RedDot Podcast | Episode 017 | Saying Goodbye to a Gallery

A lot of my writing and podcasting is about the process of preparing to present your work to galleries and about how to establish relationships with gallery owners. In today’s podcast I’ll look at what happens when a relationship with a gallery doesn’t work out, and how to end the relationship.



What have you experienced when ending a relationship with a gallery?

Have you had to terminate a relationship with a gallery? Why did you end the relationship? Was ending the relationship difficult or awkward? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.

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. A kind of prickly thought. Like everything else, one or two people are “top” and a couple are “bottom” with everyone else somewhere in between. Most of us are in that in-between group.
    So, where am I in the gallery spectrum? This knowledge while perhaps painful seems knowledge that is helpful at least in decision making as well as any conversation.
    I keep thinking of the gallery owner trying to make a success for both the gallerist and the artist. No one wants a losing situation.

  2. I left a gallery in Hawaii. I live in California and could not keep an eye on what was going on at the gallery in Hawaii. They were using my paintings to stage houses! Once I visited the gallery with out telling them I was coming. None of my paintings were in the gallery. When I asked what happened to them, they had to fess up that they were using them to stage houses. I went to the houses and found that the gallery was advertised in the homes, but there was nothing under my paintings to inform people that they were for sale, no mention of the artist, price, medium…nothing! I asked them to please not do that again. I visited the following year and it happened again! I asked them to return all my paintings, at their cost, which was in our contract. They delivered 4 of the 5. When I asked where the last one was they told me that they really liked it and wanted to keep it in the gallery. I have a suspicion that it was again used to decorate homes for sale. They eventually sent it back. I haven’t worked with them since…

    1. Oh…that’s bad, Randy.
      I had a gallery owner decorating her own home with my paintings. I discovered it, like you, when I dropped in unexpectedly. Needless to say I quit that gallery immediately.
      Often there are very clear issues for leaving a gallery but sometimes it’s just a feeling of not being supported or marketed adequately.
      As a former gallery owner, it’s best to be honest about the reasons for leaving, but diplomacy is important. Don’t burn bridges, galleries do talk to each other.

    2. That’s horrifying! Oh my gosh, sorry you went through this experience! At least they [the gallery] were honest about their misdoings.
      This is one, great example why I have been reluctant to go with galleries. At least it’s a few and far between of what to expect, but still a story that makes me weary of gallery owners. Required research into the owner(s) is top priority for the future.

  3. I had a several year business only relationship with a gallery that was going quite well. The owner even, at her own expense, entered my work in some international shows where it was accepted. One day I picked up a newspaper and read that the FBI had arrested her for money laundering and that she was in prison. I immediately went to the gallery where someone who barely spoke English was tending the shop. She couldn’t tell me anything, but I had read many stories of how galleries closed unexpectedly and artists lost their work. I gathered my work and took it with me. When I read in the paper that the gallery owner was released from prison 3 or 4 months later I went to see her to determine what the situation was and whether we could continue our relationship. She went into a rage that I had removed my work and hadn’t trusted her and stood by her. I didn’t know her well enough on a personal basis to believe her over the FBI and she was unable to see that her lack of communication with me had left me vulnerable. She was so nasty that I left.

  4. I had a gallery selling my paintings for double what we had said and not give me the 50% that was of the selling price but 50% of what the original agreed upon price was. They were 5 hours away from me so very hard to keep a watch on.

  5. This is an important topic, thank-you Jason. I had a rough time once when a gallery closed in Philadelphia without notice. I finally did recover my work from there but it was disturbing and I had to be persistent. The owners were visionary just very scattered. I thought we did have a trusted relationship. I agree with doing research.
    Presently I have a few drawings in a gallery in MN. Then I found a stronger gallery in the same region which is interested in my oils, but he wants an exclusive arrangement with artists within a certain mile radius. I won’t back away from my first gallery in that region until after a year’s trial. Is a year a fair enough time to test a gallery before making an exit? And what is the gracious way to do that?

  6. About 20 years ago, there was a gallery about 20 minutes from my house. The woman who owned it had a good reputation and had run several galleries in the area for years. I had a friend who had her work in there and suggested that I should get mine in there as well. It went well for over a year (although she didn’t sell a painting by either of us). I’d go by every month or two and make sure she was still in business. As did my friend – one day she called me in a panic. There was a sign on the door that the IRS (or FBI?) had shut her down. She was buying cheap mass-produced paintings from China and signing a fake name to them and selling them as originals. (and obviously not paying taxes!) Her phone # was still on the door, so I called and told she had 20 minutes to get there and open the door so I could take my paintings out or she would hear from lawyer. Got my paintings. Later, there was an article in the newspaper about it. No one has heard from her since. So it wasn’t like I wanted to get out, but we do what we have to do!

