Some advice for writing a proposal to a gallery, this was written for a friend who asked for advice.
Write in your own voice- it is unique.
Start with two sentences outlining the whole project and vision of the exhibition.
State what it is, how many works, the idea behind the work and why you want to exhibit there. Try to encapsulate all that in concise language. Tailor this to each gallery by naming something specific if you can.
Then write about:
How the work began, the history, how they developed and the journey of getting to this point. Their meaning, ethos, get romantic if you want, poetic even but don’t ramble. Or say the same thing in ten different ways (I do that).
What the Exhibition is about. This might differ from what each piece is about- they are parts of the whole.
The work involved- subject, materials, framing and size. Story of how you make them.
For sale with prices or not for sale and why.
If applying to a commercial gallery, how can they gain profit- (prints, events, talks, workshops, sales, commissions)
Summarise with a concise sentence of purpose. What can it say to their audience.
Get someone to read it over and suggest edits, spot mistakes. Make it one page if you can.
Think about where project might be shown- somewhere large enough for the work, shows similar type and standard of work, you like their ethos, local, relatable in some way.
Email it to the gallery, do not post in the mail unless you are sending some work (don’t) then follow up with an email.
Find out the name of the curator or director and name them in the email. To whom it may concern has had its day.
Offer a chance to meet and bring some work to show them in person. In person forms relationships and makes you less forgettable.
Include three or four good images of unframed work and one framed. Clear, middle sized images 200-300 dpi and around 1500-2000 pixels width or around 2mb. Mention you have larger images (always have larger images) Make sure the image is well lit, even, in focus, straight and the correct colours.
Bad images will kill any proposal stone dead. As will ones so large they overwhelm their inbox. Don’t send WeTransfer links as they expire.
Name picture files with ‘ your name_title of work.jpg ‘ so they can be saved and your name remembered.
Remember they get hundreds and hundreds of proposals every week, they can’t respond to all of them. If they did they’d go under, as that would be all they’d have time to do.
Be patient, give them a month and then follow up politely via email. They’re busy and probably understaffed. If you don’t hear back it could be for a million reasons, don’t take it to heart and try again next year with some new work.