Tag Archives: portfolio

Juried Shows

I see a lot of questions regarding juried art exhibitions- to enter or not to enter, and what to enter, and which ones to enter…  I thought I’d give my two cents on the issue.  Personally, I like them and think they can be a great opportunity, as long as you do your homework.

Be choosey.  If it’s a show in the middle of nowhere and juried by someone you’ve never heard of, pass it up.  Focus your efforts on the shows that matter most to you.

That said, if you are just starting out and need to build up some exhibition experience, it may be worthwhile as long as you are spending little to nothing on entry fees or shipping.

Where is the exhibit being held?  Look for a good venue, perhaps a space you’ve been interested in showing or maybe it’s a particular city of interest.

Who is the juror?  Is it someone you’ve been wanting to meet or you admire their work?

What are the fees?  Some juried shows have outrageous fees or some have high fees and require a high commission on top of that.  Look for those that strike a balance between fees and commission rates, if there is one.

Is the work insured?  If the venue does not automatically insure the work, you probably shouldn’t enter.  Good venues have insurance.  It’s just good business.

Shipping?  This will kill it for some people, but if you want to show your work, you’re going to have to pay shipping.  Find the safest, most economical way to ship your work.  This will take some research and will be different for everyone depending on how you pack it and what you pack, your location, and the shipping carrier, but once you determine this, you can use that info for all other aspects of your art business.

Stay away from vanity galleries.  I can’t stress this one enough.  Some vanity galleries hold “competitions” and will look for a way to sucker you in to paying them thousands of dollars for your own solo exhibition.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Focus on galleries and venues with solid reputations- yes, this means it will be harder to get in and the competition will be fierce, but they are legit.

Presentation is everything.  Make sure you follow all directions, dot your i’s and cross your t’s.  Submit your best work, make sure that if there is more than one entry, all works are consistent in style, technique, and content.  Remember, the juror is seeing this out of context- they don’t know the background behind the art.  What you are submitting needs to make sense to someone just getting a small peek inside your world.

Follow up.  If you get into a show or better yet, win an award, be sure to send out press releases to the local media.  There certainly isn’t enough art in the news, so take the opportunity to get your work featured.



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What It Takes

I wanted to take a moment to discuss some concerns that I hear repeatedly amongst artist friends and online.  If you are reading this post, then more than likely you are an artist or maybe an art enthusiast.  Some of you may have embarked upon making a career of your art while others are afraid to do so for various reasons.  And of the ones that are currently working on their art careers, you may find yourselves discouraged at times or frustrated that things are not going as planned.  So what do you do about it?  Well, I am here to say that first of all, don’t give up.  And don’t be scared, or discouraged, or angry, or sad, or frustrated, etc., etc., etc.  This is a subjective business and not everyone will feel that your work suits their gallery or their living rooms.  And that’s okay.

Let’s face it.  This career is not for sissies.  But if you love your art, which I’m sure you do, then the other stuff won’t really matter.  Take pride in your work and take pride in all that you have accomplished.  Even if you’re just starting out, you have a lot to be proud of just in taking the first step to starting your career.  Shockingly enough, most people do not take those first steps (and that’s including those that are not even artists).  It takes guts to make the first move.  You’re getting out of your comfort zone.  And even once you are well into your career, you will find that you still have to shake things up and get out of your comfort zone again and again.  As the stakes get higher, you need to do more as well as reach more.  But that’s okay because you love what you do.

Aside from loving your work, you have to be consistent.  That is the one thing that I see so many artists drop the ball on.  Consistency is key.  You can’t expect to accomplish everything overnight.  You will have to slowly build and take each step towards building your exhibition experience, your portfolio, your sales, your awards, etc.  And just because you accomplish one goal, doesn’t mean you can stop.  You have to keep on plugging away at your career.  You can’t just coast or rest on your laurels.  You’ll need to have new work to show, you’ll need to expand to other cities, other states, other countries even.  You’ll need to keep moving.  How many bands can you think of that were one-hit wonders?  How many actors can you think of that were popular and then seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth?  You may find it hard to even think of examples but once you do, you’ll be thinking, “oh yeah… whatever happened to…?”  Don’t be one of those cases.  You are not a flash in the pan.  You’re serious about your career and you are here to stay.

The good news is it’s not about luck!  Sure, sometimes you may happen to be in the right place at the right time, but that won’t be often.  And even if it does happen, it won’t necessarily make your career.  Even for the positive things that happen in your career, if it wasn’t directly related to your doing, if you trace it back, you will probably find that it was thanks to one of the “seeds” you planted in the first place.  You don’t need to buy a Magic 8 ball or get a tarot reading.  Just keep putting yourself out there, creating more, improving as much as possible, marketing, networking, exhibiting, etc.  You don’t need luck- luck is hard to get anyway.  Consistency is easy enough to do and is a sure bet.

