The Art Gallery is Dead . . . Long Live the Art Gallery

Over the last several weeks, I’ve had several of you send me links to articles that decry the end of the gallery system. It seems like these articles come around every few years. Though each of the articles came at the question from different angles, the points can be summarized as:

  • Art galleries are dead because now artists can access buyers directly on the internet
  • Art galleries are dead because they are too greedy and dishonest and aren’t treating artists well
  • Bricks and mortar art galleries are dead because the online sales of art are increasing.

To some extent, I realize that all of these points are true, at least to a degree. One has only to survey the gallery market to see that many galleries that were thriving ten to fifteen years are no longer around. The poor economy from 2008-2011 certainly played a larger role in this, but it’s also clear that more and more art sales are shifting to the internet. It’s always hard to get any kind of well-documented industry figures, but I’ve seen Xanadu’s online sales grow significantly over the last ten years to a point where online sales make up about 15% of total revenue.

So is the demise of the traditional gallery model in the tea leaves? Looking at what’s happened in the music and publishing industry might lead one to believe so. It seems logical that the sale of artistic creations, whether it’s music, books or artwork, can be done more efficiently and cost-effectively online than in the bricks and mortar world. While many in the art industry (both artists and galleries) would argue that art is different, that you have to see it in person and touch it before you can make such a high value purchase, many art buyers disagree. I’m finding my clientele more and more willing to buy artwork sight-unseen. As we all become more and more comfortable with the internet as a medium for commerce, we’re willing to make higher value purchases.

If those purchases are backed by respected and trusted venues (like Amazon and well-established galleries) it seems possible, and even likely, that the trend will continue.  Keep in mind, too, that if the current generation of art buyers, typically well-established in their careers and finances and aged between 40-70, can adapt to buy high-ticket items online, the next generation of buyers, who are digital natives, will have no problem buying art online (if they buy at all, which is another story altogether).

What does this mean for art galleries?

First, I believe that the gallery market is going to contract in the coming decade. The contraction began with the economic recession. Many smaller, and some well-established galleries, closed their doors for good. The bad economy forced many of these galleries to close, but even before the recession began, many galleries were struggling in the new digital environment. I’ve watched galleries on Main Street in Scottsdale (where my gallery is located) fade away. The profit margins of the gallery business are already razor-thin and the added pressure of competing with online retailers will push many galleries out of the market.

Second, I believe that galleries need to come up with aggressive online strategies. I don’t believe that anyone has developed the perfect model for selling art online yet.  However, it’s not going to work to have a static website with a few images of artwork and artist’s bios thrown up for visitors to review.  Deep and media rich websites are going to be expected, and  e-commerce will be mandatory.

computer with artThird, galleries are going to have to place a lot more emphasis on the art-buying experience than the process. In some ways, buying art is more like the performing arts than traditional retail. Art buyers often visit galleries while they are travelling and are looking for a cultural experience as much as a retail one. Shows and studio visits have always been important, but they are going to become even more so.

Fourth, galleries are going have to become media experts. We’ve had success offering multimedia experiences to buyers – video interviews with artists, for example, and we will be doing ever more to create a richer experience for people who visit the gallery. Not all of that experience can be duplicated online, but a lot of it can. The tools to produce rich media content have become less expensive and more accessible. My staff and I have learned how to use DreamWeaver, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and InDesign to some degree of proficiency, and we’re leveraging social media (including YouTube) to an ever increasing degree. There’s a learning curve, and the benefits have been slow to materialize, but I’m convinced the investment in the tools and education will pay big dividends over time.

Finally, I believe it wise for galleries to think of their relationship with artists in a different light. As artists gain more independence by using online tools and more savvy marketing techniques, galleries are going to have to think of artists as full partners in the business. While it should have been this way all along, many galleries have treated their artists (especially emerging and early-career artists) as minor partners or second-class citizens in the marketing of the artist’s work. Moving forward, artists are going to see galleries as only one of many marketing venues for their work. Galleries are going to have to earn their artist’s business.

What does it mean for artists?

Artists are at an interesting crossroad with the changes in the industry. There are seemingly more opportunities for exposure than ever. An artist can create a website in a few minutes and have  a virtual gallery that has the potential to reach collectors around the world. The challenge, however, is that every other artist also has this same ability, and there’s a tremendous amount of artistic noise online. It’s very hard for the individual to get exposure and generate sales online.

