only ever come into contact with through the internet, and then weigh the possibility of working with them versus working with a gallery, or bank, or restaurant, or whatever institution I already have some real life familiarity with, the choice between the two becomes clear. Therefore, my question to artists that I’ve never met before and that are seeking representation with the gallery, and that live far distances from Billings is: Have you explored all the options close to you? And, are there other ways you could make money as an artist? For instance, many full-time artists teach. I teach sip and paint classes.
In art, most sales happen because there is a story behind the painting. Even if I sell a painting to a tourist passing through that has never interacted with me or the artists I represent, there is still a story being told, and that is: ‘I like to collect art from the places I visit.’ A different story is told when someone decides to buy a Daniel Keys original. Usually, they're long familiar with him and his work. They’ve seen his work and read about him in articles for years. They’ve collected the magazines his work has graced the cover of. They have his DVD’s. They’ve followed him on social media, and perhaps you’re thinking, “Yeah, Tyler, but that’s Daniel Keys. I don’t have that kind of social media following and magazines calling me up every three months to do an article on me.” Well, neither do I. However, it is worth noting that many of Daniel’s collectors have shook his hand, or have taken classes from him. Also, before he was ever noticed by magazine editors Daniel sold his work at outdoor art fairs. This leads me to my main point: Real life interactions really matter.
Most of my paintings are bought by people I have met and gotten to know. Here’s what’s really cool about this -- when a person owns one of my paintings and has it on their wall, they’re not just seeing the painting. They’re also thinking about who I am to them, and who they are to me. When my friend Ryan looks at the painting he owns of mine, he remembers the times I helped him paint the walls of his workplace, and the times he helped me rip out the carpet in the gallery. Similarly, when I have a drink from Ebon Coffee Collective, which is connected to the gallery, I’m not only experiencing a great cup of coffee, but also am reminded of who Lenny and Jaxi (Ebon owners) are in my life. When I listen to my friends Ryan, and Parker, and Grant through my car stereo, I’m reflecting on the good times we’ve all had together.
In conclusion, my two questions are: have you explored all the options already around you? And: what is the story people tell themselves and others about you and your art? Finally, enjoy life, listen to and draw out the stories of others, and share with those around you your stories--whether that’s through paint, words, or music.
Thanks for reading,