Stay strong, be consistent, and be professional.  The rest will follow.



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Promotional Materials

With the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, I’ve found that many artists rely upon these as tools to promote their art.  While this is great, there are also many other ways to get the word out.  In addition, many are tangible items that are especially valued given today’s internet-crazed society.  Turns out, if it’s a card or a handwritten note, people tend to pay more attention as opposed to something that can go away with the push of a delete button.  So here is a list of materials that I rely upon as well as others:

Business cards: These are the tried-and-true promotional tool for artists.  You can get cards printed up quickly and rather cheaply thanks to the multitude of online printing companies.  I feature my logo in addition to my contact information, including my website.  You may also want to include social media links where people can find your work.

Brochures: Great concise way to present a sample of your portfolio as well as your biography or even parts of your resume.  According to some surveys, galleries and collectors respond well to these due to the quick introduction to you and your work.

Postcards: Basically a combination of the business card and brochure in that you can put an image or images or one side and your information on the other.  Or even put images on both sides, depending on how much you would like to spend.  There are many options for these.  I like to send one out every quarter to announce new work or an upcoming exhibit.  Added benefit: they can be handed out without the worry of being lost in one’s wallet or purse as would a business card.

Websites: Many artists still don’t have a website and some even feel that they don’t need one since they are on Facebook, etc.  Not true.  While social media sites do help, you want your website to rank high on the web, not Facebook.  When your name stands out, it will direct traffic to your site, your available works, your shopping cart, etc.  Still not convinced?  According to The Internet & Marketing Report, your Facebook Fan Page is not enough because of EdgeRank, Facebook’s algorithm for determining which updates show up in a user’s news feed.  It filters out about 99% of content from friends/businesses. Yikes.

Portfolios: Just the word portfolio makes me think of the days when I was in school, lugging around one of those giant black portfolios full of my work.  However, there are some better options.  For a digital version, you can put all of your images on CD.  This is great to hand out to anyone and everyone.  Be sure to get the printable kind so that you can put your info on the front just as you would on your business card.  Don’t use the sticker labels.

For a more traditional approach, you can make high-quality printouts of your work on photo paper and include them in a nice presentation book with clear sleeves for inserting photos.  Also include your resume in the front as well as your contact information.  I recommend featuring 8-12 of your best images.  You can get a standard 8″ x 11″ book or even make a small postcard sized book to carry with you at all times.

Note Cards: Whether it’s a thank you card or a handwritten message, cards are a great way to stay in touch with those that buy your work or put on an exhibit for you.  The ultimate purpose of these is to show gratitude, but having your work or name on the front is a nice reminder.

Everyday items: Some artists put their work on useful items which they sell for some additional income.  Although, there would be nothing wrong with giving these items away as well in order to promote one’s work.  You could create an item with one or several images of your work, as well as including your name and website.  Examples include stickers, bumper stickers, magnets, pens, mugs, calendars, t-shirts, hats, and bookmarks.

No one idea is better than the other, so I would not say that you should rely upon some promotional tools more so than others.  Each serves a purpose and reach people in different ways, which is exactly what you need to broaden your audience.  Therefore, I strongly advise anyone to adopt all of these strategies mentioned.  That can be tough if you are on a limited budget, but as mentioned earlier, there are many competitive printing companies online that can help for very little cost.  Also look into graphic designers (or recent design grads) in your area that can work out a fair deal.  Even trading art may be an option to fund your business.  Just be sure to check out their portfolio to see if they are a good fit for your needs.


For more information on my upcoming exhibitions, interviews, etc. sign up for my newsletter (or that postcard I mentioned above!) at http://www.amyguidry.com/contact.html

Approaching a Gallery (in a few easy steps)

Amy Guidry's painting "Food or Pet? How Do You Decide", Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX
Amy Guidry's painting "Food or Pet? How Do You Decide", Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX

First, check out galleries that you think may like your work. You should never just blindly send out your portfolio, resume, what have you to a gallery without determining if they’re the right fit. And this should go without saying, but be sure that they are a gallery! Attend openings, meet curators, dealers, gallery owners and directors. If you can’t physically make it to a gallery, at the very least, you should check out their space online. Get to know the artists that they show. Can you see your work fitting in with a group exhibit of these artists?

