I’m feeling a little like “Miss Manners” right at the moment, but I heard a story the other day, from someone who owns a gallery, about a recent interaction with an artist. The long and short of it, without revealing too much personal information about the parties involved, was that the artist pulled out of a scheduled show, 2 weeks before the show was due to open. It was not done with good grace, or for a good reason, but with snarky emails and demands befitting a diva, not an emerging artist. ( By the by, this would be considered bad behavior for ANYONE)
There are good reasons both to be represented by a gallery or not to be represented by a gallery. Artists need to consider all the ramifications of both ways of conducting their art business. I find that the first step, that of deciding on your goals and direction, is a crucial one, and one that many artists don’t ever consider. This is not to say that your goals don’t change over time, only that you need to be clear about what it is that you want to do with your art, and make conscious decisions every step of the way. Once you do decide to show with one or more galleries, there are some do’s and don’t’s that will serve you AND your gallery well.
- Be clear about your goals and abilities.
- Set schedules in writing, as well as housekeeping details, like approximately how many paintings you can have by a certain date.
- Double check within a week of delivering or picking up work, that the agreed upon date still works.
- If you have special needs or concerns, talk about them and strive to reach a compromise, rather than making absolute demands. (this goes both ways)
- If you can’t do something or make a deadline, let your gallery know as soon as possible.
- Don’t be snarky.
- Ask at the outset, when you schedule a show, what the gallery wants and when do they want it. Write it down. Create a calendar for yourself that lets you see well in advance of when things are needed.
Here’s what you get when you sign on with a reputable gallery:
- A full time sales staff.
- A beautiful, well lighted place to show your work.
- Cool color postcards to send to your friends and collectors!
- Someone who doesn’t make money unless you do!!!!!! And all of this at no charge to you( other than your operating expenses, which granted are big enough already, thank you very much!) UNTIL THEY SELL SOMETHING.!!!!! If that isn’t motivation for them to sell your work, I don’t know what is.
Selling work through your gallery to your friends and collectors helps keep the doors open. A well located, well run gallery will also draw a new audience to your work, after all your friends will only buy so many of your paintings, and then what? I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes over the years when working with galleries. I like to think that I’ve learned from them and am a much better person to work with now. I’m also sure I will make more mistakes in the future, but that’s life, isn’t it? Next tme, I’ll talk about life outside the gallery system.
Till then, keep painting.
Ps new post today on new painting in progress, Exuberance