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. As usual, Jason, great podcast and advice, and so much useable information for artists at any point of their career. And also, as usual, you were able to discuss what seemed like a negative situation in very clear and positive terms. Thanks again.

  2. I’ve had a similar experience in the past. After working several years with a gallery located on great location, they went the wrong way with cheaper artworks, didn’t invest in its infrastrucure, didn’t respect the opening hours… all red flags.
    My advice: leave that gallery, the sooner the better.
    It consumes a lot of bad energy.

  3. Leaving a gallery can be just business or very awkward. I think it is helpful if the gallery has a breaking up or post relationship policy. I once had a gallery that hoarded my work and always wanted new work too. Because I am prolific, at first that was not a problems for me. But when that gallery moved to a much slower location, started paying late, and started trying to show their spouse’s work at other artists’ solo or group show opening nights…it got awkward and went south. We had also had a relationship over many years and it was hard for me to end it. The amount of work (close to 100 pieces) they hoarded became a big stressor for me.
    My recommendation and my own policy as an artist is to limit the amount of work to a comfortable amount on the walls and a comfortable amount “in inventory” or a back room or rotating art AND to change out the work every six months. (For galleries that mat and frame for me, I accommodate that by bringing in same size pieces so the mats and frames can be refitted and reused on the new pieces.) The gallery can always keep or take pictures of outgoing work, the new work is fresh which is always very good, and, if the relationship goes south or no longer is a fit, you have a set date for picking up your work. Where this may be harder at long distances, I find that if I (you) possibly can make these trips, not only will your work be more controlled for rotation to other galleries, but that your relationship with the gallery and their collectors (who may enjoy greatly seeing you too and getting the first chance to see or buy new work!) will grow and sustain as well. Over the years, I have found that the trend of just sending work has passed for the most part and that developing person to person relationships and participating in the socialization is often key as well as fun. And if I cannot go twice a year, I aim for at least once a year and spend on these trips some time in the area having interactions, dinners, etc. as well as “in the gallery” time.

  4. I have just had a wonderful gallery in a beautiful location close unexpectedly. Times and sales had been getting slower there for a few years apparently, and they had even indicated to me that some of my work would be better placed in a different location that they knew would do a better job at exposing it to the right crowd. At first I was sad that they did not want my work anymore, now I know they were preparing me and even protecting me by promoting my work to these other venues. So sad to see them go, especially as I had just recently sold work from there. They even had a fabulous party for the artists and buyers to give the gallery a fitting send off.
    I am really getting concerned about the amount of gallery closures and I know that I have another one representing me that is going through a tough time. They have also sold some of my work so though I am grateful that my work is selling, I am really considering doing more sales on my own through my home gallery or on-line. At what point do you pull work out if you sense a gallery may close and it may be tough to reclaim your inventory.

  5. So many of us have been through this …. I hear of more artists who exhibit great integrity in this situation.
    Jason, you nailed the symptoms; the manager/owner won’t answer emails or calls, neither will they respond to offers for demos or appearances at the gallery. There is a lack of timely social media postings, websites not up to date, no advertising, few sales, no strategy to adopt a better business model in tough times … symptoms. Galleries are so hard to get into some artists feel an unsatisfactory relationship is better than none at all. Not so.
    When the signs are obvious leave, even if it means bringing your work home. Distance is costly to retrieve your work but is still cheaper than legal and financial trouble. Keep in mind leaving a gallery isn’t a divorce, it’s a break up. Some are amiable, some strained.
    Local art communities are fairly connected. A gallery owner once asked me, “What’s going on at ___?” (I was represented across town, but no more). I smiled and shrugged my shoulder. He said, “They’re promoting their son and not you or their other artists, right?” If that hint of problems is obvious to a competitor it is equally discernible in buyers. Gallery closings have little to do with your work and is far more about an industry in transition and the economy.
    “Exit gracefully” should be your mantra. Don’t burn bridges. Be cordial, professional. Don’t trash the gallery’s name after you’re gone. Then, regroup. If you don’t take care of your art career no one else will.

