How To Get an Exhibition in the Big City When You’re a Nobody

Getting your artwork in front of the right eyes isn’t an easy task.

There’s a crazy concentration of artists, buyers, sellers, collectors, and galleries in big cities like New York and London. They’re practically bursting at the seams with creativity. The opportunity as an artist is incredible but these major cities also attract the best of the best. In other words, your competition is tough. Really tough.

We talked to six successful artists, curators, and collectors to get their top tips for getting your foot in the door with galleries in major cities.

If you don’t buy a ticket you’ll never win the lotto

A few months ago, I chatted with an artist named Cande Argiluar (amazing guy, doing amazing cross-cultural work). He was busy preparing for his first exhibition in New York. His story was almost a depressing one — for the few weeks before getting the good news from New York, he was thinking of giving up on exhibiting altogether.

But he got the call. And now he’s so busy painting, creating, and exhibiting, that he couldn’t even find the time to give me a quick quote for this article!

Point is, getting into a gallery is tough. But if you get scared and don’t jump into the fray, you’ll never make it.

Artist Cande Argiluar standing by his piece “Ha Ha Ha”

Every day a man begged God to win the lottery. But he stayed poor until he died. Soon he accused God, “I begged every single day to win the lottery, but you never helped me!” and God replied somewhat exasperated, “You never bought a ticket.”

How to start talking to gallery owners and curators

I’ve spoken to artists and curators, and they all say the same thing. Developing a personal relationship with gallery owners or curators is the best way to get your work on the wall.

UK artist and curator Simon Tarrant has curated exhibitions at the Tower of London, held successful pop-up exhibitions, and has been reviewed by the BBC and the New York Post Here’s his advice.

“It’s about researching if your work fits with the profile of the gallery, however from personal experience I have had most success when creating my own pop-up exhibitions in unusual places.”

But what about getting your work into bigger exhibitions?

“All galleries are hard to get in to and invariably it comes down to cultivating relationships with curators and jumping on as many competition and group exhibition opportunities as possible. Curator Space is an excellent platform to find out about new exhibition opportunities.”

Simon Tarrant pictured with Debbie Moore in front of his artwork “Pineapples”

And if you don’t actually live in the big city? There are plenty of ways you can still create a personal connection with gallery owners, and in some cases, bypass that need entirely. Simon’s first big win was through applying for a group show.

“I got into my first big gallery, the Royal Academy of Art by applying for the Summer Exhibition. With a rotating committee each year it’s a bit of a lottery, but nothing ventured nothing gained. More often than not it [applying to galleries] is as part of a group show or charity fundraising exhibition. For example I will be participating as part of Art for Youth UK, which takes place at the Mall Galleries from 11–13 December.”

Participating in charity events can be a way to put your career on the fast track. It shows that your art has a market (people will buy it), puts your name out there, and according to an artist we interviewed, can generate lots of commissions. Click here to get all the details.

Here’s some parting advice from Simon.

“It’s all about personal contact and recommendation — pursuing each and every opportunity — and demonstrating a track record of exhibitions and a decent mailing list. Also a genuine commitment to marketing, social media and developing a sales strategy.”

Know what type of portfolio to use when

Getting your portfolio right can be a tough task. That’s why we’ve created an entire post dedicated to it. In a nutshell, just one version of your portfolio isn’t going to cut it.

If you’re applying by sending in a physical portfolio (a technique many artists use), you might actually be wasting your time.

“It’s a challenging process, especially as so many galleries use relatively unqualified interns to assess portfolios.” Simon Tarrant

In some cases, curators are looking to receive a specific submission centered around a theme.

