How Can I Work with a Gallery of Art?

Working with an art gallery is a significant ambition for practically every artist. Sadly, more artists seek representation from galleries than galleries seek out new artists to represent.

Do not randomly contact galleries with artist statements and portfolios, as we have covered in our in-depth post on How To Succeed as a Painter/Artist. Instead, send out a few select galleries of your artist statement and portfolio. The fact is galleries regularly receive unsolicited entries from artists. Consequently, if you submit your portfolio to several galleries, your request will probably be overlooked or buried under a mountain of other submissions. Furthermore, most galleries dislike being continually called and urged to invest in strangers. As a result of this tactic, you run the risk of developing a bad reputation among galleries.

The ‘better’ painters receive invitations from galleries, which is the cause. Gallerists will assume you are not a very excellent artist if you approach them, appearing a little desperate for gallery representation since it seems no one is prepared to represent you. However, this does not imply that there is nothing you can do to improve your chances of getting represented or receiving a work invitation from a gallery.

In our piece How to Succeed as an Artist, we discussed a wide range of subjects about being well-known in the art world. It calls for genuinely differentiating yourself through your style, a strong aesthetic sense and comprehension of art and art history, a mature and well-documented body of work, a professional online presence on your artist website and social media, a positive exhibition history, a strong resume, and, most importantly, being proactive when it comes to networking in the art world.

Building solid relationships with other artists, gallerists, collectors, and critics requires attending openings, seminars, and other art-related activities. Try not to force your aesthetic individuality, though. Being present increases your chances of getting an invitation from an art museum because your name will undoubtedly get out among the right people. It is acceptable to disclose that you are an artist when asked, but if you aren’t being asked, keep your art to yourself and avoid discussing it or displaying images of it.

What does the Artist-Gallery Working Agreement entail?

Depending on the gallery and the artist, the working arrangement between the two parties can differ. There are specific common unwritten laws and agreements, nevertheless. If you’re an artist ready to collaborate with a gallery for the first time or a new gallery unsure of how to approach working with artists, we’ve included the three most typical agreements below:

  • The gallery doesn’t charge the artist fees or commissions for advertising or representation efforts. The only way a gallery (or artist) can make money is by selling the artist’s creations.
  • Profits from sales are typically split 50–50 of the total turnover. It indicates that neither the materials nor other buildings in which specific expenses would be subtracted from the total turnover are considered.
  • The artist and gallery agree on the retail price with a formal price list outlining the donated works for sale. Throughout this procedure, the artworks are still the artist’s property. In accordance, the gallery may, with the artist’s previous consent, provide a 10% discount to a particular clientele. Due to the location and advantages of the artist’s résumé, it is feasible to offer a discount of up to 50% to a museum organization that wants to purchase an artwork. When splitting the turnover under discount agreements, the 50-50 rule applies in every situation.
  • It is not customary for an artist to sell a piece of art assigned to a gallery for sale during a particular exhibition on their own. For instance, the artist must direct a collector back to the gallery if they approach them directly rather than the gallery about purchasing a specific piece of art from the exhibition. Collaboration is founded on mutual trust and respect. Thus selling the artwork on his own without including the gallery to get his due portion is a definite no-no. Sometimes it will be the artist who generates more revenue for the gallery, and other times it will be the other way around.
  • There is a clear cost rule: the gallery bears the cost of producing the exhibition, while the artist (most frequently) bears the cost of having the artworks (think of paint, canvases, etc.). (think of painting the walls in a specific color, the print work for the show, drinks during the exhibition’s opening, pedestals, display cases, and arguably frames, to name a few).
  • The more established galleries will cover all freight charges in terms of transportation costs. The majority of the time, this is the case with well-known musicians. It is customary for up-and-coming artists to cover transportation costs from their studio to the gallery. However, transport expenses from the gallery to the collector or back to the artist’s studio are paid for by the gallery.
  • The gallery assumes all responsibility for any loss, theft, or damage as soon as the artworks arrive at the gallery. Therefore, the gallery must ensure they are insured and handle the art competently and securely.
  • The gallery handles all billing and communications with collectors. The sole need for the artist to get his share of the revenue is to submit an invoice by the end of the performance.
  • All photos continue to be the sole property of the artist and are covered by international copyright regulations. The gallery must approve any use beyond web publication, catalog publishing, or promotion.
  • Before working, it is suggested to discuss these issues to be sure. Put these agreements in writing in your email correspondence so you can refer to them if a dispute arises. A contract may occasionally be suggested or required.

