Table of Contents » Chapter 9 : Exhibitions & Selling » Chapter 9 : Polishing Your Image

Chapter 9 : Polishing Your Image

Thoughts from Leigh Taylor Michelson
Executive Director, Clay Art Center

What are your goals as an artist/potter?

It is important for you to know what it is you really want to do with yourself. Sell Pots/Artwork?

  • Achieve gallery representation?
  • Gain National exposure?
  • Have solo shows?
  • Polish your image?
  • Make better work?

Invest in professional photography of your work, or learn how to take “professional quality” images yourself.

Look for examples of “good” photography for industry standards in professional publications such as Ceramics Art & Perception and Ceramics Monthly.

  • Who to go to – ask other artists in your area who they use to photograph their work (but be sure they have good images first)
  • Know your digital terms! Know the difference between low resolution and high resolution, jpeg and tif, etc. This knowledge will really help you out.

Take the time write an artist statement & keep an updated resume.

  • Guidelines for Artist Resume – look at College Art Association website
    Artist statement – 1-3 paragraphs on artwork content, inspiration, process, etc.

Get yourself out there.

Apply to national juried exhibitions…. again and again

A Foot in the Door:

taking the fear out of approaching galleries

  • Pick up the October Ceramics Monthly. The gallery guide will help you know who is out there.
  • Apply for solo shows – several organizations put out a call for proposals
  • Write an article about your work, or solicit a writer to write one
  • Submit images for Lark Books, etc

Create a website:

  • There are so many ways to create your own website for a reasonable price. I use otherpeoplespixels.com for my personal website. There are lots of others out there that make it really easy for you to create and manage your own website. It is such the thing to do now, that I always wonder why an artist DOESN’T have a website. It is frustrating when I go looking for an artist, and they don’t have a website! The easier you make it for folks to find you, the easier you make it for you to succeed.

Approach galleries for representation/exhibitions:

  • There are a lot of ways to approach a gallery or art center for exhibiting your work. But the best way, at least for me, is to first introduce yourself. If an artist takes the time to email me, call me or visit me, and ask me first if they can show me their work, or how they can exhibit with us, then I have the opportunity to let them know what I am looking for and how it would be best for them to show me their work. I can let them know HOW to apply for an exhibit, or HOW to be considered for our Shop. I find that if I get a blanket email from artist, with their website address, that while I might look, I don’t take the same amount of time, and often look and then move on. I know that it is a mass email, and the artists intentions are not at all clear. What does this artist want? If he/she just wants me to look at their website, then that may or may not happen. If I know the artist is following the procedure for applying for an exhibition, or specifically expressing their interest in CAC, I would handle that email in a completely different way. I actually consider it, file it, and bring it forward to my gallery committee. That individualized attention really makes a difference.
  • Another really important thing is to look for a gallery whose aesthetic matches your own. Many commercial galleries, for instance, have a style or a genre. Look at the artists they already represent. Would your work be a fit? A gallery’s list of artists usually matches a gallery’s collector base. If a gallery does not see their patrons buying your work, then it is less likely they will take you on. So knowing who you are approaching and why is paramount. If you think your work is the right fit, then take the time to call or email, as stated above, and clearly state your intentions and see if they are even looking for new artists. This attention to detail will not be missed.