Artist Mentoring Program and Gallery Representation

Karin Carton gallery
Karin Carton


Looking for an artist mentoring program or a representation from a gallery is not always easy. We will try to explain why it is usually a good idea for artists to have a gallery representing them, or at least a good artist mentoring program. And how to look for one.

What Do Galleries Look For?

Galleries look for a unique touch. Something that no other gallery will present. Something they believe will make them shine in the front of their community and their clients. What do you have that sets you apart you from other artists? What makes your work so unique?  The more the better. We usually recommend at least 5 points of differentiation. At a minimum. Start thinking ahead, before applying for representation or for an artist mentoring program. Not being prepared when you talk to the gallery will not reflect well upon you.

What makes me and my art so different, other humans will take the time to  promote me?

How Do You Gain Gallery Representation?

A gallery will start representing you when they think that you are underexposed.

Let me explain: galleries will expose you when they think you are the diamond in the rough. When they think that you are not using your talent properly because you are not in the right gallery for you. Or that you don’t have an art gallery when they think you should have one.

Also, don’t lose in mind that your art needs to sell. The gallery will attach a considerable amount of time, resources and manpower to bring you where they think you should be.

Should I Do It on My Own?

After all, it is your work. It is your decision. But going on your own means you will be competing with artists that do have gallery representation. Or are part of an artist mentorship program. It means that they will have resources that you don’t necessarily have. Marketing knowledge particular to the painting industry that you are just starting to gain. They will also have a network of art buyer that most likely you are just trying to build. And you will be starting on your own. It is not impossible. But without a good artist mentoring program, you might lose valuable time and money. Time and money that you could have concentrating on what you love: painting, and expressing yourself through arts.

What if I am Never Been Exposed?

This is one of the biggest fear artists have. How do I gain my first representation? Everyone started at some point. You are not the only one. First, you can start with your school. For example, our gallery is in Laguna Beach, CA. We are lucky enough that there is a famous art school called the Laguna College of Art and Design in the same town. And they have excellent representation. Arts school are usually very happy to promote their artists or alumnae and place them in an artist mentoring program or a gallery. Because it promotes them too.

What if you didn’t go to an art school? First, it is always better if you can meet the gallery in person. So staying local to start is always a good idea.

But what if there is no gallery in my area? Luckily, you are not the only one. A brilliant website provides the solution. Foundwork allows you to publish your art. And to present your portfolio to galleries looking for artists. You have 30 days to decide if it worth it. But at $4 a monthly subscription, why not give it a try?

Should I look for a gallery, or should they look for me?

This is a hard question. In an ideal world, customers will flock to you and your art. But unless you are already famous, you should probably look for them. In a subtle way. We don’t recommend spending all of your holiday budget on pay-per-click ads. Definitely not. But introducing yourself in a community event is a subtle way to spread the word that you are available for an artist mentoring program, or if you are more mature, directly for gallery representation.

A word of caution: If someone is offering you a paid fee to look for a gallery for you, run away! Galleries pay art scouts. A good gallery will always disclose the amount to you. You should never have to pay to represent yourself. And anyone telling you the opposite is just trying to scam you.  It is the gallery that wants to represent you. Because they believe your art is worth it.

Nothing should ever come out of your own pocket.

Also, if a gallery is asking for money to represent you, they are just trying a piece of real estate.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a cost associated with making you known. Galleries have to allocate resources to promote you. But it is their job! Not yours. And they are rewarded for it when they sell your art.

If they are asking you for money upfront, they are not really believing in your product. And they are just trying to rent you a part of their space. Why would you want to work with a gallery like that? It is better to look for a different one.

What about social media?

You should always try to be as much as possible on social media. But here is the downside to it. There is nothing more frustrating than to

see an artist spending more time on social media than to focus on his/her work. You are an artist. Do what you love! Being on social media is definitely important. But you should not

devote it more time than your creative time. Your creative time is the most precious of all. Do not waste it.

Important note: be sure to ask if the artist mentoring program will teach you the fundamentals of time management for artists.

What should I Expect from a Gallery?

You should expect your gallery to give you the best tools to grow!

Your work is unique. And for you it is priceless. Do not doubt your talent. Thinking you are not worth it because you don’t have any current representation or not the one that you would like, is a mistake. You are the only one painting like you.!And nobody can take this from you. If you love what you do, somebody else does. You just have to find them.

You can expect your gallery to be completely transparent about their policy and pricing. Yes, the gallery will make money with your arts. And so will you! And it needs to be completely transparent from the beginning. How much the gallery will make. And how much you will also make. It needs to make sense for you, and the gallery also. And you and the gallery need to lay it down before you start working.

Also, you shouldn’t lock yourself in a lifelong contract. You do not know where you are going to be a few months or years from now. Neither does the gallery. Do not lock yourself in a contract for more than 6 months. 4-6 months is an ideal contract length. Ideally, you would have a close giving you the option to re-sign with the gallery if you both agree to do so. But this is just an option. Do not think that the gallery will automatically keep you. If your art didn’t sell, chances are they won’t. And if you did sell well, you can stay with the same gallery or change for a bigger one.

Always leave a gallery on good terms.

The art world is relatively small. And news travels fast.

And this is why an artist mentoring program can help you. It can help define your goals and timeline. Where do you want to be in a few months or years?

A good artist mentoring program can also help you create a portfolio. A body of work that you will present to your clients. You will also receive valuable feedback from the gallery, as well the art community. Do your research on the program and the gallery.

A reputable artist mentoring program will also help you create an artist statement and a resume/bio. Those are two very important pieces for anyone serious about being in the art world. What do you and your art stand for?

The artist mentoring program should also help you manage your time more effectively. As well as many other benefits, such as introducing you to a community you don’t necessarily have access to.


It needs to be a personal decision. Don’t let only economic motives only guide your decision. If you decide to work with a gallery or to join an artist mentoring program. Or if you choose another route and decide to do it on your own.

If you decide to work with a gallery, you will spend a lot of time with their them. And at the end, we are all humans. The connection needs to pass. Whatever the gallery or the artist mentoring program offers you, make sure you like them first. And that you also like the clientele they will market your art too.


What is next?

Prepare yourself. And try. What is the best thing that can happen?


Please forward your questions, comments or request for information to