Inventory Quantity Before Approaching Galleries

As someone deeply entrenched in the art world, both through my gallery and my advisory role for artists, I’ve encountered numerous talented individuals hesitating at the precipice of gallery representation. The common thread among these concerns? The daunting pressure of production and the fear of not meeting demand. However, from my experience, there’s a strategic approach that can significantly alleviate these worries and pave the way for a successful partnership with galleries.

I understand the anxiety that comes with the thought of needing to replenish sold works rapidly. It’s a concern that resonates with many artists I’ve worked with. The creative process is inherently delicate and varies greatly from one individual to another. Some artists thrive under the pressure of deadlines, while others find that their creativity flows more freely without the looming shadow of expectations. Acknowledging and respecting this diversity in creative processes is crucial in formulating a strategy that benefits all artists.

The approach I advocate for involves preparing a substantial body of work prior to approaching galleries. This isn’t about mass-producing art; it’s about building up a collection thoughtfully and at your own pace. A cohesive set of around 25 pieces, for example, can serve as a solid foundation for your portfolio. This strategy does more than just ease the pressure; it provides you with a buffer that allows for the natural ebb and flow of your creative output.

This buffer is not merely a safety net; it’s a strategic tool that can guide your journey through the art market. It ensures that as you embark on relationships with galleries, you’re not caught off guard by the pace at which your work sells. If a gallery sells a dozen of your pieces in a year, aim to match or exceed that number in your production. This keeps the relationship buoyant and ensures that you’re replenishing your inventory at a pace that feels manageable and stress-free.

Moreover, the success of this approach can embolden you to expand your horizons, seeking representation in additional galleries. Keeping an eye on your reserves will help you determine when you’re ready to take this step, ensuring that you’re not overextending yourself.

It’s also important to highlight the nature of the artist-gallery relationship. Far from the cold, transactional dynamic some fear, a healthy partnership with a gallery is built on mutual respect and encouragement. Galleries that genuinely believe in your work will want to see you succeed and will offer support rather than pressure. This positive environment can significantly mitigate the stress associated with production demands, making the creative process more enjoyable and fulfilling.

In sharing this advice, my goal is to demystify the process of gallery representation and encourage artists to take that leap of faith. While challenges and anxieties are part of the journey, they can be navigated with the right strategy and mindset. By building a significant body of work at your own pace and fostering constructive partnerships with galleries, you can embark on a rewarding path in the art world.

Remember, the art market is as dynamic as the art itself. With a strategic approach and an understanding of the market dynamics, you can transform potential anxieties into opportunities for growth and success. Let your art lead the way, and don’t shy away from the opportunities that gallery representation can offer.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Excellent informative article as always, Jason. As someone immersed in the digital art world, I appreciate the insights shared in your blog post. Unlike traditional artists, I have the advantage of creating an unlimited amount of artwork at any given time. This flexibility allows me to adapt to the demands of gallery representation without the pressure of constant production. Thank you for shedding light on the strategic approach to navigating the art market.

    I noticed another online artist who began selling her own artwork and representing other artists too, offering digital files that could be printed on various substrates. She’s targeting the interior design market. Do you anticipate gallerists following this trend?

    Hey folks, if you haven’t tried Theobot, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a great timesaver amongst other advantages.

  2. You just described my own feelings. However, since your online critique of my work, I have tightened up the presentation aspect so the backs look more finished, and creating more of the tiny art as you suggested, as well as filling the Portfolio template you gave.

    I will be making my first Gallery phone call this afternoon. I even have a recommendation by one of their artists who I met at an invitation-only event for which I was the featured artist speaker.

    I look back at that critique from time to time, and although my work has the same contemporary realism feel, I cannot believe I am the same person as that scared rabbit woman in the video. I’ve come such a long way since the critique, largely due to your guidance. Thank you Jason!

  3. Jason, thank you so much for addressing this topic! I don’t think I have encountered anyone who has spoken so directly to this concern that you speak about, and that I have had. This worry: would I be able to produce enough? has overshadowed the desire that I have felt to be represented by a gallery. I don’t like pressure but, when I have had a deadline and enough time to prepare, I have enjoyed the process and been quite successful. I tell myself that with my productivity and the inventory that I have, I would be able to handle it just fine. But an amorphous worry hovers. I really appreciate your suggestion about increasing inventory and about how a successful artist gallery relationship can hold and manage these concerns.

  4. When I first started this adventure of being a working artist, about 5 years ago – an artist friend told me: “Your most valuable asset is your inventory”. He was right. I usually have 70 to 80 pieces in inventory. I admit – I’m one of those people that is most productive when the pressure is on. I tell new artists that I meet the same thing – inventory, inventory and inventory. This last year I became a co-owner in a local gallery. We have developed a plan to feature local guest artists every month and have dedicated a 30 foot section of wall in a prime location for doing so. Over and over again we see artists who are very good but just do not have the inventory. For a show, we look for a minimum of 25 to 30 pieces ready to go. We like to keep the gallery fresh – so as pieces sell we want to have replacements on hand. Good for the artist and good for the gallery.

  5. Thank You so much for this greatly needed article. I was deep in the art world up north many years ago, my work was in 5 Dinners and 2 galleries as well as several commissioned works. I lost faith in the art world and haven’t picked up a brush or pencil in 28 years. 8 months ago I started up again with great peace of mind only problem is times have changed there’s the Internet, videos, cell phones and a completely different mindset, so in a way I’m starting all over. I have followed your newsletters to the t so to be educated in what to do. One of my biggest questions was answered in this newsletter on quantity. Thank You

  6. Jason, I totally agree. For the last 5 years I have had between 30-40 pieces on hand at all times, including the 15 pieces in the gallery. This gave me plenty of time exploring new styles and techniques and really enjoying the studio time without the pressure of producing prior to peak sales times..

  7. The problem with working at a pace that Is “manageable and stress-free” is that you can’t make a living at that level. The numbers don’t work. If your art sells for $2000 in a gallery, you net $1000. 12 works won’t be enough to live on. Nor will 24, or even 40. And we haven’t included shipping or other costs. Once your prices rise to an AVERAGE of $5,000 or so, then it’s a little easier, but even then, 12 works only net $30,000 and no one can live on that. It is, in my view, absolutely critical that artists focus on developing unique styles and ways to create them as efficiently as possible OR, have partners who will support them financially, which is hard on the self-esteem. And I speak from about 50 years of having made a living solely from art. I ended up being a dealer and an author as well as a painter, which, though it is one solution, has cost me much of the joy of painting. Nonetheless, if you wish to paint and make a living, the numbers have to work, whether the art comes from your hand, your inventory, or both.

  8. Jason… such helpful and clear information! I’m finally in a position to spend more time at the easel and am taking this advice to heart. I worked on 2 small paintings for an annual gallery and to my surprise and delight, they both sold on opening night. If I’m wise, I’ll prepare a body of work just in case I get invited to additional shows. I hear ya on not being ready for opportunities. Long ago, some collectors bought most of the works I had a gallery and I had nothing to replace it with.

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