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Get Your Work in an Art Gallery & Sell It

Get Your Work in an Art Gallery & Sell It

Rhonda Schaller | ArtyShark

Relationships: Dealers and Curators

Art Dealers are a part of the art-as-commerce equation. Curators are part of the art-as-education equation. Artist-run galleries, Co-ops, alternative spaces, juried shows, and the Internet are making it easier for artists to find a market on their own. It comes down to relationship building. It takes time and effort, but it is the most important aspect of being an artist.

You will need to build relationships with one or more of the following: dealers, curators, collectors, critics, friends and family who will buy your work, and other artists – throughout your career.

Some artists who operate outside the art world structure have a harder time ending up in museum collections and private collections, and the dealer is the main contact to enter into established public collections. I have found it satisfying to create relationships with Museum curators and collectors directly as an artist, and have found my way into their collections through those relationships.

Newspaper reviews are egalitarian, and self-producing artists can find their way into the “public” press easily. Online Webzines and blogs are great ways to get the word out about your work as well. However, a commercial gallery can provide additional market opportunities beyond what an artist might find on their own. A dealer can help raise prices if they have a strong collector base, and that is nothing to sneeze at. And, if they have a decent advertising budget, can create higher audience traffic through well placed articles and more reviewer opportunities with art magazines. This can lead to higher price points.

Being Self-Produced vs. Working with a Gallery

The advantages of working with a commercial gallery in my view can include:

• Reviews in major art magazines • Larger audience and higher prices • Easier access to senior curators who control purchase awards for museums • Greater likelihood of high volume sales • Feeling validated as an artist

But the disadvantages can include:

• Finding a gallery who will work with you in the first place can be a dispiriting adventure, ego deflating and down right frustrating and demoralizing • Once you get a dealers attention, it can take years before your first show • Making enough money to split with the dealer • Not being allowed to take creative risks in your work • Not being able to deviate from a style that is selling well • Being locked into a relationship and a showing cycle that is unfulfilling

Working with a commercial gallery does not mean they do all of the work for you, that they make you a star, that you are set for life, or that you still don’t have to pay out of pocket for advertising or other show related costs.

It is a business partnership, not a supportive family. Be mindful of your ego here, and the need to say “ My dealer says…blah, blah, blah..” at parties or to your fellow artists to validate your artistic identity.

Next: Advantages of Being a Self-Produced Artist →

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