Thursday, September 15, 2011


Get Into More Galleries? Then Don’t Compete With Them!
August 20, 2010

Because of the down economy most artists will take a sale any way they can get it. Artists are trying to sell from their own website and in addition from online shops like Cafe Press, Zazzle and Red Bubble. These same artists come to me and complain that they have trouble getting their work into art galleries. Artists can not have it both ways, in that galleries will not want to represent an artist who they think they will have to compete with when it comes to selling that artist’s work. Why is this and what can artist do about this?

I believe that an artist needs to understand why the art gallery exists. The gallery exists to make money! Today’s artists would do far more gallery work if they thought like a gallery owner and realized it is a business. The gallery owner has gallery overhead such as rent, utilities and insurance. In addition, there are also administrative expenses, marketing costs and employee salaries to cover each month. Running an art gallery is not easy or cheap and especially is not easy when the economy is poor.
If a gallery is to take on your art for representation or for consignment purposes they would not want that same artist to become a competitor who is also selling their art online or through other sources, for less. To the gallery owner, it is unethical and wrong for them to cover the costs of operating the gallery, then have the artist “under cut” them on price. This situation also becomes a “value issue” when the gallery is trying to market and sell the artist’s work. The price that the gallery is offering to the buyer or the art collector is the “best price”. To be able to purchase the same art at a discount or at price lower than what the gallery is offering, eventually makes that art even worth less in the long run.

A gallery or an art consultant has a much better chance to sell that same art due to their art backgrounds, training and contacts than an artist does with an online store. Serious buyers and collectors of art usually consider buying only through reputable galleries and art dealers. Besides purchasing a piece of art due to its intrinsic beauty or value, a buyer is also purchasing that art as a long term investment. How can a reputable art gallery sell your art to a collector knowing that the buyer could buy the same art cheaper somewhere else? Believe me, they would not do this and stay in business very long. If this is the case, then you are doing the gallery operator, the art buyer and ultimately yourself a disfavor. Let me explain why this so. If what is being sold by the gallery is not the real price, then the buyer of the art is overpaying for the art and that is not right either. Finally, when all is said and done, your art is cheapened, the art is not worth as much as it should be and eventually you will be the only one who will want to sell your art. You will not be able to attract art galleries if that is the game you are playing.

Yes, there are unscrupulous buyers and collectors of art who will be introduced to certain art pieces or to an artist, only to have that buyer, bypass the gallery and go deal direct with the artist. What that buyer is doing is trying to cut out the gallery, with the hope of the artist eliminating the part of the price that would normally go to the gallery. Has the artist come out a head of this transaction? Not really. Therefore the gallery has lost, the artist has not come out ahead and I believe that the buyer has bought a piece of art that not worth as much too! Everyone just lost something in this example. The “losing” is just in varying degrees, to each participant, and it occurs at different times and stages for each party.

As an artist, if this is how you will conduct your art career, art galleries will probably not want to represent you as an artist. If this is the artist’s choice to go this way, then you should forget trying to sell your art through galleries and do not complain about not getting in to galleries to sell your art.

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