Updated: Jan 22, 2021
I enjoy working on both sides of the coin, as the gallery and as the artist. When I started as an artist I didn’t understand this concept until I started my own art gallery business. If you don’t know about the gallery – artist relationship, then please read on!
Keep in mind here that I am not a writer so please don’t critique the spelling or the grammar! This is an important topic that I believe artists need to know, if they don’t know it already. I speak about this in my seminars a lot. Its about respecting the work of others and respecting yourself.
Being an artist is entirely about building relationships-which is why networking and respecting others is so incredibly important in this art business.
I work as an artist, an art consultant (for artists), and as a gallery owner. If you are an artist and reading this, you are the audience this blog post is directed to. If you are a buyer, this is something important for you to read too. Its ok to buy direct from the artist if the artist is still maintaining their agreement of a percentage to the gallery where you saw the art. The artist is being respectful of their relationship when they do this. “Buying after the show” is bad artist-gallery relationship building business.
The gallery and artist relationship is a partnership where both need to work together for a common goal, to sell art. Never ever expect that it is only the gallery’s job is to sell your art like a one sided coin, it takes work from the artist as well. Sure, you have made a great painting but the audience in a gallery is limited, people need to know who you are and know your name and what you are about. If you are not an established name, you need to work harder to get buyers in the door for this relationship you are trying to grow. Your friends and family, people you have met is where your sales will start. When a gallery takes you on as an artist, they do expect that you will bring in clients to the gallery as well as their responsibility to show their clients the work. They are there and open as a venue that supports you and you need to support their initiatives as well.
I’ve heard the expression from artists, “its my work that I did so, it should my money and my sale”. The gallery works hard for a commission. Taxes, rent, hydro, expensive track lighting (bulbs) need to be replaced”, marketing materials (have you ever looked at how expensive ads are?), labels, mailing list, website fees, staff, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, food…the list goes on and on. And on top of that the gallery owner has his or her own set of bills and they are likely operating the gallery because of a passion for art and for artists. Not buying art or selling your art through a gallery, means that galleries close. This is how your name gets known beyond your ‘circle’.
One thing that really bothers me as a gallery owner, and I say this again and again, because I know other gallery owners feel it too, that the public and the artists do deals behind the gallery owner’s back. Yes, we have to pay a commission as artists. Yes, that is always factored into the price. Public: please stop asking artists to sell their work for less to you ‘after the show’. The gallery has worked hard to open a show and their space (which totally looks cleaner than a studio or in a cluttered home, with fantastic lighting and the space to view it). There is a reason why galleries exist. One of those reasons is presentation.
After an exhibition, it is important that the price of the art stays the same no matter if the gallery is selling it or the artist is selling it. If it was seen at a show, be respectful and pay your gallery. Ensure that the gallery who is supporting you is supported. A gallery is not being greedy by ‘taking a commission’. Please remember that when you start your partnership with a gallery, your reputation as an artist will be a respectful relationship and you will be known for it.
From the Artist and Gallery perspective,
PS Comment below, I always love to hear what others have to say. Rude, disrespectful comments will not be published.