Written by Brenda Dunn, member of Young Arts Leaders Collective
So your art is a good fit for showing in a non-traditional venue. Now all you need is one of those non-traditional venues.
Before you even approach a business, here is some prework that you should have done.
GET A WEBSITE. It doesn’t need to be slick or complex, it just needs to work. It can be as simple as a Facebook page dedicated to photos of your pieces, and it can be as in depth as a full on Shopify store. But you need a web presence. There are dozens of free and easy templates so this is no longer an option, it’s a given. Get a website, or get a websavvy friend.
Contacts: If you’re not showing at a gallery, you ARE the main contact for your sales. This means you need to make it easy for folks to get in touch. If the business owner needs to reach you, or they want to pass you info to a potential client, that needs to be clear and simple. You can use your personal email, or existing contacts, but you can also create a free email address just for sales and it’s a good habit to separate your personal and your business contacts as early as possible. If you have even a little cash to use on this, business cards can be a very inexpensive way to put people in touch. Set up a contact form somewhere on that lovely new website you just made and be sure to make it clear and simple.
Brand match: Do your research. Why would this business be a good space for your art? What about them and their brand makes you think you’d work well together? Look at their social media and their venue and have a sense of why you think it would suit your artwork. The BIA in your area might also have suggestions about places looking to adorn their walls.
The approach: Chatting to folks in person is always a great starting point. If you like the art they’re currently displaying, say so! Then ask how they go about selecting it. You can tell business owners right off the bat that you’re interested in showing in their space and you’d love to send examples of your work.
Follow up! If you send some info and don’t hear back, reach out by phone or even in person to ask if they got the info. This can be scary and sometimes you’ll get the brush off, but most businesses benefit enormously from having art on their walls so don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
The Young Arts Leaders Collective (YALC) is an initiative of the AOE Arts Council. YALC's mission is to support the professional development of young emerging artists and arts administrators in Ottawa. In the initial stages this will include a mentorship program, networking opportunities, the dissemination of information, and communication to connect young, emerging artists and arts administrators in Ottawa with each other and with other artists, to help contribute to building a thriving Ottawa arts community.