I got a great comment on my most recent post about rejection letters. I had wondered why I was getting so many hits on people searching for "rejection letter." Were they trying to find other rejects with which to commiserate? Were they looking for wording for their own cruel rejection letters?
A gallery employee named Freshie Beth posted this comment:
"Awesome post! I work in an art gallery and I was honestly googling "artist rejection letter" to try and come up with better wording than what I usually send to artists, which I know is short and not very sweet. What can I say - I get two or three submissions a day and I have other things to do than come up with a nice, thoughtful rejection letter for each and every one. Usually the work is so awful, I'm trying to hold back and not be mean (I am blunt by nature). As a gallery director, I can translate those letters for you... When they say they're not currently seeking other artists, they're saying that they don't want to fit you in. If they liked your work and wanted to sell it, they would bring you in unless their gallery really is just a 10' x 10' space. They either don't like your work or it truly isn't a fit with their gallery. Some galleries have very narrow focuses or they just really know what their clients buys and don't want to waste your time or theirs. Our gallery has a variety of subject matter, but it is cohesive and I can tell what "fits" and what doesn't. If we reject someone, it's 95% because the work isn't good enough for our semi-high-end gallery. Out of 50 submission, I might get one that I actually think we could sell. Then, 9 out of 10 of those artists flake out and we never hear from them again. We even offered to have a show for a new artist who we spoke with a few times, then - nothing. Where did he go? The whole process is pretty ridiculous!"
There's a lot to digest there.
She confirms my original hunch that gallery directors really mean that they don't like your work when they say things like, "not a good fit," or "not looking for new artists..."
So I was thinking that it might be funny to, instead of just sending a SASE along with my materials, send a little self-addressed, stamped postcard reminiscent of those notes you sent to the kid you were crushing on in third grade:
This doesn't give them the option to say any of those things that are open for interpretation. It's either yes or no. Wouldn't you rather know why they don't like your work? Or why they don't think it's right for their gallery?
I was surprised by her statement that 9 out of 10 artists flake out. Are aritsts really that flaky? That makes me sad.
I wonder if her experiences are similar to those of other gallery owners?