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Scoring Your First Show

8 Sep


How to Score Your Very First Art Show

So you have an bedroom (or apartment!) full of paintings/pieces? So your sister or best friend keep saying you should totally have a show? So your big art dream is showing your work in public and maybe even selling some of it to make room (and dollars!) for future projects.

If you’ve never shown before, getting a show might seem near-impossible. Femme Cartel has helped hundreds of emerging artists get their work onto some of the yummiest art spaces around.

Here are our favorite tips for how you can get a show for yourself:

  1. Consider non-gallery locations like your favorite art bar or local cafe. Of course you likely dream of having your work in a streamlined, gorgeous gallery some day! Take the first step by getting your work out there somewhere you adore, like an art bar, salon, or cool restaurant. This will help you build your resume of shows (tip: post your show history on your badass art website!).  Since most new artists just don’t have their very first show at the SFMOMA or the Whitney Biennial, use these early shows to hone your art show time management skills and learn everything about pricing, hanging, and promoting your work. This is you gearing up to ROCK it seamlessly!
  2. Submit to group shows. Even if a solo show is your dream, many (most!) artists show a piece or two in a group show before having a whole show to themselves. Group shows can be an amazing way to meet more art community and get your foot in the door at galleries that make you swoon.
  3. Ask artists you know how they got their shows; if (and only if) you sense that the vibe is right and good, share your work with them and ask them to introduce you to their contact at the space. (If you don’t know other artists yet, look for artist friends or art community on craigslist, meetup, or via classes at your local art centers and spaces.)
  4. Submit anyways! Even if the show or venue or show seems too prestigious, big, or well-known, submit anyways. Finding hot new artists is very tricky for curators—and most find it refreshing to hear from new/emerging artists with talent! (They usually have to go hunting hard…or rely on people in their circles.)
  5. Create/keep up a solid art web site that showcases only your very best—and most current—pieces. Your web site shouldn’t be an archive of everything you’ve ever done. Use it to highlight just the very best of your talents. If you wouldn’t put a certain piece in a show today, don’t put it on your site. (See additional tips on making an art web site that ROCKS.)
  6. Approach art spaces with gusto. Ask who is in charge of changing up the art in spaces you dig. Ask for an in person introduction or for their email address. Pitch your show to them. By which we mean: if you’re meeting someone in person, flip them through your art web site on a tablet or share quality, printed photographs of your work. If you’re emailing, write a blurb about the kind of show you’ll put up (especially if your web site has more than one kind of art/theme) and attach 2-3 jpgs, plus your art site. To help the person really see your vision, state a name for the show. Commit to doing this a few spaces every week until you get a show. Most artists never hear back from most spaces. Hearing a “yes” is a rare occurrence, so…don’t lose your drive when you inevitably submit to a few without a yes.
  7. Keep it positive! Understand that getting your first show, realistically, takes a lot of work, but keep your vision and optimism front and center. When you shine, your work shines, and this will make folks want to work with you and showcase your work!

And once you get your very first show, check out Femme Cartel’s Tips on being a new artist working with an art space or gallery!


Find these tips useful? Inspiring? See the archive of Femme Cartel tips for emerging artists, sign up for the newsletter so you never miss a tip, and/or SHARE with your emerging artist pals!

Finding Your Fans

23 Jul


Find Your Biggest Fans (& Collectors).

To help you get your artwork into the hands and eyeballs of the people (collectors) who would buy it…we’ve polled some of our favorite art world pals to get their advice for you.

Before you get a gallery working for you, you should be hitting up contest watchers and Bay Area Art grind. Apply to everything. Especially New American Paintings. I got so many collectors and gallery inquiries from my feature in that publication.
-Jessica Hess, artist (art site)

Do you. Make your art visible. Be happy. Make friends. Make sacrifices. + Do you.
-Joanne Ludwig, curator, artist, and arts-events-maker (All Lady Warrior Zine + Art Show | Saturday, July 26)

…One thing Oakland likes/needs to some extent, needs, is free programing. By offering free space (in my shop/gallery) to host a free book shop, I created a “free program,” if you will, for my shoppers. They can buy and the can shop for something for free!
-Lisa Aurora Calderon, Gallery Owner (Naming Gallery Tilde vintage/contemporary boutique)


Find these tips useful? Inspiring? See the archive of Femme Cartel tips for emerging artists, sign up for the newsletter so you never miss a tip, and/or SHARE with your pals!

3 Mistakes with Galleries

28 Jun

To help you figure out the gallery world so that your work can really shine, we’ve polled some of our favorite art world folks to get their advice for you.