  7. I was in a gallery in Hawaii and was experiencing great sales. When I moved from California to Tucson, they stopped communicating with me. They wouldn’t answer phone calls or emails. I had an art friend from another island that got my unframed work back, and a check for sold work thank goodness, but I had huge pieces framed in Koa wood that were too heavy to ship to Arizona. I ended up having to count them as a loss and give them to a friend of hers. When I looked the gallery up online after the fact, I saw that there were other unhappy artists as well. I had been very happy until my move to Arizona.

  8. I’m very interested in how to graciously leave a gallery. I have several pieces in a local gallery but never have any sales. I post a piece on my social media pages and they sell immediately. I don’t see any benefit from being in a gallery.

  9. Like to know what questions should an artist ask before submitting any of their work. Was shocked to read about the lack of integrity of the galleries in the comments that I read. After reading both of your books Jason, and reading most of your newsletters, and the fine comments following I’m becoming more and more happy that you are on the planet to guide artist in their journeys toward success. Thank you for all that you are doing.

  10. I am picking my work up from a gallery in a couple of days, and so far it has gone very smoothly after following Jason’s advice. Thanks for all of the help, here on the blog, your book and through your class.

  11. Some horror stories here! I run my own gallery now and it is my policy to pay our artists on the day money reaches our account – there is no excuse to hold on to it a moment longer – the money is in your account, and you have had the artists’ work on your walls for free, with no outlay for expensive stock – a pretty good business model, so it’s only fair to pay your creators promptly. If your galleries take weeks, or months to pay you (I’ve experienced that on several occasions), get out and find another decent gallery, and ask them up front what their policy is on paying – it’s not cheeky, it’s very professional. There’s no excuse, regardless what they tell you – when they sell, they will have money in their account within 3 days, so absolutely zero reason to hold on to it a moment longer, and it’s so easy to pay these days- no writing cheques, just a click of a few buttons. In these more challenging economic times, the poor galleries who don’t respect their artists and who don’t pay them promptly, deserve to go out of business, and good riddance to them – us more respectful ones will thrive all the more!

  12. I was in a very lovely gallery for a few years. They were new at the time, off the beaten path, and had not yet built up a clientele. But I loved all the work they carried, felt I fit well there and the owner was very supportive. I received an introduction to another more established gallery nearby. They offered to carry my work but I would need to remove my work from the first gallery. Since I hadn’t had many sales at the first gallery, I explained that I hoped to receive more exposure at the other gallery. The gallery owner was very gracious, wished me luck and said I was always welcome to come back if things didn’t work out at the other gallery. Hopefully your galleries will want what’s best for their artists as well as for themselves.

  13. I had gallery break that eventually had a happy resolution for all concerned. I had a relationship with a framer who carried my work, and we made a little money. However he wanted me to double my prices for online sales of all my art, and it was non-negotiable. I gathered my work. He was not happy about it but we parted amicably. I still had him do some framing . Later he relocated and opened a gallery. Things changed and we were both more flexible about negotiating. Once again My work in in his new gallery.

  14. I know I’m a little late in commenting on this, but my one, and only experience with a gallery started out great and ended badly. I said goodbye after finding “errors in the owner’s accounting” when I was paid. She would then tell me to “prove” her price was wrong, not realizing I am anal when it comes to keeping records. These were documents of “art in and art out” of the gallery and prices on them. I don’t think she ever thought I kept track. I also found two of my paintings had been damaged when something had been “splashed” all over them and she claimed that I brought them in like that. Obviously a heated discussion ensued after that because it wasn’t true. She also would store my extra paintings in a hot place and anything laying against them, stuck to the paint and ruined them. The list is too long for this blog. The first six yrs of my eight in her gallery were great. Just from reading your blog, I’ve realized she was having financial problems and it was showing up in the strangest ways. To end the relationship, I typed up a letter to her and hand delivered it to the gallery, because she never responded to phone calls or email by this time. She wasn’t in the gallery that day I took the letter in, so I gave it to one of the employees and asked them to please hand-deliver it to her. I wasn’t mean in the letter. I just let her know that being in her gallery wasn’t working for me and I was terminating my relationship immediately and to let me know when I could pick up my art. I even offered to help her rearrange the gallery to replace my pieces on the walls. I had to call her back a couple of days later to find out if she had read my letter. She had and she was irritated but didn’t want to talk about it and wanted me to pick up my art immediately. I took a list with me, and there were three small pieces missing that she couldn’t account for. I ended up leaving that day, without them, never being compensated for them, and chalking it up to a lesson learned. It was all pretty sad really, because I thought we were friends, and I never saw it coming. I wasn’t the only artist to leave after that, and I wasn’t the only one to have these things happen. Today, the gallery is a fraction of what it used to be, and it’s sad. It’s taken me awhile to get over the experience, figure out what I can learn from it, and move on. I’m now starting to look at other galleries for opportunities to show my art. I still get a little bit of anxiety when I think of it, but I intend to make the next one work out well. I still feel lucky I was in that gallery at the time, because it really helped kick off my career in art. So nothing was a complete waste.

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