RedDot Podcast | 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. I have been painting for a long time. My reason has nothing to do with wanting fame, money, friends, or anything else for that matter. I paint for the same reason that I breathe. Eat, drink, and perform other essential activities and functions.
    My website is quite old. Yet you can easily see what I am about.

  2. I do very much wish for you to see at least some of my work. I am a passionate painter.
    My mediums of choice are Oil and Watercolor. My website is quite old. I post many paintings on Facebook, as well as on Instagram. I would appreciate any words you care to offer and be grateful for whatever input you have.

  3. It is hard to say good by to a gallery that has sold your work. The most important thing when you leave is to be diplomatic and not say things you would later regret. Be kind. The Art World is small. When I left a gallery I said that my prices had gone up and I felt it was time for me to move to another gallery as sales had dropped in their gallery. I did not leave that gallery until I had another. I wished them well, warmly thanked them for selling my work and believing in me, and said it had been a pleasure. I asked them to please keep me on the gallery mailing list. I did feel that the owner had gotten less interested in running the gallery, and in about two years the gallery closed.

  4. I ended what had been a successful relationship with a gallery when I discovered that a vulnerable stone sculpture that was not currently on display had been stored precariously on a shelf under a bench. It was resting in a way that could allow it to slide onto the floor, and it was stored with a variety of objects that could easily scratch it. Meanwhile, the form-fitting crate I had brought it in was stored in a completely different place that was difficult to reach (that is why they hadn’t bothered to store the sculpture properly). As well, we discovere another crate was stored outside and had gotten wet. I still like the gallery and the owner, but don’t want the risk of exhibiting there.

  5. I have said goodbye to two galleries. Both were unable to survive economically for different reasons. I was sad to lose them. I still use the portable display walls the first one gave me to save them from the landfill. A regret I have is not asking for a testimonial from the sweet people who sold my work for years.

  6. I ended a relationship with a gallery that I’d been with for a few years when the owner stopped paying in a timely manner. At one point, 4 paintings had sold and I hadn’t received a payment for them – and it had been 8 months. I had to be insistent on payment and kept bugging the owner, and that was super uncomfortable. The day I left I felt so relieved.

  7. Hi Jason, you may remember me as we did one of your artist interviews together a few months ago. I just listened to your podcast #17. The timing was amazing. I actually have an appointment this morning with one of my gallery owners. I have been in this gallery that is 30 minutes from where I live for about ten years. It is in a well known resort town on the beach. Last year the previous owners retired and sold the gallery to a young man from AZ. He is somewhat new to the gallery business, but when he bought the gallery he contacted each of the artists and met with us. He sounded like he was going to go out to make it successful and try some more updated strategies. They actually sold quite a few paintings for me in the last six months that he has been the owner. The problem is mainly that he doesn’t pay, not just me but all the artists. It takes 3-5 months to get paid, and that seems to be only after we contact him over and over. Our contract says 30 days. There really are no other galleries in the area, sadly, and I like having representation there.

    Last night I typed up a termination of our contract with a list of the inventory with the idea of having it ready to pick up my work if I felt that was the way to go. After listening to your podcast I plan to type up a cover letter explaining why I am leaving, and if I decide to stay after our meeting what changes I would like to see happen. I prayed about what to do in this situation,(as in 20 years I have never had to do this before) and then I listened to your podcast this morning and it was exactly what I needed to hear. That’s what I meant about perfect timing. Possibly I need to look for a gallery out of the area. It may be time. I tend to be very loyal, and it is great not to have to ship everything. I am in 7 galleries within driving distance, including this one. Any advice. Thank you! Sheryl

  8. That the reporting artist was being notably slow-paid by that gallery, wasn’t being pro-actively told if there had been sales, was owed money, and expressed concern about non-payment if they terminated the arrangement, is all too much of a red flag. I know of at least one notorious gallery in a great market, no longer in existence. As an artist, I would not want the continuing negative impact of those concerns, and I observed the negative impact on a fellow artist, who sought legal advice from me. As a gallerist, the legal and/or ethical principle that the artist’s share for a sold work is in trust for the artist, promotes paying promptly and not having the funds exposed to other uses. A gallery that is deliberately funding itself that way?

  9. Often I am thinking of my gallery experience in San Francisco for quite a while. The gallery owner invited me to a show about ten years ago. My first showing there was very pleasant. I did meet many the people and was introduce to artists and collectors. Two weeks after the opening night the gallerist called about my smallest piece. It had been stolen. That was quite a shock. She said, it was the first time this happened to her. She reimbursed me.
    I had a larger show there with three other artists. The opening was a beautiful event. She was able to sell several of my pieces. I was pleased.
    At a follow-up meeting she did not tell me for how much money she actually sold my largest artwork. She sold it to a “friend” of hers with an art collection. But she gave me a receipt about $8,000, which was less than I was asking. She did not want me to contact him, nor gave me his number. That all was very secretive. But what broke the camels back, so to speak, was the fact that she handed me the receipt asking not to declare taxes for that. I could not do this since it is my business. So I did file taxes about that sale anyway, what ended our relationship in a disagreement. I never fully recovered from that experience since we did get along great. I liked her and her gallery a lot. About five years ago, I discovered that her galley was closed.

