As astounding as this may seem, the gallery system has been in place as long as buying and selling art has been around, so the quicker you learn the basics, the more effort and heartache you’ll save. Opening an art gallery is a difficult task, as most galleries are sustained by the continuous sale of quality art, along with an infusion of clientele. Galleries must cultivate friendships amongst artists and the media, and must be independent and ready to carve out a place in an already bustling market.
There’ll be plenty of time for galleries later, if you are just beginning you should think about coffee shops, furniture showrooms, hair salons, renting an exhibition space, private viewings at someone’s home, juried shows, or anywhere else you can get people through the door. Get on gallery email announcement lists, go to museum shows, talks and open studios, because they are especially good, and keep on going. Artists progress from show to show during the course of their careers, but not in a random way, as certain kinds of art end up at certain galleries, museums and art venues.
In the past several decades, contemporary art practice has not only pushed the boundaries of art itself but also the position of the artist who sells works as individuals instead of seeking representation. The more people who see your art, the greater the chances someone might own a gallery and be impressed enough to convince someone to contact you, and so forth, just how gallery shows originate. Being represented by a gallery has proven to be a beneficial option time and again.
The upshot of repeatedly seeing is that you begin to see the same people over and over again, and sooner or later they find out who you are, so you’ll be able to share information, just like everybody else, in addition to becoming known. While working with a gallery does provide a seal of approval, are you actually selling your artwork? An occasional art star appears suddenly out of nowhere, but these occasional anomalies can become predictable, just like in any other profession.
Each sold piece acts as its own stamp of approval, but it’s become clear that galleries are no longer the only option for selling your art successfully, so check out some other worthwhile ways to cut galleries out and make a successful living. Learning your area art scene geography doesn’t mean that anyone is going to do anything for you, and you won’t get yourself a show just because you met the owner so just like everyone else, you need to make your way on the ladder. If you think all you have to do is hunker down in the studio, you will find out that approach to getting shows will likely get you nowhere, as there is no substitute for getting yourself out in public at events, wherever you can.
Therefore, if you want to know which gallery is right for your art business, just make a pro-con list.