Assiniboia Gallery - Artist Series Part I How do we find new artists?

March 1, 2011
Artist Series Part I How do we find new artists?

We frequently get asked how we find our artists. It's not a simple answer, but I thought I'd try to explain our process.

We receive portfolios from artists on an almost daily basis - either by mail or email. Over the past 11 years, we have received many...and, I will be brutally honest here - I've replied to maybe 5% of these. (So, if you are an artist out there who has contacted us and never heard a word please accept my sincere apologies.) I'd like to say I will get back to you, but the truth is I just won't. I could likely employ someone full time year round just to get back to people. The directory in my email titled "Artists - not contacted" is very. very. full.

From these hundreds (thousands...) of portfolios I don't think we've ever found an artist that we now represent. This is likely surprising to you. Instead as our business is mostly word of mouth and referrals so is our process of finding new talent. We have many wonderful colleagues - people in other cities who own galleries and have a similar aesthetic to ours - that we chat and email with on a regular basis. With most galleries having really good websites, we can look online to see what galleries in other places are showing.

This process of finding new artists makes it very important for an artist to have at least one gallery. Our job as art dealers is not only to represent the work to our clients, but also to other galleries. We can be wonderful ambassadors of the art and can use our contacts with other galleries to help our artists become established in other centres. It's a win-win situation.

An excellent example of this process is Saskatchewan born and raised artist, Sheila Kernan.

Sheila contacted us by phone and emailed her website, but this was after her Calgary dealer called us first to recommend Sheila's work.

"Starlight" 30 x 40" mixed media/canvas

We've represented Sheila's work for just over a year now and she has become one of our top ten artists. We are looking forward to our first solo show with Sheila opening June 4, 2011.

Why has this relationship been so successful in a relatively short period of time?

  • Sheila is an amazing artist. She paints her subject matter in a new and exciting way incorporating colour and texture.
  • Sheila's work is different.
  • Sheila has a wonderful personality.

  • Sheila gets the art gallery business.

  • We have a great rapport. Sheila is professional, flexible and loyal - and so are we!

  • And...Sheila is young, talented and from Saskatchewan!

In our first meeting with Sheila, she told us how she has always admired the work of Robert Genn and considers him her mentor. For years, we've been telling artists that Robert Genn is an incredible artist and he just gets it. I would recommend subscribing to Robert's weekly email "The Painter's Keys".

Robert Genn "October Pattern" 11 x 14" acrylic/canvas

So, in an nutshell, this is how we find new artists.


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