Well-established artists have been able to siphon off gallery sales by selling directly to collectors online. This has certainly benefited those artists but has been another nail in the coffin of galleries who are promoting the artists but getting cut out of the sales. It also leaves a big question mark for those artists – what are they going to do if their galleries disappear and they no longer have a source for new collectors?

The contraction of the gallery market has even more impact on emerging and mid-career artists. It’s significant to note that in the reports I’ve read, Amazon and other online art retailer’s efforts are to be focused on well-established artists and galleries, not early-career artists. Until someone comes up with a better system (I’m working on it!) galleries remain the most reliable way for artists to gain broad exposure and sales. With fewer galleries and less gallery space out there, the path to gallery recognition and sales is going to become ever narrower. As the gallery market becomes more competitive it’s going to become more important for artists to bring their A-game to bear on their gallery relationship building efforts.

Artists are also going to have to take more of their sales efforts into their own hands. Establishing a track record of sales at shows and through direct and online sales will not only help an artist make a living, it will also help them prove to galleries that they are worth the investment of precious display space and marketing dollars.

Some artists will find that they enjoy the marketing so much and are so effective at it that they will decide not even to approach galleries at all. Instead they will run their own virtual and even, in some cases, their own bricks-and-mortar galleries.

Most artists, however, don’t want to spend their time marketing and selling their work – they want to be in the studio. Many don’t have an interest in that side of the business, or don’t feel capable of doing it all while at the same time continuing to produce the artwork. For them, gallery representation is still the ultimate goal, and the best model for maximizing their profitability.

The Reports of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

So are art galleries going to disappear completely? As I said, I’ve recently read blog posts and articles suggesting that this is the case, and that their demise is imminent. I suspect that this assertion is somewhat premature and that, in fact, galleries aren’t going to disappear as an institution, but rather are simply going to go through a major transformation.

There are great opportunities ahead for both galleries and artists. Our industry is being disrupted by massive technological changes, but in the end, those changes are going to be broadly positive for artists and collectors. They will also be good, I believe,  for galleries that can adapt and for those who find new ways to get the artwork out to collectors (the virtual art dealers). That said, there’s also going to be some real pain while we find our way forward and not everyone is going to survive the changes.

As a gallery owner, I personally am looking forward to this brave new art world, and I hope you are too!

 

What do you Think?

Do you think galleries will still play an important part in the art market? Has the internet made it possible for you to make more of your own sales and freed you from having to work with galleries? What do you think the future holds for artists and galleries? Leave your predictions, thoughts and feelings below in the comments!

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. 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. Connect with Jason on Facebook

40 Comments

  1. Great! Now I will need a better website and I can’t even manage to update the one I have. What are some of the better artist website you have seen? What about online marketplaces such as Fine Art Online, Fine Art America, etc.?

  2. I have found that all of that online marketing is exhausting, time consuming, and not very fruitful for that time and effort. I’d like to stay in my studio more and on the computer less.

  3. Jason,
    Thanks for another interesting discussion.
    In the 1990’s I had a friend who declared that all brick and mortar retail shopping would end with the Internet . I was horrified. No way would I not want to see and touch what I was buying. Turns out he was right about the popularity of internet sales and wrong in his thinking that everyone would prefer to stop going shopping.

    Lots of people love the experience of the market place. Tourists expect to meander through shops offering an interesting quality experience. So, no I don’t think the art gallery is dead.
    Art fairs seem to be a huge competition for the galleries, but when I show, there are always those questions I get asked as a way of assessing my value, “Do you show in a gallery? What gallery?”
    Suzie
    PS Please let me know about your next Scottsdale workshop.

    1. My answer to the gallery question is … no, by choice I do not show in galleries because I’d have to double my prices to break even and the cost would be passed on to you. But I do participate in shows in museums and other cultural institutions and my work is in numerous public collections. That seems to answer the “quality” question to most people’s satisfaction.

  4. Thanks for another very interesting article Jason. Your comments are spot on I think. My observation is that Scottsdale has a lot of galleries, and from my travels in the States, I notice Galleries, large and small in abundance.

    Canada, on the other hand, is the opposite. Other than a few major tourist destinations, and the larger centres, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, etc. the galleries seem have disappeared or were never there. Some small artist owned galleries struggle to survive. More and more artists are turning to the internet to market their work out of desperation. Such a shame.

