gallery representationAre you an independent artist who is seeking out gallery representation? Being represented by a gallery can have a positive effect on an artist’s career. You may have more opportunities of selling art, build a larger list of contacts, and gain more notoriety in the art community and general public.

Also, building a larger collection of artwork will be easier, since you will have the time to devote to it. In spite of this, you will not have the artistic freedom that independent artists enjoy.




We will be discussing the advantages of each, and let you decide the one that is best suited to your case.



Advantages of Gallery Representation


  • Being represented by a gallery generally gives your art a higher status in the art world. As you build a body of work, have more art shows, and sell art, art collectors place more value on your artworks. With increasing fame, you may find certain collectors wanting to own your art simply because you produced it, or you are represented by that particular gallery.


  • You will have more opportunities to show your art, even with solo shows. The gallery may arrange 2 or 3 solo shows a year, depending on the art you create.  


  • Galleries market your art in places that you may not have access to, such as museums, art collectors, businesses, and others.  


  • The media may be more responsive to your art. Before a gallery show, the gallery often contacts the local media. The artist may have a review in a newspaper, or be asked to appear for a television or radio interview. This can certainly dramatically increase your public awareness. Independent artists may benefit from the same type of exposure, but the onus is often on them to contact the media. 


  • Benefit from the fans of other artists at the gallery. A gallery show is open to the general public, especially after the opening. The public may be accustomed to viewing the works of others, but now they will have the opportunity of seeing yours. In this way, the gallery can help artists benefit from the fans of others who often show there.


  • You will have more time to focus on creating a collection, and let the gallery do the marketing. Many artists do not have time for art promotion. Galleries often have a list of regular art buyers and organizations to market your art. They also are responsible for arranging the art show. This leaves plenty of time for you to freely create, without worrying about other tasks. 


Advantages of Independent Artists


  • Being self-represented, artists do not have to depend on galleries to make money. The sell and marketing of your artworks will be on your own terms. 


  • Can keep 100% of the profit from sales of your art.   


  • It is quite possible to be successful at supporting yourself on your own, and many are doing so.


  • Your art can be sold much cheaper than in galleries, since they take a percentage, which is usually around 50%. This percentage can be added or taken away from your usual charge. If it is added, your artworks will double in price. If it is taken away, artists will earn only half of what they were before.


  • Will not have to abide by a contract with a gallery, which often states that you can only sell through them, at set art prices. In such cases, if you did your own marketing for your art, the gallery would still get a percentage of the profit.


  • Artists can sell their art through whatever means possible, without having a gallery looking over them. Galleries often require a commission of any art sold elsewhere through your own efforts.  


  • Can create what you want, not how the gallery wants you to. Galleries tend to pressure artists into producing artwork that sells. There will certainly be an immense amount of pressure to do this. If your art is not selling, they will certainly find other artists that do sell. Remember, a gallery is a business. They have to earn money to pay the utility bills and their employees. If they are representing you, they will want you to sell as much as possible, and this may directly affect the art that you are creating.


  • No chance of being ripped off by a gallery with self-representation. If you are selecting a gallery, be sure they are reputable and established. Some artists have been known to be ripped off by galleries. This should not discourage anyone from looking for a gallery. In every profession, there are certainly a few bad apples. 


Gallery Representation or Independent Artist?


Attract Galleries

The choice is up to you, but galleries have some strong points in favour. Why? Think of it this way. Independent artists often have to devote a huge amount of time to build their art career on their own. In doing so, they may not have the time to dedicate to creating…  that they would have if someone else were controlling the art marketing aspect. Galleries do control the marketing and exposure, which allows artists more time to create. So, if the right gallery can be found, the artist may benefit in the long run.


Please understand, we are not trying to say all artists should seek gallery representation. There are many independent artists who support themselves very well. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But, in making that choice it certainly helps to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.


So, if you are an artist who has little art marketing experience, or little time for it, you will do well to seek out a gallery. On the other hand, if you like having complete control over your art career, you should be self-represented.

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  1. I am an artist and have worked for galleries in the past as an employee.

    I would first like to cover the item "Galleries market your art".

    They sometimes do. However, most galleries are not good at marketing. This is true for most small business. Also, they usually only market what they are showing that month. I'm generalizing here.

    Artists should never sign a contract stating that the gallery is the only point of purchase for the artist's work. That is just stupid.

    Artists should negotiate a contract favorable to both parties. After all, it is a partnership. Also, if it weren't for artists and their work galleries would not exist. Not the other way around.

    We need to take control of our careers and do what is best for us.

    The current art gallery model is questionable. Look at how many galleries go under every month. There are many reasons for this but it is best not to put all eggs in one basket.

    Artist need to price their work accounting for a gallery's take (50% +/-). That way they have the option to sell independently and through a gallery.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. @Matt Mikulla

    Thanks for your insights!

    I agree completely... artists should certainly be careful about what kind of contract they sign. Like any contract, it should not be signed without knowing all the stipulations.

    Obviously, having gallery representation requires lots of thought and planning. I have a few thoughts on this subject also, and I plan on sharing them here soon.


Thank-you for your comment!