Most artists look upon galleries as the business arm of our creative pursuits and our efforts to make a living at art. Galleries are definitely less work than doing art fairs, and we love the thought of our artworks hanging somewhere getting constant exposure and selling while we continue to do what we really want to do: paint.
I've been in a number of galleries, all in towns known for being artzy communities. While all but one of those galleries have made sales, I was never overwhelmed with piles of $$$s. And after galleries take their commissions (anywhere from 40-60% of the price you see next to the art), and especially if it takes a long time to receive a check from the galleries, one begins to wonder if there isn't a better way to make and sell art.
The trouble with galleries is at least two-fold:
- They like working on consignment. There is no upfront cost to them. Essentially free inventory.
- They seem to be full of ideas about what they want the artists to produce. Bigger, smaller. Try some other subject matter, or try a contemporary slant on what you do (in other words, I like what you make, but make something else). Do it on speculation -- no obligation to them when you do different things. Gallery owners supposedly know their clientele, and I always thought following their advice would be a good idea. We-e-l-l...
- I've resolved not to agree to consignment deals anymore. I can't afford to. Wholesale only. I believe that gallery folks are more likely to work at selling their art when they've made that financial commitment. They'll want to get their money back and then some!
- No more taking advice. I do what I do, and if that isn't want the galleries actually want, don't take (buy) my paintings. Simple, huh?
For now, I'll keep painting, at a rate of speed that I'll be comfortable with, and painting only those things I want to paint. (I'm not even doing commissions at this time). Let's hope it all works out in the end.