Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Approaching Galleries - Part 1

This is the first part inmy new series about approaching galleries and stockists which I've put together in response to a call -out for new blog topics. I thought I would ask a few of my stockists what their thoughts were on the topic in the hope it will give you some good practice points and tips and you can add some more names to your list of stockists this year.

First up I asked the lovely Tracey Benton from Atelier Gallery in Barnstaple if she would mind answering a few questions. Tracey got in touch with me a few years ago when I was only just dipping my toe into the creative world and she has been stocking my work ever since. She very kindly has shared her thoughts with us below.

Do you prefer to find new artists/designers yourself or do you like them to contact you?

It's a mix of both. I am more than happy for artists to approach me. It's really important that for any gallery you would like to approach, you take time to check that your style of work fits with that of the gallery. So if it's a craft gallery like mine, don't expect me to be excited about your latest oil painting - no matter how brilliant it is. I'm not overly keen on artists popping into the gallery unannounced especially if I have customers. It's best to make an appointment or to ask about the submissions process. And absolutely, definitely don't have a huff if a gallery isn't interested in your work - it could be for any number of reasons; perhaps you've not done your homework and checked that your work is the right fit, perhaps they already have some similar work or they may have taken on several new artists and don't have capacity for more.

How do you prefer to be approached by new designers?

I prefer to be contacted by email in the first instance, with up to 3 photos information about the work and the artist and a link to the website. You wouldn't believe how many emails I get from makers saying 'here's my website, take a look at my work and see if you like it'. Yes that is literally all they say and I'm afraid that these just go straight into my trash folder. If an artist has taken their time to do their research and write a polite enquiry then I will almost always write back - except if it's super busy. It's not a good time to approach galleries in the run up to Christmas.

What kind of information would you hope to gain when considering stocking new work?

Things that I need to know are trade/RRP and that you understand the rudiments of SOR (most galleries work this way). Give an indication of delivery times and lead times for re-orders. Some ceramicists for example will be upfront and say that they can't deliver for 6 weeks as work is made to order. I also want to know if there are other stockists in area.

What kind of factors would influence your decision about whether to stock new work?

If the work fits with the style of the gallery and if the price also sits well - you don't want something that looks expensive or overly cheap compared to the rest of the work. If the work is new, interesting, unique and plugs a gap that's always a bonus. Also if the maker seems professional to work with, that's really important as it's annoying if customer wants a commission and the maker just faffs about or doesn't deliver when they say they're going to deliver - if there's a hold up, be up front and let the gallery know immediately. And always send a delivery note with prices on as it looks professional and is a massive help to the gallery.

What is the most novel kind of way someone has got you to notice them or their work?

In all honesty I'm more likely to be bowled over by someone's work than the method that they use to contact me. It's lovely if a maker sends a small sample but I just feel guilty if they've gone to that trouble and the work is just not right for here. I'd start with an email in the first instance - let your work do the talking.

Thanks for taking part in my new blog series Tracey, it's always great to hear from someone 'in the know'. If you want to find out what's going on down in Atelier in Barnstaple you can check out the website here or you can ;like' Atelier's Facebook page here.


  1. Hope this info helps your readers - I've posted a wee link on the Atelier facebook page too as it's useful info for people thinking about approaching this gallery! Tracey x

  2. That's great advice Tracey. Hope it helps other artists and makers. One point I would add would be to not try and overstock your local area. Stretch yourself by approaching suitable stockists in different areas, not just wherever's closest.

    1. Great advice Sue.

      If anyone is thinking of approaching Ferrers Gallery we have more information on our website -

      For me it's about making an impression - great work professionally and creatively presented will always capture my attention, as yours did when I first mentored you and now we have your work on show in our Monochrome exhibition and our customers are loving it too. Let's hope this information helps others follow in your footsteps.

  3. This is really great Sue! Thanks : )

  4. Lovely post, thanks so much for sharing! It's fantastic to get to hear from someone who works 'behind the scenes'. Just to clarify, by 'SOR' Tracey is referring to 'Sale or Return' right?

  5. This is really useful Sue, thank you! Some interesting points that I hadn't considered...

  6. Fabulous article full of great tips for new and established crafters - can't wait for the next in the series!

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  8. I'm so pleased that you have enjoyed reading the first blog post in this new series. Watch out for more over the next couple of weeks, and I'll also be sharing a template of what worked well for me

  9. Really helpful article, will take the advice on board, thank you!

  10. Nice to know from the shop/gallery's point of view. Thanks.

  11. Really useful info and well put together - thanks Sue


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