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5 ways to get your artwork exhibited in a gallery

While the web enables your artwork to potentially be seen by millions of people, there's nothing quite like the cachet of having your physical work exhibited in a real-world gallery. But how do you go about it?

There was only one way to find out: we asked a gallery owner to give us some tips on how to get your work shown in an exhibition. Here's what Graham McCallum, co-founder of the Kemistry Gallery (opens in new tab), suggested...

01. Be informed

Exhibited work from James Joyce

Exhibited work from James Joyce

Do your research. You wouldn't expect a gallery specialising in graffiti to be interested in landscape paintings, for example. Yet it's amazing how many people write to us with work that's nothing like the sort of thing we exhibit. We'd expect people to look at our website and consider how their work fits into those categories.

02. Find your own style

Exhibited work from Anthony Burrill.

Exhibited work from Anthony Burrill

We're always looking for people whose work we think is unusual and different, and has something to say. There's a lot of rather same-ish stuff going around: certain designers or artists are very influential and, with the internet being what it is, their work spreads around like wildfire. It's natural to have heroes, but you need to find your own style.

03. Expect to contribute

List of artworks to be exhibited

Curating exhibitions is an art in itself

There's so much more to putting on an exhibition than simply sticking pictures up on the wall. Exhibitions are curated, so they often have themes, and in every case we'll get people to do work specifically for the exhibition.

Some of the most successful things we've done have been quite experimental, such as our 'First Impressions Last' show, where five writers, including a science fiction writer, rapper and novelist, typed written portraits of people who came in.

04. Look for dry hire

New artist’s work

Kemistry is dedicated to exhibiting both current and up-and-coming artists

Look out for gallery spaces you can hire. We do the occasional dry hire for people who want to have the gallery for two or three days to show something, so people can potentially hire out the space. But we can't hire it to just anybody, because we still need to maintain the gallery's reputation.

05. Don't take it personally

In most cases, we'll know straight away if something is right for us. There aren't any rules: it's about getting an instinctive feeling. When you look at someone's work, you can just tell. We'll look at our year's schedule and see where people might fit in. If it's a no, it's not a criticism of what you're doing, it's just not right for the gallery.

Kemistry Gallery (opens in new tab) is an independent gallery based in Shoreditch, London. It’s dedicated to exhibiting the work of outstanding graphic designers, both past, present and upcoming.

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