  5. Good article Jason and it covered a lot of territory. Xanadu Gallery will remain healthy because of your ability to see the changes and adapt to them. You also have partnered with artists to assist them in marketing and offered strong classes and good advice. Many artists across the country can thank you for opening their eyes to the importance of preparing themselves to seek gallery representation and giving them the tools to get there. Your book is full of excellent advice and an eye opener for so many of us. Your blog, podcasts and articles are widely read or viewed. Thank you for your continued engagement in the artist community you certainly have made a difference. I wish you continued success for all the hard work you have put in.

    Paul

  6. Great article Jason. I have always had a love-hate relationship with gallerys. The 50%, 60% charge has always been the bone of contention. I have been in many galleries in the past where the level of service has been terrible. I have talked to artists showing in those galleries to find that they are in the 50%, 60% fee split for very little service.
    I understand the “we have expenses to meet: salary, rent, heat, lighting, etc.” So does the corner grocery store, the cleaners, etc. But unless you’re doing something to justify that percent of the cost I feel that it’s as you describe: the artist is a second class citizen or a poor relation that the gallery is being “kind” and helping out. I know this is not all galleries, and certainly from your blog I don’t believe you operate this way.
    But when you come to the issue of whether or not galleries are dying or not…if they are, they have only themselves to blame. Poor service and lack of representation of your artist will eventually catch up with you.
    I do some work with galleries, entering shows where multiple artists are being represented, and a central theme is used: small paintings, local scenes paintings, etc. I have no illusions on the activity of the gallery staff to push my work, primarily I am interested in getting additional name recognition. Most of my work has been sold online, thru eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and Facebook. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever go into a brick and mortar gallery if I find one who provides the level of service as Xanadu.

    1. I am an artist and gallery salesperson – we still see many artists come in and ask to be represented, most we have to turn away. Space is limited and there are many many artists.
      There may not be as many galleries just due to the fact retail mark up isn’t the same as a clothing or jewelry shop. A 10 dollar cape is usually marked up to around 160 or more – that’s a huge mark up but makes stores thrive. Galleries in resort areas have a lease of 20-40000 dollars a month rent – the percentage is justified. I sell mine in the gallery and happy I get to be there.
      What really hurts the gallery is when a customer comes in looks at the work and then goes home to call the artist – than we represent and work without getting paid. It’s happened to me as a salesperson – Those particular artists we no longer represent.

  7. I agree with you Jason. I still believe in gallery representation being very important for an artist, especially in this environment where social media is overflowing with so much great talent. I feel sometimes it becomes a blur of images. This is where a solid relationship with curators and galleries becomes so important. Credible representation can work it’s way through the crowd.

  8. Jason, I love that you can see, and help us to see doors opening where others only notice the ones that close. It makes an important difference in our attitudes, and contributes to our ability to move forward, when we see doors available that lead to progress.

  9. I’ve been aware of the disappearing art gallery dilemma for years. I’ve been a successful artist for 50 years and find the internet exhausting and time consuming. Looking at a computer screen sucks the life from my studio time.
    I’m between a rock and a hard place. I’ve had success with commissions through galleries in the past. All the galleries that represented me in the past are gone and new galleries seem to open with their own stable.
    My work is not commercial enough for internet shoppers. Sculpture is difficult to ship. Abstract art is a tough sell anyway.
    Many galleries survive by having ‘competitions’ with entry fees juried by college art professors.
    Everyone seems to be on survival mode.
    Thanks for your interesting articles.

  10. Jason,
    Thanks so much for your article as it brings to light not only my thoughts on the subject but conversations with other artists on what is a critical time of change.
    Posting artwork on line is easier for some than others. If we post our work for sale and are not supporting that with effective marketing and exposure to collectors, we can be looked at as street vendors. There is still a great deal to be said for having work exhibited and represented by a gallery. both my wife and I are asked where our work can be seen. They are not asking for a website but where the physical work is.
    Many talented artists are taking an easy way out when they photograph the piece with their phone and post it on a site such as Faso. (The questionable quality of that image is another subject all together).
    For the majority, it stops there. As well represented as many believe they may be, they still must be involved in the marketing to have exposure. As you say, they would rather be in the studio. Multi tasking marketing that which you create leaves room for potential lack of quality results from one or both.