What Purpose Does an Art Gallery Serve?

Each activity carried out by an art gallery has a somewhat different method of conducting business. However, most art galleries do a few tasks that may be viewed as the foundation of their operations.

An art gallery develops a carefully planned exhibition schedule of the represented artists—or artist estates—with whom they have a (long-term) working relationship, fostering and guiding their professional development through selling their works of art and other forms of promotion.

This would encapsulate what art galleries do, and all that goes along with it. Let’s get into some particular components in further detail to be more thorough:

1. Curate the exhibition schedule.

The art gallery establishes an exhibition schedule that will be the foundation of the gallery’s personality. To do this, the art gallery must offer gallery space. For excellent visibility to many possible consumers, galleries frequently lease commercial facilities in large cities, often close to other galleries.

Additionally, the gallery carefully selects its lineup, seeking the most intriguing up-and-coming or renowned artists, and invites them to work with the gallery on an exhibition. The gallery handles the exhibition’s opening and promotion, transportation, insurance, supervision, installation, print work, and press attention.

A solo exhibition features just one artist and can be a standout moment in that artist’s career. The show is referred to as a duo exhibition when it features two artists. One speaks about a group exhibition when there are three or more artists.

A new exhibition opens in most galleries every six to eight weeks, depending on the pace of the gallery.

2. Creating an artist and artist estate portfolio

A gallery would not exist without the artists. The gallery must therefore develop a portfolio of artists and artist estates. This portfolio represents the carefully chosen group of artists that the gallery agrees to define and is the result of a protracted partnership between the artist and the gallery. In contrast to artists from one-time cooperation for a single exhibition, those from long-term collaborations are referred to as represented artists.

Any art gallery must have a portfolio. The artists’ quality in your portfolio will determine how well-known the gallery is. Therefore, it is advantageous for the artist and the gallery to see a particular artist’s career development. The reputation of the gallery increases as the artists do.

Since the gallery serves as a conduit between the artist’s studio and the art market, most collaborations include active artists. This phenomenon is referred to as the primary market. But there are also several partnerships with artist estates. Or, galleries can purchase pieces of art from other dealers, collectors, or auctions rather than directly from the creators to resell them in their space for a profit at a (small) higher price. The secondary market is the name given to this occurrence.

3. Make art sales and distributions

One of the most crucial things galleries do is sell and distribute the works of the artists they represent, organize exhibitions, and develop an excellent roster of artists. The gallery serves as the artist’s dealer, taking all necessary steps to get the artist’s work into a particular public or private collection.

As a result, the gallery must handle various tasks, including shipping, billing, recording sales of art, keeping an eye on art’s worth (on the secondary market), and much more. When there are questions about a particular artist, the gallery becomes the primary point of contact.

4. Support and represent the artists

In addition to the apparent work that goes into planning exhibitions and selling artwork, the gallery represents and supports its artists in various capacities behind the scenes. Along with offering helpful guidance, they work hard to advance and maintain the careers of their artists, allowing them to concentrate solely on creating the works.

Participating in international art shows to promote their gallery and artists are only a few instance of these supporting efforts. Additionally, when it’s time for an artist to have a monograph produced, galleries handle or monitor the book publishing process. Then there are the artist archives, which also require attention. Or the study of art history topics for forthcoming exhibits. The gallery searches for additional, appealing exhibition venues for its artists outside of itself, such as at other galleries or official exhibitions. The press relations department must also be mentioned. They seek partnerships with print and online media such as newspapers, art journals, and websites to promote their artists and reach audiences outside the gallery’s physical boundaries.

Galleries perform a variety of tasks. Depending on the gallery’s level of excellence, its services expand in scope as it completely supports the artist in all facets of the art world.

The Art Gallery: All the Information You Need

Introduction: The Definitive Art Gallery FAQ

In the art world, art galleries are significant. They serve as the intermediary between artists and collectors, identifying fresh talent and preserving the best artists’ work through their exhibition program. There are many misconceptions about art galleries, even though they are essential to the art world. Not everyone is familiar with what an art gallery is or does.

As a result, CAI has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about art galleries. An art gallery is what? What kinds of art galleries are there? What does a gallery of art do? How does an artist become employed by an art gallery? How do artists and art galleries collaborate? What distinguishes a museum from an art gallery? Which are the top galleries for art, and where can I discover them? How do galleries of art make money? How do you enter a gallery of art?

