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.