    All that said, you are right on track. Technology and social media will continue to play a great part in how buyers, collectors and any interested party sees our work. But I believe that galleries offer a unique and exciting experience for everyone.
    Some can offer a museum quality exposure to works that should only be seen in person. That’s the downfall of social medial and posted works. The more virtual and 3D we believe in, the less we have contact with the real world.
    Do buyers/collectors purchase works to photograph them and share postings with friends? No, they purchase the works to offer them on display for those visiting to see. Live, as intended originally.
    So the real value of galleries does still exist, perhaps not in the volume as we once knew, but as a support for artists, a marketing portal and a personal connection to a great many who like to trust what the entire community of experience offers.

  11. With online marketing, galleries should be able to take on more artists. It seems to me that if you offer a wide variety of work online, it would add to your 15% sales. Please consider that online gallery. Artists like myself that are trying to break into the market would appreciate it. I am starting to paint large works now, so I fully intend to buy some spots in your catalog. By the way, I really like your determination to keep your Scottsdale gallery open and to open your new gallery. You always try to keep things positive. Blessings to you and your family

  12. Thank you,
    No wonders you are a successful Gallery owner. Your thorough assessment is understandable and actually hopeful for our galleries future. Doesn’t every business need to keep up with the changes our society & Internet dictate. You have given us all a kick in the pants to keep going and not staying stagnant with our marketing of our art. I am part of a co-op/member gallery in Tucson and there are actually three co-op/member galleries in a medium size shopping center. People love being able to go to three different ones.

  13. THank you Jason,
    A couple of words- but first–
    Merchantile “Art Galleries” have been around for at least 400 years. Thy have weathered quite a few upending economic turns.
    The words:
    Responsibility. I just thinking that the one thing adults seem to do is accept responsibility for themselves and what they do. This is critical to success and for an artist who is working from their “insides” with emotions, ideas and other intangibles, this is huge.
    Support. For a visual artist in this age where visual distraction of all sorts seems the order of the day, the visual artist needs a friend who has a sense of what (s)he is trying to do. It’s always better when someone else can speak to the efforts of another.
    It’s hard and ultimately self-defeating in my opinion based on experience to remain holed up in a studio with yourself for company.
    As to bricks and mortar- the internet of things and goods, is housed somewhere, isn’t it?
    I’ll stop here.The next part would be how to create that emotional atmosphere that seems to drive how the art work gets from the studio to a collector.

  14. Great article Jason. As far as online gallery sales through your gallery, is the artist responsible for shipping work, or does the gallery do that?

  15. I would LOVE to have the opportunity to put my work in a gallery to have that exposure and promotion, but I live in a small town in Central Wisconsin where it seems there are so few. Plus I paint landscapes of the West/Southwest so it also doesn’t fit for the area I live in. So I have to resort to putting my work online. I have not yet had any art sales. So much competition out there! If I ever would get a sale, the thing that scares the begezzus out of me, is shipping!!!! How to package it and ship it.? I like to work large (36″x36″ and larger). The shipping issue I believe a gallery knows how to handle and takes care of it for the artist. I have no clue. Even though I’ve been an artist almost all my life, I really haven’t considered myself to be a professional artist until the last five(ish) years. I guess you could say I’m entry level in my art career?

  16. Interestingly, I first heard about Xanadu in a book about how to sell my art online. The author cited Xanadu as one of the few galleries that is adapting successfully to the internet sales world. Kudos!
    I know you have an online catalog. Do you find that you are able to engage customers online with the same degree of success as in person?
    I hope that in your class (I’m on the waiting list) you will teach about how to select a gallery that is not only a good fit for the artwork, but also has an energetic sales staff.

  17. I have sold much, much more on-line over the last year than I did in a gallery (example: over the last 2 months, I sold 1 painting that was hanging in the gallery, and 7 paintings ‘hanging’ in my on-line shop). Not surprisingly, I decided to pull my work out of the gallery. That said, the reason that I am selling well on-line is because I spent time and effort to create a website entirely focused on my ideal customer. I didn’t use a template or pre-formatted step-by-step approach in designing my website and definitely didn’t try to appeal to all audiences. Rather, I zero in on my ideal customer, then speak to her with words and images that she relates to, that makes her feel as if she is sitting across the table from me. The result is a small niche audience that keeps buying more and more of my artwork, books and classes. My next step is to use SEO and other on-line marketing tips to increase my audience. But for now, for me, on-line is the way to go!