“When I put out a call for submissions, I ask for artists to submit up to three pieces. What I prefer to see from artists is a cohesive grouping because I like to give each artist their own section of wall space. When I get submissions that do not relate well to one another either in technique, subject, or point of view it’s difficult for me to understand what the artist is trying to say. I like to hang pieces that are immediately recognizable for that individual artist.”
— Joseph Abbati, Curator for Scott Weiber’s California State Senate Office

Joseph Abbati pictured next to one of his “Linemen” series

Here are some must-haves for your portfolio toolbox:

  1. An offline folder with hi-res photos of your art on your phone or tablet
  2. An online gallery/dedicated portfolio on an app like D Emptyspace
  3. An up-to-date website with hi-res images of your work and more detailed descriptions
  4. Small printed samples of your work that you can carry around with you (some artist laminate these and put them on a little ring binder)
  5. Bigger prints to show art galleries (either in person or via mail)

The key to a good portfolio is to “Keep it simple,” as pro fashion and portrait photographer Andrew McMeekin says.

“Don’t go on about yourself and about how you were a photographer when you were four and your grandma bought you your first camera. No one is vaguely interested in that story. If you check some statistics on websites, you’ve only got about 3 lines before someone gets bored and switches the page. So make sure your vision and portfolio is very easy to navigate.”
— Andrew McMeekin, Photographer

Andrew McMeekin pictured on the Salt Flats of Bolivia

Start Collaborating with Other Artists

Collaboration is a no-brainer. When you work with another artist, or even with a group of artists, you instantly get a group of people with different strengths and resources working towards a singular goal.

It’s a powerful thing.

Street artist Mohammed Ali regularly collaborates with painters, musicians, and other creatives for his live painting shows. He’s got some interesting criteria when choosing to work with someone or not.

“The artists I collaborate with have to not only be good artists, but also good people. If you’re a basic asshole with a big ego, I can’t work with you. I can’t connect with you. I want someone who’s gonna share positivity. Just be respectful and nice.” — Mohammed Ali

When looking to collaborate with people, make sure you find artists who compliment your personality type, and who are just as passionate as you are.

Street artist Mohammed Ali (Aerosol)

Blend creative passion with business-sense

Burnout is real. If you overwhelm yourself with an endless list of tasks and a plan that you never stick to, you might start resenting your work. The solution to this? Build a strategy that supports you in your pursuits.

Prolific painter Ricky Joyce (who’s aiming to get into the big New York galleries soon) gives some parting sage advice, “To continuously set up exhibits and show your face takes a lot of time and money. It’s important to make sure exhibits are worthwhile for you financially and time-wise. Always make sure they are a good fit for your art practice.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

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New Features: Add and Customize Galleries, Improved Sharing, Featured Galleries

New Features: Add and Customize Galleries, Improved Sharing, Featured Galleries

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

You asked and we listened! Since we launched D Emptyspace about three weeks ago, artists, photographers, and art lovers have sent us dozens of messages.

Two things are clear: You’re excited about D Emptyspace and you want it to be even better.

So this week we’ve rolled out several new updates to the app that address the top three things you asked for: The ability to customize your galleries, improvements to sharing galleries and featured galleries to help you discover new artists.

Add, Delete, and Customize Your Galleries

When D Emptyspace launched, everyone got three galleries with three walls. We got so many emails from people asking for more galleries or different configurations that we knew we had to move this to the top of our to-do list.

Here’s what we’ve changed. New members will get one default gallery (white with 3 walls). You can add two more galleries, for a total of three. You can select the number of walls in your new galleries (3, 5, or 8), along with the color of the space (minimalist white, neutral beige or dramatic dark).

Select the number of walls in your new gallery.
Set the color theme for your new gallery.

Want to delete one of your old galleries and make a new one with a different number of walls or a different color? For now, you’ll find delete button on the gallery statement page. We’ll find a more convenient spot for it soon.

We know that some of you want more than three galleries. Hold tight! We’ll have something for you soon.

Improved Sharing

We thought we had the perfect solution for sharing. Let people take a screenshot of a gallery, automatically generate an invitation link, and let people share it using the phone’s own sharing menu. As it turns out, we created a totally hidden feature that only about 10% of our members found on their own!

With our latest update, we’ve done something radical and added an actual share button!

