Building a Successful, Long-term Relationship with Galleries

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What are the greatest challenges you have faced when working with galleries? What have you learned from your experiences? What do you wish galleries would do better in their relationships with you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

 

  47 comments for “Building a Successful, Long-term Relationship with Galleries

  1. July 22, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Your information is always useful because you are a gallery owner and I feel like you are filling my psychie with valuable information. I have never shown but I believe one my art will actually be hanging in an Art Gallery. A future dream of mine. So thank you for stepping me along.

  2. July 22, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Thank you so much, Jason, as always! I love the information you so willingly share. I am presently suffering in a gallery relationship and this helped me, as all your information does. Thank you for your great perspective for artists.

  3. July 22, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I am new to the world of representation by professional galleries.I am learning very quickly.

  4. Stephanie Warner
    July 22, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Jason,
    I have very limited experience with one gallery that I can share. I lived in Texas, the gallery was in California. Definitely, distance and communications were factors. Thankfully, technology will minimize this in future gallery relationships. After representing my work for a year, the gallery closed. The gallery owner/director was professional, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to work with.
    Thank you for today’s video!
    Best regards,
    Stephanie

  5. July 22, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve only been in one gallery out of state for a few months. The owner asked me after a group show there if I was interested in representation, lucky me I thought. Last month she announced she was closing just as she sold a painting of mine. I ended up picking up the rest of my inventory early as I had already planned a trip and had offered to switch out some pieces. I did not have a contract with her. Would it be appropriate to offer to write something up should this happen in the future or is this more of an exception? I have heard horror stories of galleries closing up and artists losing their work. I’d be interested in hearing more about how artists can best protect their end of the relationship. Thanks!

  6. Tina Huston
    July 22, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    I WANT to work with galleries that are professional. They take a huge amount of work off the artist’s shoulders. There is enough to do as an artist without having to be a full-time sales person. Galleries are not going away because of the online sales world. I have bought art online, however, I would never buy a piece over a certain dollar amount online. I would want to see a more expensive piece in person. And there is a certain positive “buzz” that goes on when you walk into a really beautiful, well lit gallery. It’s just fun to buy from a gallery and have the support of a great gallery owner. It makes the piece worth more.

    • July 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      I agree with you their, it is so much more better to view art in a gallery then online.

    • Ta
      July 23, 2016 at 6:33 am

      But you get a 7 / 14 day money back guarantee with online galleries so you can try in your home, office etc.

  7. July 22, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    I have tried getting into galleries and every time it’s the person in charged is not available. Will not return my calls or is not interested. It’s been very difficult for me trying to get into a gallery. I have done two outside art events and I get every person saying how much they look my art work but I have no luck approaching a art gallery or making any sales.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.
    http://www.carpenterartist.com Jeremy Carpenter

  8. July 22, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    I would have to say the biggest challenges have been ones that revolve around the theme of communication. Although I have strived to be in regular contact some galleries are just not as open as others. I guess when they are having issues they fear being honest with artists. However I believe that they miss out the opportunity for help on the artists part (even if its removing work to free up space for them or bringing in new pieces and helping spread word of mouth). I have been lucky though not to have dealt with too many of these.

  9. July 23, 2016 at 12:03 am

    I believe the best thing both the gallery and the artist can do to have an excellent working relationship, is to be honest. I believe if all expectations are discussed, important details of the relationship are in writing, and COMMUNICATION takes place regularly, everyone will be on the same page, with no surprises. If a gallery is struggling, and may have to close its doors, the artist should be made aware of the situation. An artist may need to pick up art before a gallery gets locked by a creditor, etc. If an artist is only willing to commission their work for a certain period of time, the gallery owner needs to know this up front….. and the list goes on. Honesty and communication, two very important pieces to the relationship.

  10. July 23, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Jason,
    I have read and listened to many people with info, webinars and products that are designed to elucidate & educate artists towards finding their own success and financial security. I am thrilled that I found RedDotBlog recently and all of your videos. It is clear that you are very dedicated and this shows. I am getting a ton of practical to do’s and not to do’s that I find motivating. My next round of gallery representation searches will no doubt be better than my last round two years ago. I’m excited to implement my new findings.
    I look forward to your posts daily and am reading you e-books. Gotta say… you’re a breath of fresh air.
    THANK YOU!
    Betty Jo

  11. July 23, 2016 at 12:25 am

    As always, a pleasure to watch your videos.