  18. I’ve been thinking heavily on this topic recently. I have my own website that I keep up and it keeps friends & customers updated and able to buy art (although, Facebook is more updated than my site). To date, I’ve sold over 11K online as a part-time artist, with most of the sales being prints of my paintings, not originals. The problem is finding new customers beyond friends of friends and key-word searches that find my site.

    So, I’m venturing out – I read Jason’s book a while back and have painted a collection of works that I’ll be taking soon to galleries. I’ve updated all my info and scouted out possible galleries where my work would fit. In some ways this is an experiment to see if it’s worth the time and effort. It’s about the same amount of time I’d spend putting them up on my site and then doing the advertising. But my hope is that I’ll generate new followers/clientele by going through galleries. I may try to balance doing both, as my landscapes are fit for galleries and my religious works fit online.

  19. Jason, another nice post. Mixed emotions here. Galleries have to take that 50% or 40%. While art sales have gotten several degrees tougher, rents for those great locations have gone from crazy to impossible: $10K a month for a medium-sized spot in Santa Fe to $30K for a prime location in Jackson Hole. And that’s before paying the staff and turning on those expensive lights, not to mention all the (sometimes fruitless) running around to deliver art, etc., etc., etc. On the other hand, most of the galleries still seem to be in the old mode, waiting for those great collectors to walk in the door. I would love to see those emails, Instagrams, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts coming (with ALL the artists’ work) one after another. Not so much so far. One gallery said they were worried about sending too many emails and posts, that some folks unsubscribed. Jason, I think you have it right. If the folks on the list don’t want the emails, they aren’t interested anyway. My wife, who does most of this computer stuff is just coming up to speed on doing all those kinds of posts, pointing folks to my studio AND my galleries. We just need to not worry about doing it too often. After all, somebody out there NEEDS my paintings. (C: Thanks again, Jason.

  20. I love going to art galleries. And I have never been disappointed by art bought in a gallery. I have bought a couple of pieces on line and been dissatisfied. The colour and light are not the same as they look lit up on a screen.

  21. I have been a gallery owner for 37 years. I have clients outside my area that were always inviting us to visit their lovely home because it “contains so many pieces” from our gallery. We recently were heading their direction for other reasons so we arranged to meet up and see their collection. Imagine our surprise when we saw just a few pieces that were actually purchased from us, but several they had purchased directly from the artists after finding their work at our gallery. Not one of these artists had ever mentioned this to us and certainly no commission came our way, even though the clients would have not known their work without finding them at our gallery. This behavior makes it very difficult for art galleries to stay active and alive. Artists out there- if someone comes to you from finding your work in XYZ Gallery (not the name of our gallery)- give the gallery a commission on that sale! The gallery will hold you in a very good light and will spend extra time promoting you and your work the next time a client comes in and is interested in your work. We always spend time on any artist whose work we represent, sometimes an hour or more without a sale. I have even spent an entire day taking a client to an artist’s home to find a piece, had no sale that day and later found out that my client purchased a piece later – leaving us out in the cold for that sale. That was the quiet end of representing that artist for me. It is a two way street and other artists can help here. My artists who do send us commission checks and do help us with the marketing of their work always do better than others and I am grateful and thrilled to continue to represent their work. I am an artist myself and if I find out a purchaser found my work at another gallery or show- I send out the commission check. Galleries have bills and everyone’s time has value.

    1. I have always assumed that there would be a reciprocal relationship between artist and gallery, but after being cheated out of money, given no indication what the art piece sold for so I can accurately represent it on my state sales tax report and IRS report, after being lied to by gallery owners and being told that the art piece could not be found because it must have been stolen, I am completely disenchanted by the art world. I do have one reputable gallery, but that is only 10% of total galleries with whom I have dealt. Galleries want their cut and more with no or little respect for the artist.

  22. Jason – Thank You for your honest and thoughtful discussion regarding online bs bricks and mortar gallery sales. I always appreciate your topics as they are relevant to thinks I have experienced in the art world.

