The art world, and especially the art market, is always evolving. Economic, social and political trends can all affect changes in the art market. As an artist, you should understand how the commercial art world works so that you can make progress in attaining your professional goals and objectives, especially if you are determined to make a living from your artwork. Regardless of if you are self-published or work with a publisher, at some point you will likely find yourself debating the pros and cons of selling your artwork in a gallery setting.
There are many different types of galleries: large commercial galleries, small local galleries, co-op galleries, galleries housed in non-profit arts organizations, alternative art galleries, rental galleries and even virtual galleries. The artwork featured in a particular gallery might include traditional art, contemporary art, urban art, alternative art or art unique to a specific culture or period. It’s possible that a gallery might only display the work of established artists rather than from emerging artists. The challenge is in discerning which type of venue would be the best fit for you.
Researching and visiting area art galleries would be a great place to start. Check out their websites before deciding which ones to go to. Virtual gallery hopping can save you time and wasted trips as some galleries may not carry your type of artwork or may take an exceptionally high percentage rate in commission upon each sale. When you visit art galleries, introduce yourself to the gallery directors and curators. They can be valuable resources, not only for including your work in their space, but also for introducing you to collectors. Additional considerations would regard what types of exhibits are held, how long artwork remains on display and how long it takes to receive payment for work sold. Large commercial galleries are more likely to result in greater visibility, a higher volume of sales and probability for exposure in significant art publications; however, they are more difficult to get into.
Co-op galleries offer a unique and creative option to traditional galleries. With co-op galleries, artists are required to pay a monthly fee to have their artwork exhibited. Should you choose this type of venue, you will be allotted a specific amount of display space such as 10’ x 10’, and you will probably be responsible for hanging your own art. You will also be required to work several shifts per month; therefore, this is only a viable choice if you have the ability and flexibility in your schedule to spend several days per month working at a co-op gallery. The advantage is that you will learn how to operate a gallery on a day to day basis and will have control over what artwork you show and how it is displayed.
One final tip: prior to sending out your jpegs, artist statement and biography to the galleries you’re interested in becoming affiliated with, verify that they are accepting submissions, otherwise, your work will probably not be seen. Most gallery websites will clearly state calls for artists or entries.