We are delighted to give you the definitive list of commonly asked questions (FAQ) about art galleries by addressing these queries in this article and explaining everything you need to know.

What is an art gallery, exactly?

While most of us have a basic understanding of what an art museum is and what it does, it seems that the general public is less knowledgeable about art galleries.

An art gallery is a place where works of art are displayed and offered for sale. As a result, the art gallery operates as a business with a roster of artists. The gallery serves as the dealer for the concerned artists, promoting and disseminating their works.

Nevertheless, we must remember that not all galleries are created equal. Although most art galleries operate similarly and in structure, some work in a distinct way. In this situation, we will have to go through each type in detail while providing a complete description of an art gallery and the various ways it can be displayed.

What Kinds of Art Galleries Are There?

1. The Commercial Art Gallery to start

The commercial art gallery is the most prevalent kind of art gallery. Despite the negative connotation that comes with the word—as if they solely care about making money—commercial art galleries are the “best” for artists and collectors and play a significant role in the art world.

When working with commercial art galleries, the gallery partners with several artists and agrees to assist and represent them. This indicates that the gallery agrees to display, market, sell, and distribute the concerned artist’s works. The artist can support himself and grow his career, collector network, and body of work by doing this.

In exchange, a commission from the artwork sold goes to the gallery. By doing this, the gallery is inspired to provide the artist with the best work possible, advancing their career and sales. A win-win situation! Both the gallery and the artist profit financially. The prestige of the gallery improves as the artists’ careers progress and are better supported. In a nutshell, the gallery benefits when the artists do.

2. Mega-Galleries

Mega-galleries are commercial art galleries that have expanded and emerged as a dominant force in the gallery business and the whole art world. We described the “mega-gallery” as a highly significant art gallery with many sites, a large staff, and square meters of exhibition space comparable to major museum institutions in our article on the Top 10 of the Biggest Art Galleries in the World.

The highest tier of the gallery sector is made up of the mega-galleries. They don’t just sell their artwork; they also represent only the best global artists. They advise organizations, occasions, and businesses involved in the arts.

3. Galleries of Vanity Art

Vanity art galleries are the following. Vanity art galleries charge artists a fee for the right to display and market their artwork there. Since they lack a program for curated galleries, I would not classify them as art galleries.

Although working with vanity galleries could appear attractive to artists looking to launch their careers as artists, I wouldn’t recommend it to them (be sure to read our article on How To Succeed as a Painter/Artist). Rarely do vanity galleries enjoy a stellar reputation in the art world, good patronage, or a solid collector base? Therefore, they choose artists based less on the caliber of the works than on the depth of their pockets. Most frequently, they would display everyone and anything willing to pay for the show. Therefore, it is unlikely to discover genuinely intriguing or up-and-coming artists at vanity galleries. They have already benefited financially from the partnership. Thus they are not driven to market and sell the works of the artists that choose to participate.

The gallery offers artists the chance to exhibit alongside them, which might sound alluring. However, they overcharge artists for location and promotion services to squeeze money out of them without genuinely caring about the artists’ needs. So if you ever get a job offer from an art gallery, be careful when they suggest terms that require you to pay to display because this might not be the best course of action.

4. Areas for Exhibitions

The fourth kind of gallery is an exhibition space rather than a gallery. In this instance, the artist rents a gallery where they can set up their exhibition. The artist is responsible for paying rent daily or weekly and handling all other responsibilities related to the show, including management, promotion, print work, invitations, etc.

These display areas are frequently referred to as art galleries and are occasionally referred to as “Gallery X” or “Y Gallery.” However, they are only rental rooms appropriate for holding art exhibitions because there is no curated gallery program or even a gallery owner.

Doing this enables amateur or emerging artists to present their work and get some exhibition-related experience. However, the prestige of a self-organized exhibition at those locations cannot be expected to be on par with that of a show at a “real” art gallery, such as a commercial art gallery.

5. Galleries run by artists

The artist-run art gallery marks the end of our list of several sorts of art galleries. We have witnessed numerous artist-run galleries succeeding over the last few decades. Consider Mihai Pop and Adrien Ghenie’s Plan B for the Galeria. In this scenario, independent galleries or exhibition spaces are founded by artists or artist collectives. Lack of opportunity to display is the most frequent cause for doing this, leading people to decide to build their platform.