    I would consider myself to be a mid-career artist. I have won numerous awards for my watercolors and street paintings and my work is held in collections throughout the country. I have participated in outdoor shows, shown in several galleries, and summer art shows. I took a break from selling my own art to focus on teaching art for several years o er the last 10 years. The art sales environment has changed dramatically!

    I am currently showing my work at the Cove Gallery, an artist owned and operated gallery in Laguna Beach, CA for Over 40 years! We work as a team to market the gallery, maintain a Shopify website, manage Social Media, host special events, etc. the work is dynamic with a diverse group of juried artists.

    I think that we are seeing a decline in art sales in physical galleries currently. But I believe that art galleries will make a come back, just as book stores are coming back. Art will be accessible online, at art shows, and in galleries; art in three dimensions.

  23. It’s true, many galleries have disappeared in the last 20 years due to technology, but many persist. I regret them going. I love gallery hopping (and Studio Tours, too). I like to see the real thing. The image on line is one thing; the real artwork another. Colours change in the photo processing (enhancing). What you see on line is not necessarily what you get.
    I like to see the texture and surface qualities of a painting before I buy it. I like to know that it has been properly varnished and protected and the sides of the work taken care of. I’m looking for whether the surface is mat in some places and shiny in others (not good). I like to talk to someone about how old the painting is. I don’t want to buy an oil painting that was produced last week because it may change by the end of a year’s time when the oil dries differently in different spaces depending on the pigments used.

    I find that galleries lend accreditation to the artists’ work. I like to talk to the art gallery owner to have an idea how much she or he knows about the art making process, the artist and the imagery of something I like.

  24. I work part time in a small gallery and also have some of my own work hanging there. A number of times we have had customers come in and find an artist’s work they like and then say they are going to go home and go look at their website. I am sure we have never seen results from many of those sales. Just this week, a client came in, saw one of my paintings and then contacted me for a small commissioned piece. I am certainly going to give the gallery it’s due part as the client would not have found me without the gallery.

  25. I think location also has lots to do with gallery success. Places where tourism is high and people want memories of a wonderful vacation or a cruise destination would be an area to think about a gallery in my mind. There, people like bringing back momentos of their trips or stays.

    I can’t see the internet ever taking the place of a gallery altogether. A potential buyer can’t see the artwork in person and learn about the background of the artist like they can when it’s right there in front of them.

  26. I have wrestled with the choice of whether to approach galleries for representation, or go it alone. I am an emerging artist. I can honestly and objectively say that my work is comparable and even in some cases superior to much of the work I see in galleries. However, I am not comfortable with exclusivity clauses. I enjoy posting my work on social media and going into small community shows. Also, I have a very diverse interest range. I enjoy working in different genres and mediums and different subjects. I understand that galleries would want to see me narrow down my focus and stick to a consistent body of work, but I get bored doing the same kind of things all the time. I understand and accept why galleries have to charge 50% commission on art sales, but that means my prices would have to double for me to earn the same amount for my work. Then I can’t charge any less, if selling on my own because it undercuts the gallery. So I remain in art marketing limbo. Do you have any advice or information to add to help me sort out a strategy?

  27. I find myself nodding as I read most of the comments here by other artists. I feel it is more powerful to view art in person and for this, galleries are important. I have a gallery I show in and this gallery changes the exhibition every month. I sometimes leave paintings for multiple months, but it is implied that I should bring something new each month. I have gotten very little help from the gallery during the commission process. This ends up being an annoyance to have someone in the middle who is not communicating and moving the sale along, as I know from experience it all goes smoothly when I deal directly. I truly do wish that I had a gallery that is run as professionally as Xanadu to show and sell my art.

    I have sold much more of my art at art festivals, but it is by no means jumping off the walls. I only do art festivals that are somewhat local to me. I’m not as of yet, driving thousands of miles to an art festival. Customers I meet at art festivals want to know if I’m in a gallery. I can answer yes to that, and hope it helps them to feel more comfortable with purchasing knowing I have that stamp of approval. So for that, it is worth the effort to deal with the gallery.

    I have a website, and haven’t really done any marketing of it yet. No internet sales just yet and that is no surprise given I haven’t marketed it. That is the other question I get when I meet new customers, do you have a website? Perhaps they want to see more, or check if it’s a better price online? That is a really silly notion given they will have to pay shipping when buying online. In reality, it may cause me to lose a face to face sale when a customer tells themselves that they have the comfort of buying it later. They don’t need to make a decision now. I too find it exhausting to update the website and I’ve slacked off during the summer while I’m doing art festivals. If those new paintings sell, I won’t have to put them online anyway.