  10. This is such a difficult subject. I feel it’s much easier if you have another artist who is already at a particular Gallery who can refer you and let you know the gallery’s policies. After applying to a significant amount of galleries, I’ve had the experience of gaining representation at a gallery some distance from my home that seemed to be a good fit. At first communication they were very enthusiastic and did sell some of my work. As time went on, communication became so poor I never knew if a payment was coming my way until months later. Although I still feel like my work would be a good fit for the area, dealing with difficult communication where (1) I did not feel value as an artist (2) could not keep track of where my work was, and (3) calls/emails etc are unanswered, has forced me to request my work to be shipped back to me, at my cost. I’d be pretty sour, but another gallery that represents me is the complete opposite, so I’m okay with moving on and trying not to burn any bridges along the way. Really, without some kind of personal referral, we take a chance that any gallery is being respectful and legitimate with our work and paying when they ought to.
    In my opinion, communication and paperwork are key ingredients, in case things go really bad and you have to sue, but if you don’t have those you have no guarantees at all. The bad apples are ruining it for the rest, and fueling the idea that galleries are a thing of the past.

  11. Was in a small neighborhood gallery in Boston about 20 years ago. Did everything wrong, didn’t get a contract, didn’t check on how they displayed my artwork…and didn’t ask why I saw an artist crying while leaving the gallery the first time I brought in work. The one thing I did correctly was keep an inventory of what I brought in.

    They sold a piece, they said. But, when I went in to pick up my share of the sale, they refused, stated that the entire selling price was theirs to keep. The owner’s girlfriend also said that the piece sold because of the size (it was the largest piece they had on display), not the quality of the work.

    Got pissed, took all of my work out of that gallery, that day. I was surprised at the storeroom’s disregard for safe storage of artwork, too. Wish I had looked in there before leaving my work with them. Yes, two canvases had dents, but I repaired them.

    They no longer exist, by the way. No surprise.

    Discovered today that I am still pissed. But, was a good lesson which led to my finding “Starving to Successful”…and learning how to approach business in a real way. Not all the gallery’s fault; was my fault, too.

  12. I’ve had my work shown in two very ethical galleries—no problems ever. Once, I did put several pieces in a show run by the “friend of a friend” and had a less than satisfactory experience. Was saved by having a contract that specified the artist’s price as well as the suggested retail price. The largest painting sold, and when the check arrived, it was less than the specified artist’s price. I called the person running the show who said she’d given a discount to her friend who bought it and took that off of my price. Because of the contract, I was able to (with some stern discussion) get the full amount of the contracted artist’s price. Never did business with her again. This was especially shocking and disappointing as her mother is a professional artist. If a gallery owner wants to give a discount it should come out of their cut. I never discount my work.

  13. I was invited to show my work in a local art guild gallery, Because I live where galleries of any kind are few and far between, I decided to do it. Mistake. Much of the work here is crafty (I appreciate craft, but it’s not the same) and not the right fit for my abstract work which I’ve shown and sold elsewhere. After a mixup in sales, I knew this gallery was not the place for me, so I stayed one more month and recently left. It was on good terms because I agree that the art world is small. Entirely my choice and I’ve been invited to show again if I want to do that. Not likely. They have rules for who can show, but violate them. And also what can be shown. Also violated. It was good for a while to let people know where they could see my art, but when I realized what the experience was for people who went to see it, I was embarrassed. My experience and that of others I’ve read here makes me wonder, Why is art so devalued in so many ways? Then I went to a local discount store and saw that they were selling canvas knock-offs for $20. Got my answer. Just going to work on my work and let the rest of it go.

  14. Without going into identifying specifics, I learned the hard way that communication respect, trust, and fit are the things to keep uppermost in mind. If your gut feeling is triggered by red flags, LISTEN to your gut! Don’t stay too long out of fear of not having another gallery right away, as it can make leaving harder and harder as time goes by. And a gallery owner or curator with a “high conflict”, manipulative personality may make it difficult for you to leave easily, but stick to your resolve, and don’t get drawn into any arguments about it. Be concise and calm, and get your work out safely. It’s YOUR career, YOUR life, and you must protect your interests. PERIOD.

  15. I left the gallery I was with for a variety of reasons. A lot which have been mentioned by other artists in the comments. Red flags were….
    *Go to a group show opening I’m supposed to be in to find out they hadn’t bothered to put my piece in the show because it was hanging at another venue.
    *Moving art to private venues without telling the artists because they had some contract with spaces to “rent out art” to their facilities. Artists saw no reward for this and the public couldn’t see their art in these private spaces.
    *And the last straw was being at my solo show opening with them and the gallery director coming up to me with a box of my invites that just got there! Night of my show! All sales I made were my friends, family and collectors I built. They constantly held up their favorite artists and promoted them while the rest of us were chopped liver. Saying goodbye was easy.

  16. It seems my history that the galleries I have been in were transitory. I’m empathic to gallery owners. It seems there is a quick weeding-out process to having a gallery that is in the black. The most promising one I was associated with the owner died less than one year after I was accepted. Another one was closed down by the IRS for tax fraud. A couple others just closed shop, the probable cause was cash flow. There were two I took my art out of their gallery. Both galleries were on the Northern California coast, about 150 miles from my residence, and were well established. I signed a contract to sell a piece of art in one of these galleries for $1200, I came back about 2 months later to find the price was $1500 without being notified. The owner wasn’t there but I told the gallerist I was taking my piece out. She said was going to call the owner till I told her to look at the contract. The other gallery on the coast I had my art in the gallery for six months and we agreed it wasn’t a good fit for the gallery.

  17. I have finally gotten paid from a gallery that sold 3 paintings 6 months ago. They were not paying me and kept making excuses. I emailed you and you gave me excellent advice. Thank you so much! I am done dealing with this gallery. I thought it was a good fit, since they sold the paintings the week I gave them to them but not getting paid in a timely manner has ended the relationship. Thank you again Jason!

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