It takes courage to carry out these initiatives, which are occasionally looked down on. But as the case above demonstrates, an artist-run gallery can be as prosperous and well-known as a commercial gallery. If the artist-run gallery does well in the long run, it will gradually become a commercial art gallery to expand its operations.

How to Construct an Art Exhibition

Holding an art exhibition, whether you’re showcasing your creations or those of other artists, is an enriching event. Nevertheless, it might not be easy to assemble so many various components in a way that is both coherent and significant. Because of this, having a plan is crucial when putting on your art exhibition. Once you’ve decided on a topic for your collection, you can start accepting entries from interested artists, choose a suitable location for the event, and create marketing buzz to get as many people to view and appreciate your collection as possible.

Discovering Art to Display

  • Pick a guiding principle. A vital subject should unify the various artworks and provide the impression that they are a cohesive whole in a good art display. Consider carefully what you want your collection to say. It might be a phenomenon, a picture, a mood, or a specific visual design.
    The best is to make your theme more narrow. For instance, “Black and White” explores a pairing of ideas too broad to have much of an impact, whereas “Isolation and Womanhood” explores one that is considerably more intriguing.
  • Think about naming your display. A catchy title, like “Neon Daydreams,” will draw attention and make the discussed issue more apparent.
  • Choose your best pieces of work. Choose a couple of your most significant or recent results to display. You should have between 10 and 30 distinct parts to say if you’re doing a solo exhibit to promote your work. Each production should have a nod to the exhibition’s topic.
  • Create unique works in the months before the exhibition so you may reveal them for the first time on opening night. Consider displaying more pieces if your work is often on the smaller side.
  • Inquire about submissions from nearby artists. Look into other local artists to see if they would be interested in participating in your exhibition. To provide a more varied and comprehensive presentation, collaborative efforts might be a fantastic opportunity for many different artists to present their work at the same event.
  • Focus on artists with a similar aesthetic or who frequently create pieces that address the subject of your presentation.
  • You can split the cost of the venue, licensing costs, framing, and marketing expenditures if you organize an exhibition with other artists. Make sure to credit other artists for their contributions appropriately.
  • Use a variety of media. It’s not necessary to display only drawings or paintings in your presentation. Please feel free to request artwork from sculptors, photographers, and other visual artists. A diverse range of works will create a lively partnership environment and give your audience more to enjoy.
  • Generally speaking, it is advisable to stick with sellable, framed paintings. However, if the show’s concept aligns with their work, you might consider having poets or musicians read at the occasion.

Setting Up the Event

  • Decide on a time and date. Being realistic with the deadline you set for yourself is essential since organizing an art exhibition requires considerable coordination. To ensure you have enough time to prepare, you should start planning your event at least 2-3 months in advance. If at all possible, pick a date that falls close to the weekend when more people will be off work and seeking local activities.
  • Set up a location. Start looking for a venue where your exhibition will be held. Renting a studio or gallery space is an obvious choice, but you are not only restricted to conventional art venues. You may also inquire at nearby eateries, cafes, community centers, churches, and other businesses to see if they would be happy to host your event.
  • Set a price for your artwork. An exhibition’s main objective is to sell and display an artist’s work. You might consider the price you want to charge for the pieces once you have them ready for exhibition. Try to set reasonable pricing for both you and the buyer while considering the medium, level of technical difficulty, and work involved in creating the piece.
  • Make advertising materials. Print flyers, brochures, one-page informational ads, and posters that succinctly summarise the exhibition’s purpose and the kind of artwork that will be on display. Include important information such as the time and date, location, dress code, and admittance fee (if applicable). You might even consider sending out a press release or conducting an interview with your local news network if your exhibition is a high-profile event.

Implementing a Successful Exhibition

  • Ask someone to lend a hand. Enlist the assistance of volunteers and pros like movers, framers, and lighting specialists. You’ll find it simpler to schedule art deliveries and pick-ups, set up the appropriate tools and displays, and keep an eye on the artwork to prevent damage or theft. A committed staff can make it easier to handle everything on your own and guarantee that the event runs smoothly.
  • Organize the exhibition area. The artwork needs to be hung and placed appropriately as your priority. After that, you can adjust the lighting to ensure that each piece is lighted. Create a final plan that achieves this goal after imagining how visitors would view and interact with the space.
  • Activate the public. Make yourself ready to answer questions and describe the artwork as guests start to arrive. For most artists, this is the most exciting aspect of the exhibition since it gives you the chance to interact with those who will be purchasing and reviewing your work, talk about the finer nuances of your aesthetic, and share insights into your creative process.
  • Provide little snacks. Give your visitors some snacks and drinks while watching the display. Simple appetizers like cheese, fruit, finger sandwiches, and wine will suffice in most circumstances. Considering a sizable audience, consider investing in crowd-pleasers like cocktail shrimp, mini quiches, hummus, and other heartier fare.