Tips on avoiding 3 big mistakes new artists make…with galleries:

1. (Dont get discouraged.) Submit to the right galleries. Don’t waste your time or get discouraged by approaching galleries who just don’t show your kind of work. Kristi at Rock Paper Scissors gallery says, “Be thorough! Do your research on the gallery specifics/call for art, what type of work is shown/desired.”

2. (Don’t be rude.) Be the kind of person galleries love working with! “Follow up and always punctually show for meetings,” Kristi advises, “Galleries have a tight schedule so be respectful and kind throughout the process. No gallery I know will work twice with a rude artist, no matter how great their work is.”

3. (Don’t be caught off guard by the gallery!) Know exactly what each art space expects. “Devour your contracts so there are no surprises and you are prepared for your obligations,” encourages Kristi.

 Rock on…

…and shine your art and message out there! …. Let us know in the comments if you have additional suggestions.

If you found these tips useful,

Please share this piece–we want to reach and help more emerging artists than just those in our current circle!

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Tips: Price Your Art to Sell

2 Jun

Price Your Art to Sell

(Don’t miss other tips on rocking your art life; sign up for the monthly Femme Cartel newsletter!)

Femme Cartel has promoted and priced hundreds of works of art to sell in cafe shows, gallery shows, and directly to art collectors. We’ve also chatted with a handful of our top-selling artists to hear what what works best for them. Here are some solid tips on what really works. Happy art-selling!

You have three good options for setting the price:

  1. Base your prices on your recent sales history. Pricing art is like being awarded a higher wage in a new job. Both are mostly based on what you earned last time. Every time you have a successful period of sales, raise those prices!
  2. Or, base it on an hourly wage + supply costs. If you are super-new to the art-selling scene or have switched mediums and don’t have much “history” selling that kind of art, you may want to calculate your prices based on an hourly wage (you pick it!) and the cost of your supplies.
  3. Ask the curator or gallery owner. “I didn’t know how to price my art, so I just asked the curator/gallery owner. She must have set good prices, because all 15 pieces sold and I got a great check.” -Artist Renee Castro, aka Ladi Reni

What not to do:

  • Don’t base it on the wrong stuff: Try not to think about how much emotion you poured into it. Or how attached to the art you are. So…see #2 for what to do. Art sales is about commerce in the real world. Save the heart-felt stuff for your artist talk!
  • Don’t devalue your work, lady! Historically, we women undervalue our work (in every field!). So…if you’re wavering between two possible sticker prices, pick the higher one. Boom!

And some savvy sales tips from artist Laura Gonzalez:

  • Make written transfer of sale documents to let your buyer know they are purchasing an original—it gives the sale a little extra touch.
  • I normally up the prices when showing at a gallery—if it takes a percentage.
  • Stay calm, selling (or lack of) can be very stressful, but try and have fun with it. Stay friendly!

(Don’t miss other tips on rocking your art life; sign up for the monthly Femme Cartel newsletter!)

Tips: Balancing Art and Life

8 May

Quotations from from Real, Working Artists:


“Sixteen months ago I left my full time job to run my own photography business. It was simultaneously the most terrifying and the most empowering experience of my life. 

I have keep reminding myself of the many years of school, bad jobs, and other prep that went into getting me to this stage. Success or no, I never stop working.”

–Photographer Flee Kieselhorst


“I often get asked how I balance working full time and painting full time and I tell them that I might not sleep much, but I am happy.

My art is my reason for living, so I HAVE to do it.

The whole point is, JUST DO IT. Don’t let a little thing like working for the man hold you back from being an artist.”

–Artist Leanne “Elrod” Rodriguez



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Tips: 3 Key (Online) Ways to Boost Your Art Career

31 Mar

We know you’re busy making art, rocking out, making the world a better place, and loving up your community (and maybe even still working a day job or two).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rockin online art presence. And make some $$ while you’re at it. Here are our latest tips for emerging artists.

  1. Invest in high quality photos of your art. If your art is incredible but your photo quality stinks, no one will know how badass your art is! (If you can’t pay a photographer full price, try finding a new photographer who will swap photography for art!)
  2. Sell your art 24-7. Have a web page where your fans can buy your art even while you’re creating more!
  3. Befriend the right social media—for you! Find the platform(s) you feel comfortable with–and excited about! (You don’t need to be on every platform; you just need to be consistent and authentic on the ones you’re on.)

If you found this helpful, sign up for our e-news so you never miss this kind of thing!

Also, we’d love to hear what works for you: let us know in the comments below what you think!


Femily & Christina