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Artists: So you want a show in Los Angeles?

I called 100 art galleries throughout popular neighborhoods in Los Angeles – West Hollywood, Malibu, the Palisades, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Calabasas, Venice, Santa Monica, DTLA, etc. – and this is what I learned… 

At the current time there are close to three-hundred private galleries in the Los Angeles area, and there are more galleries that simply exist by virtue of their sales of drawings, prints, paintings and sculpture than in any other city in the western hemisphere, excepting only New York. 

At present, Los Angeles is absorbing the onset of several new exhibition, gallery, festival and exhibition venues. When viewed in the context of the continual expansion of local industry and accelerated population, one cannot fathom where the growth will stop. At the very least it may be said that the community manifests an incredible hunger for objects of aesthetic merit and it is absorbing them at an increasing rate. This is exciting, if you know how to leverage it as an up-and-coming or hopeful artist. 

Innovative and eager artists hoping to showcase artwork in any form or expression defined by the characteristics of any Los Angeles neighborhood have to be tenacious and really committed to the process of finding success as an artist. 

For this article and a complimentary look into the world of Los Angeles art, 100 accredited and reputable Los Angeles galleries were contacted to participate in conversations regarding how emerging artists might find success in such a competitive market, specifically for creatives looking to find their way to success in the city of angels. Out of those I reached out to, 33 responded with helpful insights to indulge my curiosities. 

Of the 33 that offered a response during our phone conversation, it was made pretty clear that submitting artwork via email – while an option with some galleries as can be seen in my spreadsheet tracker – might not be the best way to initiate a lucrative partnership. It is preferred among most galleries throughout the city that aspiring artists work their relevant network – it is a city that lives off of relationships and “who you know” – the art world is no different. 

So, what does this mean for those interested in showcasing their life’s work? Get out there – everywhere this beautiful, busy city allows you to – and hustle. Share your art at the Rose Bowl. At the Melrose Trading Post. At the Santa Monica Farmers Market. On the Venice Beach Boardwalk. At the Los Feliz Art Fair. There are endless opportunities once you open your eyes to them. 

When speaking to China Short of Regen Projects they added to that sentiment by encouraging artists to “attend gallery openings and events, come to the gallery and introduce yourself and don’t stop until you’re selling art where you want to sell art.”  

Go to local shows and bring extra business cards, zip drives with samples of your artistry, or memorable branded items like a paint brush with your phone number on it, or a swatch with a bright color and funny artist anecdote. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to follow up. Every connection you make while you network is an important one. Be it now, or in the future, your personal art community is the soft landing you’ll always be able to rely on. Build it and keep building it no matter your status in this world. 

Similar to what I learned in New York, gallery directors and curators that I spoke to encourage capitalizing on opportunities by embracing another art form – a curated, thoughtful and meaningful digital platform. The first place most consumers look when interested in learning more about a prospective purchase or for more information in general is online. 

That said, those I spoke with – local galleries like Subliminal Projects and ACCA Gallery – suggest an aesthetically pleasing website where artists host work samples, testimonials and recommendations of those familiar with their work, and links to a strong social media presence. This digital and online presence aids in catapulting an artist’s visibility offering a unique look into the process of creating an artist’s work. 

When I spoke with Scott Canty, a director at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, he revealed that a lot of art galleries in the area have evolving styles from year-to-year so to keep up with specific gallery trends and when one aligns with your vision, that’s the best time to initiate a relationship with the studio of interest. 

Again, similar to my experiences with the interviews I’ve already conducted among experts on the aspirational east coast city of New York, the majority of these gallery owners, gallery directors and gallery curators list on their website the artists that they are happy to exhibit and represent onsite. 

Many of these institutions post CV’s and work experience highlights of artists showcasing their major milestones through the burgeoning partnership. By studying these profiles, artists are well – equipped to present their own work and vision to the person that could be THAT person for them. 

As I’ve discussed, many galleries also host multiple exhibition openings throughout the year. Interested artists looking to foster a working relationship with a gallery are encouraged to attend exhibition openings and (on repeat!) network with the art directors and artists. 

Understanding the key demographics and targeted audiences of every pivotal gallery is another vital consideration for emerging artists hoping to ultimately be represented. 

Among the numerous galleries that I’ve spoken with, no two galleries will ever be the same. 

So, basically, get out there. Show off the work you’ve put so much time into and do it proudly. Leverage your connections. Take advantage of the opportunities you’ve manifested. You deserve the most colorful journey an artist can create. Never settle, always learn, always create. 

The sources for this article are listed below including my call list with emails and phone numbers. Are you interested in learning more about art happenings in other cities? Let me know, I’m ready to investigate and share. 


  1. Spreadsheet of calls I made to 100 galleries. Click here


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