I CAME across a discussion on Facebook recently which began by questioning the role of art critics but soon developed into a question of how to get a gallery to take your work.

The contributors were all local artists and various posts seemed to hold the critic in fairly low esteem. Fancy that! They can console themselves that the role of the professional art critic, as we now know it, is diminishing anyway.

We are all critics: whether of our local team, or the food put in front of us. We share our opinions quite readily and are usually forthright about it. Unless we’re expected to criticise the team captain, or the cook in person, of course.

Now that we’re all online, everyone’s critiques are published.

There are feedback surveys with statistics to quantify precisely how the public has judged a product or service.

Soon there will be percentage scores for art exhibitions. Who will need a professional critic then?

To be reviewed, appraised and approved, you still need to get your work seen, so the Facebook discussion’s thread was entirely logical. How to get a gallery to take your work is an issue I’ve seen, to a certain extent, from both sides.

It would seem that the interests of the gallery and the artist are the same: sell some work and pay some bills, but this isn’t always appreciated.

Galleries are seen as rapacious monsters seeking to suck the starving artist dry and it’s forgotten that they have significant costs to pay without even opening the doors.

Many artists approach galleries without considering what, if anything, they have to offer. It’s fair to be realistic. How much work might you sell, and at what prices? Do you have any sales history to back up your claims?

Having work in a gallery is no guarantee of success, getting people there is vital. A gallery might want to know how the artist was planning to help publicise his or her own show.

A friend is building quite a successful career as a landscape artist. In the last three or four years I have watched his prices climb steadily higher and they now stand at about £3,000 for a medium-sized canvas.

He is professional in his approach and his work involves two quite different strands. He paints and spends all other available time getting to know people who might buy his work.

Follow this example and ensure your presentation is lucid and the images top quality. Aim to establish a partnership with a gallery, and wWhen you can honestly say a gallery will benefit from your involvement, people will start to listen.

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