If you're on the journey of making your mark in the art world, you've probably thought about art galleries and their potential role in helping you build your career. The idea of working with galleries can be exciting for some and intimidating for others. Many artists wonder,” What's the deal with art galleries, how do they work, and how do I get my art in a gallery?” In this blog, we'll give you all the details, explore the perks, and pitfalls, and help you navigate working with art galleries.
Benefits of Gallery Representation for Artists
So, why do artists like you seek gallery representation? There are plenty of good reasons:
1. Exposure and Credibility
Having your work in a gallery can immediately open you up to a wider audience. A reputable gallery will automatically come with established relationships with collectors and opportunities for potential collectors to come in and see your work. Galleries bring your art to the eyes of new art collectors and the general public. Additionally, they may take part in events, such as art walks, that bring in even more potential collectors. Being in a reputable art gallery also helps increase your reputation as an artist. That kind of exposure and boost to reputation can increase your credibility in the art community.
2. Networking Opportunities
Art galleries are like the social hubs of the art world. They host openings and exhibitions that attract artists, curators, collectors, and potential patrons. These events are golden opportunities for you to expand your professional network.
Artist pro tip: Attend these festivities and events any time you can. Often galleries love for artists to set up and work on a piece to attract more people to the gallery.
Also read- Importance of Community for Artists
Do you want to expand your network and get involved in a like-minded artists community? Click here to become a member of Cowgirl Artists of America and gain access to many great resources!
3. Marketing and Promotion
Marketing your art can be expensive and time-consuming. But galleries have your back. A good gallery will invest in promoting its artists through promotional materials, events, and advertising, helping you reach a wider audience without breaking the bank.
4. Sales and Financial Support
Let's face it; dealing with sales can be a hassle. Galleries take care of the selling process, handling transactions and even paying your sales tax! Got a collector that needs something shipped? No worries, the gallery will handle it. Having a partner who can handle elements such as purchases and shipping can free up more of your time to be in the studio.
Also read- 10 Best ways to sell your art. How do Cowgirl Artists of America members sell their artwork?
Drawbacks of Working with an Art Gallery
While gallery representation comes with a lot of perks, there are some downsides you should be aware of:
1. Commission Fees
Art galleries typically take between 30% and 50% commission when your art sells. It's a slice of the pie that can significantly impact your earnings. While giving up 30-50% of your sales can feel unsettling, one of the benefits of this model is that you only pay that money if the work sells. On the other hand, you may go to an art festival and spend a significant amount of money upfront with no guarantee to make it back. Nothing is free and thinking through all aspects of various opportunities is an important part of making wise decisions for your business.
2. Limited Control
When your art is in a gallery, you may have limited control over how it's displayed and marketed. The gallery's curatorial decisions might not always match your artistic vision.
Also read- Self-Confidence and Boundaries in Your Art Business
3. Exclusivity Contracts
Some galleries might ask you to sign exclusivity agreements. Always read those contract terms carefully.
4. Gallery Fees
Remember those expenses related to exhibitions? Framing, shipping, promotional materials – you might be responsible for covering these costs, which can eat into your profits. Many galleries cover these costs through the purchase but make sure to read your contract so you know how these things are dealt with and who pays for what.
Also read- How to deal with Stress and Burnout?
Things to look for when partnering with a Gallery
Before you jump into a gallery partnership, here are some things to consider:
1. Gallery Reputation
Do your homework! Research the gallery's reputation. Look for galleries known for treating their artists fairly and professionally.
Artist Pro Tip: If you have a friend who's been represented by a gallery you are considering reach out to them to hear their experience.
2. Gallery's Clientele and Style
Make sure the gallery's clientele and style align with your target audience and artistic goals. Different galleries cater to different markets, so choose one that suits your style.
3. Contract Terms
Contracts can be tricky, so read them carefully. Pay attention to commission rates, exclusivity clauses, and financial responsibilities. Don't hesitate to get legal advice if needed, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or addendums if needed in a contract. Don’t be afraid of contracts and don’t be afraid to discuss them. Contracts protect both you and the gallery.
Artist Pro Tip: Ensure that your contract explains what happens in the event that the gallery changes ownership. There’s a chance your contract may not hold up if the gallery has been sold to a new owner.
4. Communication and Support
Communication is key. A good gallery should keep you in the loop, offer regular updates, and be transparent. They should pay you, respond to your inquiries, and when applicable return art in a timely manner (which should be specified in the contract).
Pitfalls to Avoid when Partnering with an Art Gallery
Don't fall into these common traps when partnering with an art gallery:
1. Rushing into Agreements
Take your time. Don't rush into a gallery partnership without thorough research and consideration. Finding the right fit for your career is worth the patience.
2. Ignoring Legal Advice
Legal stuff might seem boring, but it's crucial. Don't sign anything without reading it thoroughly and getting legal advice when needed.
Also read- How to Handle a Rejection as an Artist & to be Resilient in Art Businesses
3. Overlooking Gallery Track Record
Look for galleries with a track record of successful sales and artist support. Avoid galleries with a history of disputes or financial issues – you don't want to be caught in the crossfire.
4. Not Trusting Your Gut
If something seems off, take some time to consider what you are feeling and why. Our instincts can be an early warning system. Get to the bottom of your feelings, discuss your concerns with a friend or advisor, and try to solve any concerns you have upfront.
5. Neglecting Self-Promotion
Even with gallery representation, don't forget to promote yourself and your art independently. The gallery can help, but you should still be actively engaged in marketing your art and staying engaged and connected with the community and collectors.
In conclusion, art galleries are like stepping stones in your artistic journey. While they offer fantastic benefits, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of gallery representation carefully. Do your research, communicate openly, and consider legal advice when necessary to ensure you form positive and impactful partnerships with galleries.
Most recommended for you- All You Need To Know About Cowgirl Artists Of America (CGA)
Important Note: CGA Members join us on Saturday, October 28th for a discussion with Charles Sublette of Medicine Man Gallery on working with galleries. RSVP in the member space.