Cold Call Submissions: Contacting a venue with an offer to sell them a piece when there has been no request made, by the venue, for the art.
Letter of Introduction
Start with a letter of introduction that explains who you are, what you are offering, and why a venue should be interested, and why you are offering your work to this venue. There is some difference of opinion as to whether or not to include a price at this point. Some arts include a price and a breakdown of the costs. This saves time later if a venue may be interested, but cannot afford your asking price. Venues may wish to know cost upfront.
Other artists believe you should determine interest before you give a price. Price may change if the scope of the piece changes to fit the space requirements or the artistic taste of the venue.
Note on Writing Anything You Want People to Read
We are all inundated with a huge amount of information and art directors and curators, are no exception. If you want them to read your pitch you better get their interest in the first paragraph, better still the first sentence. That is pretty standard for any instruction on writing a business letter, short story, or novel but it begs reiteration here.
In a separate document explain your project, give a description. If you have images, include enough of them to show the piece off, without overwhelming the recipient. If you do not have images, include a drawing of the concept. A maquette is also acceptable as a means to show concept and desirable if the work is in a 3D form. Drawings and maquettes are often used for a work in progress (WIP).
You will want to explain your premise, i.e. the thought process behind the work and why you think it is suitable for the venue. Your work may not obviously match the premise as some pieces are abstract but when explained the viewer can relate and appreciate the artist’s vision and the piece of art. A clear communication of the meaning behind the work can be a deciding factor in having it accepted.
Technical Information Is Important to Include
The venue must know whether or not your work will fit in their location and if the medium you used to create it is suitable. e.g. if you are submitting a piece that will melt in heavy rain and the only place the venue has to install it is outdoors, it will not be suitable. Give the size, medium, title, and any special installation requirements.
Include a Curriculum Vitae
Include a CV. See the link to instructions on how to write an acceptable curriculum vitae (CV).
Include a Short Biography
You can include a short bio. The link for the CV also will take you to instructions on how to write a proper biography.
Submissions for galleries will be slightly different than submitting for an art installation that is permanent. Galleries will need a bio, specs, the name of the piece and a short description of it. This will go on a gallery card to go with the exhibit and you really need to make sure it is correct. All information must be legible and accessible. If you are including links to sites that house videos of shows you were in, make sure they don’t require a membership to open them. YouTube would be an obvious choice for universal access. Only include ones that show your work to its best advantage. Often gallery submissions will be made as a call for art and they will give a very specific list of criteria that must be adhered to. See the document on “Call for Art” that deals with this topic.
This is a lot of information and in creating this package do try to be as brief and concise as possible, be accurate, have someone proof read your work and if submitting electronically, a PDF format is usually your best option because all professional institutions’ staff will be able to read it.
Try not to be discouraged if you are not successful at first. Success takes perseverance. Sometimes luck is involved too and the more times you try the more times you have a chance at being successful. Good luck!
Download the pdf version of this article here