A Case for Gallery Representation
As a professional artist, a strong case can be made for the key role the gallery and gallerist play in the life and success of a visual artist. An on-going discussion of gallery representation for artists questions the need and reasonableness of the percentage of art sales retained by the gallery at the expense of the artist. This is a short-sighted view of the importance of the role the gallery plays in the career and development of the artist. I have spent time perfecting my artistic voice and techniques, while the gallerist has spent time honing business, marketing, and promotional acumen.
My job, as a successful artist, is to maintain studio hours in which I develop concepts, perfect my technique and create the work that defines my career. Without the gallery, I would be pulled away from the studio to address the needs of my art business. These duties would include records from sales, inventory, tax records and all other accounting duties. Sales of the work would involve packing, shipping, and or delivery of the work. A major role of the gallery is publicity and marketing of the work through social media, press releases, articles and print materials. This does not even begin to address exhibitions and all that involves; from identifying spaces, transporting work, designing and installing the work, staging receptions and special viewings, and finally striking, packing and returning work to clients or to storage. If I were to do all of these things myself, I would have little time to actually create the work.
One cannot be an expert in all things. I have no aptitude or inclination to learn, let alone, become an expert in the many duties the gallery performs for me. A good gallerist has connections and a client base, makes contacts, educates the public to the value of art and the voice of each individual artist, and teaches clients how to develop and maintain a collection.
An eye for good art and the knowledge of the art market and its trends, serves the artist in myriad ways from placement of work, sales, constructive critiques, to the pricing of the work.
Expenses associated with the development of artist’s career and the promotion of the work is the responsibility of the gallery. These costs include all overhead involved in maintaining a physical space, bills incurred to promote, ship, develop relationships, hold receptions, install shows, and countless other details of running the business. As an artist, I have the cost of creating the work and maintaining my studio. The percentage of sales maintained by the gallery, is in effect, the fee I pay the gallerist much as one would pay any professional who does work for you. Without the partnership between gallery and artist, many artists would not be able to maintain and thrive in their chosen work and careers.
From Caren: I’ve asked some of the artists what their thoughts are on galleries and representation, after fielding a few comments from potential collectors, so that the public may better understand an artist/gallery relationship. It’s so important that we make the case for each of us having our own, critical, valuable role to play in this business. I’m proud of what I do for the artists and for the community. I hope only to convey that my ultimate purpose is to expose and introduce great artists to this great city.
Char has shown with Muse Gallery for years. I am passionate about Char’s work; so passionate, in fact, that I own one or two myself.