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Are Commercial Galleries Essential to Artists?

Are Commercial Galleries Essential to Artists?

Ian Davenport at Paul Kasmin gallery, Photo by by j-No. Courtesy Creative Commons

Valerie Atkisson | ArtBistro

Galleries Will Sell Your Work

A dealer’s connections can be a huge boon to selling your work. Dealers know collectors who may be interested in your work. Many collectors rely on dealers to help guide them with their collections and educate them about new artists. Many galleries have relationships with galleries in other cities and countries making it possible to show your work to a broader geographic audience. Most importantly some galleries have relationships with museums that would help your work become acquired. Try to find out from others in the art community how well connected the gallery is that you are interested in. This may be a determining factor if they are the right fit for your ambitions.

A Professional Venue for Your Work to Be Seen

Context for artwork can have a very big influence on how the work is interpreted by viewers and collectors. Many people buying art would rather go through a trusted dealer whom they know rather than contacting an artist directly to buy their work. Showing your work in a commercial space gives it a professional context.


Some artists are good business people and promoters of their work; they may not feel the need for a gallery to represent them. However, for many artists getting gallery representation is the start of an exciting career. To do this work on your communication skills with your business and personal relationships. If you have success in other areas of you life where you have partnerships, a gallery relationship will likely be a good one for you. Try to improve your business and relationship skills if you struggle with them.

ArtBistro featured writer Amy Wilson has this to add about on-going relationships with galleries:

“Like all serious relationships, the one that exists between the ”">gallery and the artist needs to be based on mutual respect and open communication. Figure, you are leaving your work at the gallery and then you are going home (or to your studio to make more) – which means that the gallery is in the situation of presenting your work to the public, answering any questions they may have, and explaining what you do and why you do it. It is incredibly important that they understand you and your work, and that they take the time to really listen and find out why you make the work you do."

Be cautious about entering into contracts with galleries with which you have little experience or are not aware of their reputation. Ask your fellow artist friends, ArtBistro friends, or contact an artist they represent for further information. While a foot in the door is an advantage for any artist, there are some galleries known to take advantage of artists. Needless to say, these should be avoided. Checkout ArtBistro’s gallery rating feature to be sure you’re entering into contract with a fair and reputable gallery.

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