  12. July 23, 2016 at 1:23 am

    This is the first time I’ve watched one of your videos. I received the information from BOMH. Is the mentorship for all artists…including jewelry artists?

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    Donna

  13. July 23, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Jason,
    I truly enjoyed your videos. Thank you for all of the info you are providing to artists. I am only in the beginning stages of looking for gallery representation so this has been very valuable to me.
    Looking forward to what comes next

  14. July 23, 2016 at 1:55 am

    I am new to galleries and representation and would have been totally lost without your videos. Learning a great deal very quickly. Thank you.

  15. July 23, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Wow. I had no idea it took Dave Newman, one of my favorite Xanadu artists, an entire year to get sales. As a new Xanadu artist myself this year, I am breathing a sigh of relief. After watching this video, I have put follow-up dates on my calendar for the galleries that represent me. I do have a question, though: should new artwork be sent to galleries without discussing first?

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      I love your work, Elisabeth. I would contact the gallery before sending new work.

  16. July 23, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Jason,
    I think this is a very good thing you are doing for artists, helping them find their way! I have painted over 40 years, been through the ups and downs of the Art World! For me, the best way to learn about showing in Galleries was to work for some of the top ones. I learned the art business top to bottom, even envolved in corporate sales! I showed my art work in six top Galleries.
    Your readers need to find a Gallery that has been in business for years and that has a good reputation! Ask yourself if you think your work would fit in with the rest of the art at a certain gallery. Be open to Gallery Owners seggestions. Be willing to work hard and believe in yourself! Find out everything you can about the gallery you would like to sell your art work!
    Steven Huber

  17. Mo Mapes
    July 23, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Thank you for all of the information you give us, Jason- it helps so much hearing your take on representation and also reading the comments from the other artists. I have been in 3 galleries in the last few years and sold some art but I never was able to get the owners to communicate to me when sales were made or just plain try to set up a relationship with me- believe me, I tried. I am now in a new state and it is really hard to make new friends but I’m trying by joining an art alliance and hopefully I can learn which galleries might be a fit for me- it sure takes time!

    Thanks again for your videos- you do an excellent job!

  18. Susie Seitz King
    July 23, 2016 at 4:29 am

    I had a *lightbulb moment when you encouraged us to work as a partnership with gallery owners. I have yet to pursue gallery representation for several reasons. One is the rumor that gallery owners look to the artists as if they are doing us a favor by hanging our work. By presenting ourselves in a professional manner and showing the gallery that we want to help them move art, it breaks down that barrier. Like you said, gallery owners are people, too. As most things in life, it’s always better when we work together for a common goal. Thank you for breaking down some of the fear of approaching galleries. Your videos have been very helpful.
    P.S. I enjoy seeing the different art behind you in each video. Inspiration is everywhere!

  19. Sandy Dimond
    July 23, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Love you videos, thank you. My biggest hurdle has been not having a functional web site. Am in the process of developing web site which will develop into something much more well developed as my business grows. All the galleries I have approached so far need the web site first, then they will talk. $5000+ is not easy with limited sales. But I am getting there

    Thank you for your wonderful presentations.

    • July 23, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Sandy,
      Did I read this correctly and you’re paying $5,000+ for a website? oh oh….if you can create artwork, you can certainly make your own website. Many inexpensive or free sites with templates are out there for artists with dependable companies.

  20. Henry Jensen
    July 23, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Hi Jason,
    I am enjoying your videos very much. They are a light in the darkness. The latest simply re-iterates my view of the qualities one needs to be successful in any business. These can be reduced ultimately to Integrity and professionalism.
    Kind regards,
    Henry Jensen

  21. July 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    These videos are great, Jason. Not only in that they offer some insight into the gallery side of the business, but also because you ask questions that further my inner and outer dialogue. I always find the best “teachers’ are the ones who ask the most questions, instead of only giving advice.
    That said, I’m afraid one of the biggest issues with galleries has been that I didn’t follow up after shows. I guess I assumed that they would if they were interested and that I shouldn’t bother them because they are that busy. I suppose it’s too late to go back now since it’s been a few years but I will certainly keep any new galleries that I show in up to date.
    I haven’t run into issues with any gallery I’ve shown in but I also haven’t had any long term relationships with any. I can see now that I might in the future.

