As I have mentioned before I owned and managed a gallery and was quite successful. So when recently I read a post regarding the need of galleries for artists to succeed in the art world my gut response is NO. Galleries are missing their real purpose which is simply promoting art from artists. Without art created by artists, galleries have no product to offer their clients or customers. This line has become very blurred. Galleries have always insisted artist need their services in order to be recognised as a serious artist and in the past was definitely true. Today with a wide range of marketing avenues for the artist it is not so true. Pushing even further that artist need to pay a rental fee for wall space, promotional packets, opening reception costs and then having the audacity to take a 40% - 50% commission. This practice was once only for the vanity gallery but fellow art enthusiasts no more. It is creeping its way into the entire gallery world. Now in these times of uncertainty the galleries who maintain their ethics and gratitude for the artists they represent will surly stay strong at least I hope so.
Where do artist go from here? Anywhere where we artists stay in control of our business. You the artist are the sole proprietorship's or the LLC's or the Inc's of the art business world. Having worked in corporate and retail businesses, the relationship the artist has with galleries is very dysfunctional. Free enterprise is simply produce a product, market the product to your niche, find a buyer and make the sale. OK. An artist paints the painting, markets to a gallery, finds a gallery but this is where I just loose it. The gallery doesn't have to buy the product and in fact has no out of pocket expense except to hang a work of art on their wall. A gallery or business is responsible for their own operating cost, not the artist. If so wouldn't that make the artist a business partner? Many galleries don't even have insurance coverage for your artwork in case it is stolen or damaged. The list supplied by galleries is never ending for many artist. The cost to the average artist well exceeds the saleable price of their work or the time and expense to create the work to begin with. Bottom line the artist makes zip.
When I owned my flower shop, I would buy fresh flowers every other day and sometimes they would die before you could use them. I did not call my supplier and say sorry I could not sell them you need to come and take them back at your loss. Galleries are nothing more than a retail store that sells art. Maybe galleries should buy art directly from the artist or realign their commission rates to 10% - 20% in lieu of an outright purchase. They are not these mystical places where all business sense and practices do not apply. Artist - business is business and you can not be unwilling to engage it. Leave your emotions behind you and step up to demand what you are owed, a fair compensation for your work and creativity.
There are many wonderful galleries in business today and I certainly see the value for artists to show in them. These galleries are becoming fewer and fewer. Things do change so lets change for the better - for the artist.