Make sure to give yourself adequate time to photograph and catalog the paintings. In other words, don’t paint up to the evening before delivery. You need to schedule time to shift from the painting mindset to the business mindset to be organized when delivery is made. Have images ready as far in advance for the gallery as possible. This allows them to begin pre-sales and advanced advertising. It’s far less stressful to arrive at an opening with a couple of red dots, signifying sales, than to stand around all evening eagerly anticipating that first sale. There’s also a psychology of success that stimulates other collectors to commit if they see works selling quickly. If the gallery has images and prices in advance, they can begin the process of contacting previous collectors and potential collectors, and generating excitement. Showing up at the gallery organized and prepared will make their job easier and endear you to them. The happier they are with you, the better they’ll promote you to their clients.
Also, think about the framing well in advance, allowing plenty of time for the materials to be ordered and assembled. Communicate with the gallery to find out what their recommendations are. They know their market and can prove to be a valuable guide in presenting your work to its best advantage. If a large body of work is required, a degree of consistency might make for a stronger statement. Not that every painting needs to be framed the same way—something often associated with a museum show—but a little cohesion will unite your work and tie the exhibit together. Don’t over frame. Flatter the painting but be prepared for many collectors to want to reframe the piece. An elegant presentation that shows the work and not the framing, allows the public to appreciate the art without being turned off by the frame. Sales are often lost due to an unflattering frame, one that’s either under- or overstated.
Provide your gallery with updated biographic information and publications in which you’ve been featured. Having these on hand allows the gallery to better promote you to their patrons, and helps educate the sales staff about what you have been doing. The better they know you, the better they can represent you. Collectors want to know about the artist. It helps to personalize and validate their purchase.
Even though I’ve practiced these guidelines to the best of my ability, I still over commit at times, leading to late blurry-eyed evenings trying to meet deadlines. But the rewards of seeing the paintings elegantly hung and beautiful illuminated makes all the effort worthwhile.