  22. July 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    your videos are so helpful, however, Ive only ever managed to have my work exhibited in one gallery and before I could build any kind of relationship, they closed down! I used the internet to find them and sent out images to them and many more at the same time. They were the only ones to get back to me. As for actually knocking on gallery doors to get noticed………….oh no…..far too shy, actually have no clue as to how anyone can approach perfect strangers like that………so im probably never getting into another one unless one of my hundreds of emails actually picked up. But I keep watching the videos etc., they are good.

  23. July 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Nice to learn about some best practices when working with a gallery. It reinforces what I have been doing. Greatest challenge right now is -if my giclee. prints sell but artwork is slow (3 peices in two years), should I move on and leave it as a print sales gallery. It’s close to where I live so it’s nice to be represented in the best local gallery. Another challenge is to motivate them to let me refresh work without feeling like I am bugging them. A fear I have is shipping work to galleries further away and what sort of costs I am looking at for a large shipment or is that the galleries expense. I ship one offs to clients from website sales and those are charged to the client.

  24. Susanne Sheffer
    July 23, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Question: Jason, would you say there’s a difference between on line artist association with a gallery and hanging your work in a gallery. Do the same rules apply (one year without a sale etc) or is there more flexibility for the on line association?

    • July 23, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Good question. Online is different. If you are paying for the relationship, 1 year is probably enough to judge how effective it is. If the online venue is letting you show your work for free, even if you aren’t having regular sales, the exposure may be of some value to you – as long as it isn’t costing you time.

  25. July 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Hello, Jason,
    As a new subscriber to RedDot via my local arts association recommendation, with a new series of paintings, and at a new stage of life, your service of honesty, experience, professionalism and optimism is a breath of fresh air which will propel and carry me forth!

    Thank you very much. Wishing you continued success in your own creative vocation!
    best regards,
    Chillon Leach

  26. July 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    This was a very timely video for me. I am currently represented by 2 galleries, one in my hometown and one in another state. Neither has sold any of my work for over a year although there were sales in the past. I paint primarily traditional still lifes with a contemporary feel and get many complements on my art work but the galleries state that still lifes just don’t sell well. People love my work but just don’t buy it. This has led to me not creating new paintings as I have such a backlog of paintings. I am switching out paintings with one gallery soon and will be featured in a show there in the fall. I’m just not sure of the way to go now. I haven’t approached any new galleries recently and need to do that. Thank you for all your good information, Jason!

  27. July 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Jason If more gallery owners were like you it would be so much easier to get in. What really frustrates me is that the decision is out of my control and in the hands of someone (usually rude) who never answers my inquiry.This is especially maddening when you are in a niche market and there are only a limited number of galleries to choose from.Ihave had situations where the sales staff loves my work and knows they can sell it, but the all- powerful owner/ director just says no… end of discussion. It is maddening but I have had some sucessful gallery relationships in the past and stillthink there might be another good one out there. For me it is an intimidating opportunity.

  28. July 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Good stuff, Jason. My biggest take away from this video is using Xanadu as a measuring stick of a successful gallery and comparing that to the relationship we have with ours. Early in my career I had two satisfying and profitable gallery associations; in late years, the economy, relocating, not so much. Because of those disappointments I’ve made the decision to move on again. Your comments convinced me I made the right decision.
    Now to implement it ….

  29. July 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Jason,

    Thank you so very much for all that you do to help artists understand the art business. Somehow, the topics for your presentations always reach me when It’s information I need to know at that time. You’ve given me the confidence to approach galleries again after many years of staying away from them because of bad experiences in the past.

