As an artist who has been representing, marketing, and promoting myself for 25 years with some modicum of success, I’m offering here my views on traditional gallery as opposed to self-representation. -Janet Glatz
1. Professional sales staff
Gallery directors and staff say they know who will fall in love with your work and they will make sure these people get a chance to look at it. Then they will sell it to them. Maybe.
JG: You know more about your work than anyone else does. Art dealers have developed a “pitch patois” that could apply to anybody’s work at any given time in a many cases. In my experience, buyers simply want the story behind the painting, and you can give it to them.
2. More Time to Create
As an independent artist, you have to focus both on creating art as well as promoting it. When you are represented by a gallery, they handle the marketing for you which gives you more time to create and to practice. You don’t have to stress about the sales, the publicity or even the exhibition. With gallery representation, you have all the time to focus on your art.
JG: This is crap. Any artist who thinks he can drop the reins and let the gallery do all the work is delusional. You still need to market yourself. You still need to attend a lot of events at the gallery. You still must maintain the business side of your art practice.
3. The Value of Your Art
Art collectors will consider your works more valuable if you are represented by an established gallery. Just having the gallery name attached to your works can get you what your works are really worth in almost half the time it would take you otherwise. Before your art even goes up on the wall, the gallery director carefully evaluates your works, making sure that your art is priced fairly.
JG: Galleries price works on what they think the market will bear, on the profit they need to represent your work, and on how the rest of the work in their gallery is priced. It often has very little to do with any rational evaluation. Remember, the artist gets no more than 50% of a sale, (and often has to wait for it for a while); chances are, If you sold it yourself, you’d still get somewhere near the same money, plus you’d have it in your hand and there’d be no push and pull about payment.
Galleries are supposed to focus on artist promotion and exposure. Big established ones have a professional staff of writers, designers, and managers who help artists with their personal profiles, digital representation as well as advertisements.
JG: Emerging artists, however, should not expect to get accepted by anything other than a local or regional gallery that has a fraction of the promotional budget.
6. Gallery Events
Galleries often organize parallel events along with exhibitions such as artist talks and workshops. These give you a chance to meet more influential people and build contacts in the art world. Galleries also regularly participate in larger events like art fairs and bienniales. An opportunity to be exhibited as part of a gallery’s collection at such prestigious events is every artist’s dream.
JG: Key words: events, art fairs, art walks. You can participate in all of these on your own through an artists’ organization or co-op without having to give up half your profit.
As an artist, you are constantly looking to make connections with the right people to help you or to collaborate with. In a gallery setting, finding like-minded people is incredibly easy. Not only do you get to meet many other established as well as emerging artists but also important and influential people.
For more about and by Janet Glatz, visit www.janetglatz.com