Persistence. It can be the difference between remaining in the running and losing out to someone who is willing to follow up. At the same time, it can feel very uncomfortable to persist when you are trying to make a case for the exhibition of your work. Many people shy away fearing they will come off as too aggressive and put off the galleries they are courting.
While there is definitely a way to persist and a way not to, it’s usually better to err on the side of following up. Remember that you are far from the only artist vying for the attention of the people in question, they are busy and their focus is constantly shifting so while you may have them square in the front of your mind, chances are that someone they have never met who has reached out once isn’t going to stick in theirs very long.
Praxis Student Anne discovered first hand that persistence pays off. She didn’t leave things to chance once she sent off some samples of her work to a college gallery. In her own words:
“Progress about contacting college galleries. Last week I sent a gallery a pdf about my project that included images and text. Yesterday I called and left a voicemail. Today, she emailed back thanking me for my voicemail with an exclamation point! She thinks the work fits into their goals of showing work that connects to their programming and will bring it to her committee at the end of the semester. What’s my next step? Brainard Carey what do you suggest? Perhaps find out when the semester ends and call her then? Shall I email back something now? It’s pretty cool actually getting responses.”
Anne perfectly demonstrates how to proceed when contacting galleries. Her willingness to follow up achieved a positive response. She took things a step further:
“UPDATE. I decided to send a short email thanking her for considering the exhibit and asking if May is a good time to check back. Right away she replied saying yes! My take away: She has one less thing to remember to do so I am helping her. It’s brilliant and I am so glad I am learning this. Though I still have to talk down the voice in my head screaming don’t be a nuisance.”
Anne’s last statement speaks volumes to many who worry that they are pushing their luck. But when a gallery responds as the one in question did it is perfectly appropriate to follow up. As Anne rightly points out, she has now taken on the responsibility of circling back with the gallery at an agreed upon time taking one thing off the to do list at the other end and placing the ball firmly in her own court.
Praxis Center prides itself on giving our students the confidence to navigate situations like Anne’s. Our courses are designed with working artists in mind and tackle some of the most common stumbling blocks faced when trying to nurture an artistic career. Don’t let the fear of persistence stand in your way. Advocate and follow up and breathe life into the career your deserve.