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How to Create an Artist Packet: A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to get your artwork shown in a gallery?

Then you’ll need to assemble an artist packet.

An Artist packet is a basic business tool for the professional artist; one that includes visual images, an artist’s statement, a cover letter, and a resume.

Getting all these materials together and making sure they look professional can be a lot of work, but Artailer is here to help!

We’ve put together this handy guide for creating your artist packet so you can approach galleries with confidence.

How to Create your #ArtistPacket to Assure 100% #GallerySubmission Acceptance Click To Tweet

Writer your Cover Letter like a Pro

The cover letter is the simplest part of your artist packet.

A lot of artists make the mistake of writing a long, drawn-out cover letter with lots of fancy embellishments and a list of reasons the gallery should accept their work.

In truth, the cover letter is meant to function as a brief greeting. When the gallery staff opens your artist packet, they will glance quickly at the cover letter and move on to the images of artwork you’ve included.

A lot of artists make the mistake of writing a long #coverletter with lots of fancy words for their… Click To Tweet

The staff doesn’t have a tonne of extra time, and will likely skip reading a long cover letter altogether. Do yourself a favour and keep it short and to the point; a few sentences should get the job done.

You’ll want to include only the most relevant information, such as:

  • Body of Work: Title of the series included in your slides
  • Medium: (oil, clay, silver gelatin prints)
  • An Index: A short list of anything else included in your packet, like a bio or artist’s statement.

Offer to send additional materials upon request or arrange for a studio visit. Don’t forget to establish the gallery director’s full name and use in the heading and greeting of the letter. Artist Joanne Materra has some thoughts on what not to do when approaching a gallery director.

artailer-writing-cover-letter

Craft your  Artist’s Resume for Easy Read

Typically, an artist’s resume is around 1-2 pages.

It should be clear and easy to read, with a simple, consistent format.

Although formatting can vary a lot based on both preference and experience, the general rule of thumb is that the most important sections are listed first.

For an artist, this means your exhibitions (group or solo) always go right at the top of the page. If you have both solo and group shows, give each category its list starting with the most recent entry first.

Your artist #cover letter should be clear & easy to read, with a simple, consistent format. Click To Tweet
Here’s a short guide to the most common categories on the artist’s resume:

  • Group and Solo Exhibitions: Remember to list the date and title of the show, as well as the name of the exhibition space and the address.
  • Selected reviews and publications: Are there any published pieces about you and your work? If so, list them here.
  • Grants and awards: Any fellowships, scholarships or other honours should be listed under this category.
  • Education: Associates, Bachelors, Masters and workshops all count here.
  • Representation: If you are represented by any other galleries your resume is a good place to include this information.
  • Affiliations: This is the place for any art-related memberships you might have.

The order you list the remainder of the categories is largely up to you; just remember that the most relevant information should always be listed first.
Think about editing out unnecessary information if need be. For instance, if you have 5 group shows on your resume that you’ve participated in over the last three years, maybe leave out that student shows that you were in 20 years ago.

Any education that you’ve received that isn’t directly related to your art career should also be omitted.

 

artailer-writing-cover letter

 

If you’re just commencing your career, you might need to modify the standard form of your artist’s resume.

You may have only participated in a few shows, and that’s okay because, as your career progresses you’ll add to your resume. For now, though, an easy way to make it look like you’ve got a rich, active, artistic life, is to focus on your ‘Bodies of Work’ section even if you haven’t been exhibited in many, or any, exhibitions.

Artists just starting out may need to modify their #artistresume, if they want to get their art into… Click To Tweet

List the art that you have made over the years and include a short, descriptive sentence or two about the content.

You can also include a section for “Collections” if anyone owns your work. Just name the city and town where the art resides and specify that it’s a private collection; no one needs to know if it’s owned by a family member!

The Practical Art World also has some ideas some ideas about how to put together a resume when you lack previous experience.

Pen Down your Artist’s Statement like no Other

Unless you’re a professional writer, you are probably not looking forward to writing an artist’s statement.

True!

It can be difficult to put your artistic intentions into writing, but you only need to write about half a page, and longer than one page is too long.

Keep the information here as specific as possible – talk about the medium that you use or a unique experience which inspired you. Beware of using cliches or overblown, pompous phrases.

Your #artiststatement, #artmedium, inspiration. Beware of using cliches or overblown, pompous phrase Click To Tweet

The Abundant Artist has a nice article about writing your artist’s statement.

artailer-artist statement writing

Remember to create your artist statement at the same time you select your slides because they should be compatible and, in general, each set should revolve around a few specific themes. Keeping a journal to jot down notes while you’re making art can be helpful.

Provide Quality Slides (or a CD) of your Artwork

Visuals of your art are far and away the most important material going into your artist’s packet.

You can either send slides of your work or a CD full of digital images depending on what sort of camera you decide to use.

Generally speaking, slides are considered old technology and CDs are preferred, however, because galleries have different preferences it is often better to contact them beforehand and ask which method they prefer.

artailer-image-slide

Consider carefully which pieces of artwork you want to include.

If you are sending slides, send only one sheet. If you are sending a CD, you can include more images, but only choose those which you feel very strongly about. It may help to get a second opinion from a trusted friend or professional if you’re having trouble deciding which works should make the cut. 10-20 is the magic number.

Instead of picking a random assortment of images that you like, try to pick out artworks that go together; ones that are consistent thematically made around the same time, and use a similar medium, because is what is meant by “body of work.” You are essentially writing a proposal to the gallery, and that gallery wants a strong, connected statement from you and your art.

Remember, 10-20 is the magic # of artwork samples to include in your #artistpacket Click To Tweet

Making sure you have great, professionally shot images is also essential to impress galleries.

Reviews and Show Announcements

This section is completely optional, but if you do have any positive reviews from previous shows, it’s a good idea to include them with the rest of your material. Reviews can be impressive and show the gallery that you are already a critically lauded artist.

Don’t Forget your ‘SASE’

SASE stands for ‘self-addressed stamped envelope.’

This is by no means the most crucial part of your artist’s packet, but you might find it’s a time-saver later on.

Without an SASE, galleries are unlikely to send your material back to you.They receive a massive amount of unsolicited proposals every day and can’t afford to stamp and return every packet so your slides could end up languishing in the basement of a dusty gallery for years. You should always have copies of your slides on hand, but if a gallery mails your packet back to you, fully intact, it’s that much easier for you send it right back out to another gallery. Don’t forget to use an envelope that will fit all of your materials inside and include the postage.

How many unsolicited #artistpackets #artgalleries receive per week? Share below Click To Tweet

You should always have copies of your slides on hand, but if a gallery mails your packet back to you, fully intact, it’s that much easier for you send it right back out to another gallery. Don’t forget to use an envelope that will fit all of your materials inside and include the postage.

Don't forget #artiststatement, #coverletter, #resume, & #artworksamples in your #artistpacket Click To Tweet

 

Have you ever sent out an artist’s packet? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole experience below!

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