  28. As a new gallery owner, I hope that art collectors will see that on line purchases, while a convenience, do little for the experience. I shop online for personal things that usually one can find in a store, but living 2 hours away from cities, I am inclined to shop online. But! Art is different, it is not like food or drink, it is more soulful. There is a saying that goes like” Just because one can, doesn’t mean one should.”
    I don’t like the idea of selling art online, but I do. If we have a visitor come to the gallery, but is not in a position to purchase a piece of art at the time, either due to distance from home or other circumstances, we can offer them the chance to purchase it from home and ship it to them. Having already seen it up close, changes how they might dismiss the online store all together.

  29. I am really impressed and applaud how well Jason understands the changes taking place in the art and gallery world and the growing need for Galleries to rethink how they show and sell art. Galleries exist because of the need to gather and present art works in a physical space where visitors and potential buyers can see the real object, and maybe buy them. But as the internet and technology progresses it is growing more possible to have better alternative experiences of works of art. Hence it is beginning to seem like maintaining a physical space just to display an art work is becoming less important and necessary.

    Perhaps it is that the changes in technology are happening so fast these days that many of those who own and run galleries just can’t seem to get beyond the old paradigm of the gallery system. But also I observe in the comments above many artists are in the same place, believing that the only way to sell their art is to get their work physically in one or more places with the work of other artists …. that is in a gallery display. And they also desire an arrangement which turns over all the responsibility and work of representation, including showing and selling, to the gallery so that they can have more time to close their studio door to just make art without interruption. Nice if you can get it.

    But the reality is that in today’s technology world more and more artists must get increasingly savvy about how to present and sell their art as entrepreneurs to be able to survive and prosper. Indeed a hard pill for some artists to swallow.

    But, in the words of the old Bob Dylan song, “The times they are a changin”.

  30. Last year, I lost 3 of the galleries that represent my work. I was well you know. I licked my wounds. Finally got it together and connacted my last gallery. To my delight, they were anxious for more of my work. They sold several large pieces after I changed the frame on one and dropped off other pieces.
    So why is this gallery flourishing? The gallery has two rooms for art and one room for wine tasting. It is in an area of wineries. Most of the wineries have galleries and gallery openings. This combo is working. The art openings are filled with people socializing and viewing art.
    I think there is an oportunity for art galleries to network with other biz to create joint social events. Galleries are not dead. They just need to evolve.

  31. One online gallery that has it figured out is Saatchi Online. I have sold at least a half-dozen sculptures through that site, including two in excess of $10,000. Their employees and practices are smart, and their Website is easy to use.

    In this era, however, I have thus far found it best to not rely on any one outlet to sell my work. I also sell through my own Website, including gaining the attention of many art consultants who are searching online for artwork. Overall, I have sold in excess of $250,000 of work online.

    That being said, I also sell through traditional galleries and shows. Like almost every other business, galleries need to rethink what they are doing to take advantage of current opportunities. Successful artists also need to figure out what works for them and do more of that.

  32. Very interesting article, Jason. I am selling fine art photographs and 90% of my photographs sold thru people that are actually seen and touched the physical framed photograph. Many of them have seen my works thru online but they decided to buy it once they saw the physical framed photograph. They told me they did not expect that the picture actually looks beautiful when it framed and hanged on the wall. I still believe that the gallery play an important part in the art market.

  33. I have galleries that sell my art and are relatively consistent in the sales. I also sell pieces on my face book page. I have done shows in the past years..that is not the best venue any more for my locale. I have an online gallery with Fine Art America which generates very little in sales. As an artist, it is hard to market your own work, but I have found through the years that involving yourself in the sales of your work builds a bonding relationship with your buyer. I get personally involved with them and they with me..Every person is a potential buyer, and I love to share myself first, then listen to them (I mean listen ) as they have a story too. The the art becomes a sale and a friend is made who ultimately may become and most likely will become a repeat buyer.

  34. I’m an artist, but also a collector. I love going to galleries and discovering new artists to collect. I hope galleries will continue to thrive in whatever capacity they can because often they nurture artists who lack a business acumen or online presence and who might not otherwise have been discovered.

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