As a promotional venue, Agora Gallery often receives questions from artists who are interested in learning about different methods of representation. Because of the several options now available to artists, it can be confusing and often times difficult to make decisions unless an artist has all the facts. To that end, this guide provides information which explains the various options available to artists.
The more commonly known model of a gallery is the commission-based gallery. These galleries make a profit from the sale of the artwork. Commissions for the galleries are typically 50% – 60% and can be as high as 75% of the selling price of the artwork. Many of these galleries, if not all, require that an artist shares their mailing list with the gallery.
Commission-based galleries typically have a strong history and presence in the art world. They will have a network of collectors and regular sales. Because these galleries take on a risk whenever they show new artists, they are often very exclusive and will only show well-established artists who have demonstrated sale potential and customer appeal.
A co-op gallery is managed by the artists who participate in them. In most cases, artists are expected to pay a portion of the rent, clean the space, promote the exhibitions, sit in the gallery during open hours, and contribute to the operation of the gallery. Occasionally, these galleries may take commission from sales to pay for the rent and maintenance of the space.
The reputation, sales, and promotion of shows in these galleries can all range depending on the work that the artists put in. A co-op gallery is a great opportunity for an artist who is willing to do the work needed for maintaining a gallery without being able to afford a large space on their own.
Did you know that the founder of Agora Gallery was an artist and that the gallery actually started as a co-op gallery in 1984? However, when many of the artists could no longer commit to working in the gallery, the model gradually changed to accommodate paying employees to do these tasks. Eventually, Agora Gallery segued into a promotional gallery (explained below).
The primary focus of a promotional gallery is to provide artists with the exposure that they need in order to become better established in the art world. The gallery director evaluates the artwork and determines if the work is a good match for the gallery and the art market. Artists pay an annual fee to be promoted, based on terms of an agreement, with the option to renew at a lower cost. Promotional galleries like Agora employ professional art writers, PR coordinators, social media specialists, graphic designers, exhibition coordinator, registrar, and professional art handlers to name a few. These galleries provide ongoing advice regarding pricing, career guidance, self-marketing techniques, portfolio submission to museums, and so much more.
Related Article: 8 Benefits Of Gallery Representation
Stay in touch with us! Our Newsletter is packed with inspiring stories, art tips, and Agora Gallery’s latest exhibition announcements.
Art fairs often have different rules for participation. However, many of them function by selling booths or tables to galleries or organizations. Occasionally, an art fair will allow individual artists to purchase a spot, but this is less common and often expensive.
By participating in an art fair, artists don’t need to do much in the way of promotion or marketing. The organizers take care of all the marketing for the fair and usually are successful in attracting a large crowd. Of course, a little extra self-promotion never hurts! However, the events themselves often last only a few days so the time for making any sales is limited.
Related Article: Setting Up For Success At Art Fairs
A vanity gallery will offer wall space to anyone who is willing to pay for it. Often, these galleries have no portfolio review process and will show artwork by anyone who can afford the wall space. Consequently, the quality of the art can be low which can harm the reputation of the artist as well as the gallery itself.
Most vanity galleries do not charge commission and have little incentive to sell artwork. However, this is not universal. If you are considering a partnership with a vanity gallery, make sure you are going into it with your eyes open and have them sign a legally binding contract, so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
An artist agent is any professional who works on behalf of an artist to represent, promote, and sell their work. Working with an agent does not keep you from showing your artwork in galleries or art fairs—in fact, agents will often help you secure shows in these locations. Agents may be art collectors, dealers, or publicists, and they might charge commissions or up-front fees. It is a diverse occupation, and, as always, we recommend that you research any representative before officially committing.
Useful Article: A Guide to Artist Agents
A pop-up is a limited time event in a location owned by an outside party. It could take place in an art gallery, a store, or even a restaurant. Individuals or organizations like schools, art groups, and even galleries can organize pop-up shows. Cost generally varies depending on location, and all of the fees for promotion is the responsibility of the artist.
As the art world expands digitally, there are increasingly more and more virtual representation options that are available to artists. Online galleries that sell and promote artwork virtually are an emerging market. Most of these only charge for the server space for your own page on their website. Some may additionally charge commission and promotion fees.
However, the internet does not allow face-to-face interaction. Therefore, we can not attest to the sales success on these virtual galleries or even their reputability. As always, Agora Gallery advises that artists exercise caution when dealing with people only by the internet. You should always be cautious of scam artists and identity thieves when it comes to virtual artist representation.
Useful Article: How To Identify And Avoid Art Frauds
When deciding on the most suitable artist representation model, you may need to make some sacrifices. Either allow yourself a budget to pay for professional representation or take the time to work on promoting yourself. Nonetheless, you must always choose the path that is right for you.
Visit Agora’s Gallery Representation & Artist Promotion page to see what a promotional gallery can offer you and how you can sign up to come on board with us!
This post is also available in: Spanish