    1. Jackie, during this long economic depression, galleries were closing everywhere. One
      artist gaining national recognition told me of the abrupt closing of a gallery where he had 72 hours’ notice to drive from New Mexico to Laguna Beach. He just returned where he had only 24 hours to pick up his work at a closing gallery in Jackson Hole! He ended up driving all night in a snowstorm to make that deadline. He said he was surprised with both closures’ abrupt short notice, but a you and Jason point out, he may have overlooked the symptoms.

  6. I’ve only left a gallery twice, but on good terms. Usually because my work was not selling there very well. Some I sold well at first, but when sales slowed down to a trickle or full stop for a season, I decided it was probably time to redistribute my work.

    In both cases, I gave the gallery owner a small painting as a token of my appreciation. It was a gift – the owner could choose to keep it or sell it and keep the entire amount, not having to send me check. I felt this was a good way to end the relationship.

  7. Very timely. I’m not an established artist and joined a co-op gallery a few years ago. Sales have never been great so I said I was leaving last Spring. Several of the artists begged me to stay. I have but my heart just isn’t in it. It feels more like a social club than an art gallery. Sounds like it’s time to really say goodbye.

  8. A career in art in my experience of series of arcs, with patrons, customers and galleries. When reproductions were selling, I found that galleries sold prints for a year or two, till their customer base was saturated. So artists should expect sales in individual galleries to have a trajectory. The longer, the better, of course, but understand sales will wane and end.. I have ended relations with galleries for various reasons, but am glad to say I still use one former gallery owner as my framer.

  9. This is very timely for me also so I’m so glad you’re addressing this issue, Jason. Thank you! In my situation, I’m currently only in one gallery, but am not happy with the relationship. Many of the exact same red flags between me and this gallery exist. I’ve only been represented there for 6 months and have concluded that I need to find other representation locally. My question is this: What do I say to galleries that I’d like to be newly represented by? Do I tell them I’m currently in this gallery and want to leave? They would not want the competition from the gallery that already represents me. If they ask me why I want to leave the current gallery, do I tell them? How do I appear professional to the potential new gallery in this situation?

  10. Hi, Jason. I left a comment on the only place the podcast page I arrived on even though there were no other comments. I tried following your directions, but the link kept returning me to the page where no comments have been left (except mine).

    My comments in brief:
    1) Would you please address how the artist would best go about collecting the money owed her by the gallery? Does keeping work in the gallery until the owner “pays up” give her any leverage? Or would it be better to simultaneously withdraw from the gallery and demand payment in accordance with the conditions of the contract between the artist and the gallery?
    2) The gallery has reached an age where the owner may need to retire and doesn’t really realize how much things are slipping. This can be confirmed or disproved by a face-to-face conversation with the owner. Watch for memory lapses and/or logic lapses or a mentally scattered approach to business matters. Especially in the case of dementia, people often don’t realize how bad they’ve gotten if there’s no on there who can or will tell them. This can cost artists and other suppliers money and/or paintings confiscated by bankruptcy courts.

  11. Here is an update on the podcast situation: I finally got paid for 4 paintings that had sold quite some time ago, after I called to request payment – again. Then a few weeks later I sent a friendly concise email to the gallery owner saying that I know that gallery space is prime real estate, from my sales record it doesn’t seem like my work is a fit, and I would like to shake hands and say goodbye. I did not express my unhappiness with their marketing and communication efforts. I did get a call from the gallery owner the next day and we had an amiable talk. Result is I will pick up my work at the end of November when I am in the area to visit family. He did allow as he found it curious that many artists seemed to be evaluating their relationships at this time. I can only assume he meant artists he represented, and I am not surprised. (Though I did not say this out loud.) It was a friendly parting. No reason for it to be otherwise. The owner did say “In the meantime, I will sell all the work we have of yours here!” To which I replied, “That would be fantastic.” Thanks Jason, for the guidance.

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