    Thanks again, Pam

  30. July 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Jason you were right about giving one year. I gave 18 months and it was a waste of time. Just because I didn’t want to hurt feelings. I forgot that it was not about friendship but about business and sales.
    I’m organized. I was there to every show they did even though my work was not participating. Just to build relationship and create a network. I considered them as friends.
    But now I see that it is not personal. They didn’t know how to sell. Their sales were almost nothing, later I found out.
    They just created a bubble of noise and glamor about them. Just void.
    Now I grew up and I know…

  31. July 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I appreciate your thoughts on rotating inventory. This is something I have wondered about, and am glad to have some insight on it.
    I am on Xanadou’s on-line gallery, and wonder if this applies to that type gallery, too. How much is too much? Should older work be removed if it hasn’t sold?
    Do you ever accept someone from your on-line gallery to display in the street gallery?
    So many questions! Thanks for sharing your insightful experience!

  32. July 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    When I call a gallery manager or owner (with my work in their possession), I’m often pleasantly surprised to discover they are more than a little glad I touched base. “I wish more artists did that,” she/he says, also surprising me. When I express that I value their time and think twice before interrupting them, I’m reassured that they prefer such interruption over ambivalence. “Your followup calls and emails tell me that you are still interested,” they say. I suppose it is like any other healthy relationship — time, attention and explicit expressions of interest go a long way to pump fresh, warm blood into the union.

    Also, to better understand things from the gallery’s point of view, I imagine the logistics of a particular arrangement, such as the timeline of an artwork delivery. Then, if in doubt, I call for clarification: “I’d like to add another protective finish on this piece. However, that would take another 3 days for curing, making a Saturday delivery instead of Friday. Does that still work for you or do you prefer the Friday delivery over the added finish coat?” This opens up the dialogue so that I meet with the galleries preference. “Oh! I want that piece here sooner than later because I’ve invited some out of town visitors for an after-hours tour. Any chance you can get it to me by Friday morning?” she asks. “Yes!” I say, then hop to it with the shipping arrangement. Glad I called BEFORE I added the extra layer of finish.

    It pays to touch base; to seek clarification; to open up a discussion, just in case.

  33. July 23, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Jason, thanks for providing such timely and complete information regarding gallery representation and building a strong and lasting relationship with a gallery. I am now in that place where I have a suitable body of work and the confidence of a growing sales record that I am now working toward gaining representation outside of my local town. Using tips from your book “starving to successful” I have recently landed my first out-of-town gallery and want to build a good relationship with the owner and manager. Thanks for your insightful information.

  34. Nitin
    July 24, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Mentorship is a great idea,unfortunately I live in London ! I am learning a lot from videos and articles.thank you.
    NitinKumar Amin

  35. July 25, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you for the great information. Wow!

  36. Cindy Millikin
    July 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    The mentorship is a wonderful opportunity! Thank you for doing this!

  37. July 26, 2016 at 12:10 am

    This information sounds wonderful and very progressive. I am impressed by the well thought out process for juring work into your gallery.
    I have worked on and off with galleries, but mostly have been an exhibition artist in juried and museum exhibition while working full time. I am now retired and have time to discover a way to place my work in galleries. I just completed a book on watercolor techniques. I have a collection of original work and am producing new work for studio openings continuously. My question is , how much artwork is required in what period of time, to consistently rotate pieces every 3 months? I am wondering about the committment of time to produce enough quality pieces as required. Are dirivative works like Giclee prints also considered.
    Thank you.

  38. July 27, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Dear Jason,
    I doubt that I qualify for any of your wonderful programs/information/marketing. I am 83 and have a body of work including oil and watercolor paintings. My greatest challenge has been in placing a value on my work. Austin (TX) galleries seem to place highest value on non-objective design art rather than realistic representation.
    As you can see on my website, http://www.classicoilpaintings.net, my heart and soul is in attempting to capture a slice of life.
    I enjoy and have become truly better informed by your newsletter articles and advice, but at my age, I know younger artists will be best served by your monitoring, catalogue and gallery.
    Any suggestions or advice will be most appreciated.
    Kindest regards,
    James Cochran

  39. July 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Great advice on establishing quality relationships with galleries! I’m looking forward to putting this advice into action. Thank you so much!

  40. August 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    This is very helpful.

  41. August 13, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Great advice Jason and makes complete sense.

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