Once you’ve determined which gallery or galleries you are interested in, you should prepare your presentation. These days, email is so common (sometimes it’s preferred) that I think it is okay to submit your work via email. However, if a gallery has a submissions policy, be sure to abide by that. If not, they’ll toss your work in the trash. If the submissions policy is not a clearly stated link on their website, try looking under the Contact Us page. If there is absolutely no information, contact the gallery for their guidelines.

Whether you submit your work via email or postal mail, be sure that your presentation is professional. First, get the name of the person you need to contact. Whether it’s the director, the curator, or the manager, find out their name. I know from personal experience, many just blindly send an email without even acknowledging my name. Why would I want to show their work (again, I’m not a gallery, but let’s pretend for a second) if they don’t even know who I am? So find out their name. Google it, ask someone, or contact the gallery itself- just find out!

The rest is easy. This is where you should put together your bio and/or resume, portfolio, and any other relevant information. You should have all of these at your fingertips already, but if not, now is the time to start. Make sure that all of your information and images are up to date. And be sure to spell check. It’s the little things that matter, so be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

If you send your information via email, be sure to use small image files. If you load down their inbox, they won’t be happy or they may not even receive your information at all. It could bounce or end up in a spam filter. So keep it small- 4MB total is best.

Sounds simple, and it really is if you keep everything up to date. Again, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. www.AmyGuidry.com

How to Be an Art Star 2.0

Recognize this blouse?  Answer at www.AmyGuidry.comOkay, that may be misleading since this is not the second edition, but a second time around for this class. For those of you who are not familiar with my Art Marketing class from last fall, this is your opportunity to to take part. As part of Frederick l’Ecole des Arts in Arnaudville, LA, I will be teaching another Art Marketing and Self-Promotion course. The first class was quite a success and a great, interactive opportunity to get together with aritists and gallery owners. In addition to my course outline, we had a group session covering individual questions and sharing ideas.

So if you missed out the first time, or are new to this blog and will be in the area, please sign up for Art Marketing and Self-Promotion. The class will be May 2nd (a Saturday) from 10AM-12Noon. Of course we did stay late last time because people had lots of questions and ideas to share, but if you need to leave at noon, feel free to do so.

To give you an idea of what the class is about, here is a general course outline. Overview: Risk assessment; getting out of your comfort zone. Changing your mindset. Goal-setting. Portfolio Development. Gallery submissions and approaching galleries. Alternative exhibition opportunities and juried shows. Marketing Materials. Pricing. Sales. Some of the additional topics discussed included shipping work, Ebay, vanity galleries (just stay away- that’s a free tip you can get from me right now!), and what else, but blogging, of course.

Some of these are very basic principles, and some of it boils down to good old-fashioned common sense, but for many artists, their expertise is in their medium and not in marketing. Unfortunately marketing is not a course requirement when getting your art degree, and quite frankly, it’s just plain scary to people (not just artists!). In addition, to succeed at ANYthing requires goals, planning, and organization. All skills that most people don’t think of or skip when trying to succeed at anything. How many people do you know who blame things on bad luck or lack of luck? Or think the only way they can do what they truly love is if they “win the lottery?” I can think of many.

Okay, ready to sign up yet? Go to http://frederickarts.homestead.com/Classes.html to register for Art Marketing and Self-Promotion. Sign up early to ensure your spot in the class. And it doesn’t matter if you are in high school and planning on your future career as an artist or if you’ve been an artist all your life. If you want to improve your marketing skills, ask questions, or take your career to the next level, this is your opportunity. And meet some great people, too!


Rejection Stinks- Here’s What You Can Do About It

Amy Guidry with her work at the Acadiana Center for the ArtsYes, rejection from a gallery stinks. So I thought I’d post some ideas on what to do about it that don’t involve burning down the gallery or hate mail. I should preface this by saying I got the idea for this post from Art Calendar magazine. Jack White wrote an article called “Rejection Hurts” for the May issue. While I sometimes disagree with Mr. White’s ideas, I did find this article to be “spot on.” I would like to give my own two cents, though, so that’s the great thing about having one’s own blog. 😉

Okay, so you get a rejection from a gallery or a museum. Now what? Well, as Mr. White stated, it’s best to build a thick skin. True, but also look at this as an opportunity to get a referral. If a gallery rejects you, fine. Ask them if they can recommend a gallery that would suit your work. They may know of a new space opening up that is looking for artists. Or they may just give your name to another gallery themselves. (Yes, hard to believe, but that has happened for me.) It’s no skin off their nose to give you another name. In addition, you can then contact said gallery and use the name game to your advantage by saying ‘so and so from Gallery XYZ recommended your space to me and thought my work would fit your gallery.’