I share a lot of things with Arne Glimcher. We both recognize that the art world is frequently viewed as a mystery locale, a far-off realm, or a means of financial gain. Many people have also viewed it as an exclusive and elitist community. However, thanks to technological advancement, the expansion of the internet, and international art fairs, significant progress has been made in demystifying this wonderful and creative world and introducing its many players, including artists, museums, cultural institutions, the media, curators, fairs, auction houses, and, of course, art galleries. For 22 years, I have owned and operated my art gallery. My position has given me a lot of experience and specialized knowledge that have allowed me to articulate a gallery’s significant function and goal within the art industry.

This piece is dedicated to everyone who has and will continue to tell me, “Your work is truly amazing. You earn a lot of money by introducing attractive people to wonderful work.” This is a lovely perception, but the reality is far richer than that.

After years of residing in and contributing to the art world, I finally created my gallery. I studied art history with a focus at Middlebury College in Vermont, where I started my profession. I then moved to Colombia to work at the Gold Museum. In the same city, my career took me to pivotal jobs with the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Department at the Bank of the Republic, working in the museology, curatorial, and editing departments. In defiance of convention, I started an art consulting business with a partner in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was an innovative idea in Colombia. I started my own business, Beatriz Esguerra Art, in 2000.

An art gallery’s primary goal is to support visual artists, promote their work, and provide exposure to the general public, collectors, the media, and other cultural institutions. The gallery also makes unceasing and deliberate efforts to further the artists’ careers and establish them in the professional art world both locally and internationally. A gallery must manage administrative and curatorial staff, provide insurance, secure advertising, invest in and participate in numerous extremely pricey art fairs, develop and set up websites, purchase subscriptions, and organize timely and well-attended events to fulfill this extensive mission. Each art gallery is distinct because it represents and supports a particular set of artists who generally adhere to a specific line and style. For instance, some galleries represent up-and-coming artists, while others champion certain types of artwork, such as abstract or contemporary art, painting on paper, or works by 20th-century masters. People mistakenly believe that any artist may fit in any gallery without considering the vision, objective, and style supported by the particular gallery.

Galleries must plan in-person and online exhibitions of their artists’ work to promote and position their artists. Before an exhibition can officially open, the gallerist must visit studios, choose and curate the artworks, write exhibition texts, draught installation plans, craft and distribute press releases, and organize and produce several live events to introduce the general public, media, collectors, and institutions to the featured artists and their work. For individuals unable to visit the virtual gallery, the gallery must also create an online version of the show and enhance it with videos, interviews, texts, 3D virtual tours, and images.

A gallery must create and maintain a robust online presence across several social media platforms in addition to all of the traditional marketing initiatives and boost its worldwide visibility. The same level of attention must be taken when creating social media content and creating calendars as when managing actual artwork. It is an expensive undertaking that requires imagination, planning, and organization.

To further their careers and raise the value of their work, the gallery also submits its artists’ works for inclusion in public collections, cultural institutions, museums, biennials, and salons.

Galleries are significant in determining how much art is worth. The curriculum of the artist (education, exhibitions, publications, and experience), their talent, the caliber of their work, the cost of the materials, and the laws of supply and demand all play a role in determining their prices.

Choosing an artwork’s price is like choosing an employee’s compensation. The person’s wage will begin lower if they are young, inexperienced, and have a limited CV. Their pay will be higher and continue to rise in value if they are well-known for their contributions and professionalism, have years of experience, and have worked in their sector. As a result, one of the gallery’s primary duties is to ensure that the artworks’ prices align with the artist’s résumé and his status in the art market. Purchasing artwork from galleries ensures that these artists’ careers are appropriately managed and balances the appropriate value of their creations within the commercial art market.

Galleries that spend money to attend international art fairs and display artwork from a particular nation serve as their ambassadors through their displays of that nation’s artwork. They share their culture with the world without assistance from governments or national institutions.

Art galleries’ professional presentation of artists ensures the caliber and reasonable cost of their works of art. The job of a gallerist is to find new talent and show it to the public, media, institutions, and collectors. Free entrance is offered, and they provide a cultural and educational experience.