From any gallery, just tap the statement button to enter the gallery statement page.

You’ll find the share button conveniently located right there!

For fans of the screenshot method of sharing, don’t despair. That one still works too!

Featured Galleries

Randomly finding new artists with the shuffle button or searching for specific usernames are good ways to find new people on D Emptyspace, but what about the artwork that really stands out?

Now, when you tap the search button (magnifying glass) in the tap bar at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a series of featured galleries curated by our team.

Tap any of them to be amazed. (If you want to see more from the same artist, tap their handle at the top of the screen to visit their profile.)

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download


How to move photos of your art from computer to iPhone

How to move photos of your art from computer to iPhone

Taking great photos of your art is a necessity if you want to share them online. But with so many different methods, editing apps, and device types out there, it’s easy to get confused with the technicalities of sharing images.

Here are the fastest and easiest ways to transfer your art from your Mac or Windows PC to your iPhone, so that you can use them in the D Emptyspace galleries you curate.

How to transfer images from your computer to your iPhone wirelessly.

While it’s still possible to plug in a cable and download media from your computer to your iPhone, it’s probably not necessary if you are connected to the internet.

If you are using Adobe’s Creative Cloud products (like Lightroom and Photoshop) to edit your photographs, you can easily set up automatic syncing that shares your images across all your signed-in devices (particularly useful if you’re juggling between a desktop, laptop, and iPhone).

All methods, unless otherwise stated, can be used to transfer from a Windows computer or a Mac to an iPhone.

Lightroom CC (recommended method)

NOTE: You need to have Lightroom CC installed on both your devices. If you are using Lightroom classic, you will need to export your photos and transfer them using one of the methods below.

Step 1:

In the “Library” section, go to the “Identity Plate” and click it to open the “Activity Center.” Enable syncing by clicking “Start”. (make sure this option is active on both devices).

Step 2:

Open the “Collections” panel and choose which collections get synced.

Step 3:

On your iPhone, you can now open your synced collections on the Lightroom CC app. Just download them to your device to prepare for upload to D Emptyspace.

Photoshop CC (and other Creative Cloud users)

If you are using Adobe’s Creative Cloud, there is a shared folder you can use to transfer your images.

Step 1:

Export your images from Photoshop to JPEG format.

Step 2:

Locate the Creative Cloud folder on your computer (available both on Mac and Windows) and move the images you want to that folder.

Step 3:

Sign into Creative Cloud on Mobile to access your images and press the download button to save the images to your device. Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Step 4:

On your iPhone, you can now upload your saved photos to D Emptyspace from your gallery.

AirDrop (only for iPhone and Mac users)

This method will only work if you are using a Mac computer. AirDrop is only available on Apple devices.

Step 1:

Save your photos from the image editing software of your choice to JPEG file format.

Step 2:

Locate and select your image, right click, select share, then select AirDrop.

Step 3:

On your iPhone, navigate to the iDrop app to see your images. Photos should be automatically added to your photos app.

Step 4:

You can now upload your photos to D Emptyspace.

Google Drive

NOTE: If you prefer Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive the process is essentially the same as for Google Drive, just using different apps.

Step 1:

Install and sign into Google Drive on both your computer (or laptop) and your iPhone.

Step 2:

From your computer, drag and drop your photographs into Google Drive.

Step 3:

From your iPhone, open the Google Drive app and select the photos you want (select multiples by long pressing) and press the download button (looks like a downwards arrow).

Step 4:

When you add a photo in the D Emptyspace app, your downloaded photos should appear in your “Recently added” folder.

How to curate your gallery online

Customize your gallery on D Emptyspace

Once you’ve moved your photos from your computer to your phone, you’re ready to start using them in D Emptyspace galleries. If you need tips on how to curate amazing galleries, some of the articles and interviews linked below may come in handy:

Need some help getting started with D Emptyspace or just wondering at this point “What the heck in D Emptyspace, anyway?” Here’s our Quickstart Guide.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download