As far as reasons behind the rejection go, one of the more common reasons that Mr. White does not mention is that gallery’s have, in general, 12 exhibits a year. So that usually boils down to only 12 of their artists being shown in one year (except in a group show, of course). So it is not surprising that galleries, museums, and art centers usually have a full calendar for two years in advance. Sometimes 3 years. Just because a gallery isn’t interested at the time, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Perhaps they will keep your information on file. Perhaps they would like to stay in touch with you. It would be wise to maintain some type of relationship with these people. If you truly love the space, then it’s worth the time and effort. Not that you should do this anyway, but if you are randomly sending your work to any and every gallery, then it’s impossible to maintain relationships with all of these people. But if there are a few spaces you would give your left arm to be in, it would be in your best interest to stay in touch. And I don’t mean in a looking-to-get-a-restraining-order sort of way, either. Just get to know everyone on a personal basis. Learn their names. Go to their exhibits. Show a true interest in their artists’ work. THEN you can fill them in on what you’ve been doing.

I liked that Mr. White ended with saying to use rejection as a motivation to move forward. Aside from moving on, though, look for ways to turn rejection around into something positive. There may be another opportunity there, you just have to dig a little.


Blast From the Past

Early work from high school portfolioThis is one of my portfolio pieces from high school. I thought it might be fun to post work from my “early days.” I drew this from an ad for Ralph Lauren’s Safari perfume. I remember it being a hit in my art class. I actually still have it buried away in one of my many portfolios. You can see where the paper buckled from all my wear and tear on it as I was coloring in such a dark section. The small glass pieces were fun to do. I treated each one with individual attention.  I also liked drawing in the lions. 

I blocked in the length and width of the bottle in my original line sketch, and then filled in the squares of glass.  So actually, you can see how the piece is not perfectly symmetric, thanks to my freehand work.  Somehow I managed to squeeze it all in so the patterns still fit within the bottle.  And one side is narrower than the other.  Still, I’d say it’s not too shabby for a teenager. 

This was during my black and white stage- everything I did was in pencil or charcoal. Black and white photography was fascinating to me, so I used those concepts in drawing.  Now, obviously, I love to work in color. You can check out my new work at www.AmyGuidry.com.

Beautiful Art for Free?

Amy Guidry with her work at the Acadiana Center for the Arts

I thought I should address this issue even though it seems like common sense to me, but maybe others fall prey to this.  I’ve seen an alarming number of art opportunities that ask artists to give up their work for free in exchange for publicity, a percentage of the royalties, etc.  These are typically illustration jobs or graphic design jobs which promise to “provide you with good portfolio pieces.”  Or they expect their book to get published, thereby making the artist “famous” and they will receive “royalties.”  If you are an artist, no matter how desperate you may be for money or exposure, please don’t go for these “opportunities.” 

First, you should already have a portfolio, which means that you already have 8 or more of your best pieces to show.  So when a job promises that all you get in the end is a great sample for your portfolio, well, you’ve already filled that void.  You can find a paying gig that will do the same.  You should be keeping copies of your work for your portfolio, personal records, etc. anyway.

Next, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the overwhelming majority of potential authors looking for an artist do not have a publisher lined up.  So when they ask you to do free illustrations, you are probably doing this work so it will end up lining their cat’s litterbox.  More than likely these are half-baked ideas that these people *may* intend to follow through with, but won’t.  In the end, there will be no book, screenplay, collection of poetry, etc. therefore your artwork will never be seen. 

I know there are exceptions to every rule, but more than likely requests for free artwork are nothing more than that- free work.  Time is money, so please keep that in mind before you consider forking over your valuable work to strangers (or even family members!).  Unless someone has already shopped around for a publisher and their deal is a “sure thing,” then you can discuss your payment and get it in writing.  And unless you know that your work will be heavily marketed (and this is still debatable), don’t even consider hoping for publicity from the use of your free illustrations, etc. 

Don’t get me wrong, pro-bono work is great, but the jobs I’m talking about are not for a good cause.  They are simply a means to an end for someone else looking to line their pockets with your free work.  Before you give away your comic book art, maybe you should just write your own comic.  Or get a gig doing graphic design for an actual design company that pays you with money and not empty promises.  There are plenty of paying opportunities for artists, you just have to look for them.  Let’s put an end to the starving artist concept.  You’re a paid professional, and should be treated as such.

Let me know if you come across any other questionable opportunities.  Comments?  I love comments.  Questions?  I love questions.