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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Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of 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

33 Comments

  1. From the proliferation of artists’ works appearing online, wouldn’t that mean that galleries have more selection to choose from? It seems to me, then, that galleries could be in a position to choose the very best. Just a thought. I don’t know if it really works that way or not.

  2. For quite a few years now, I have been showing and selling my own work without gallery representation. I empathize with gallery owners but in my experience too many of them lack the business acumen or respect for artists that Jason has. The internet is certainly my primary marketing tool even though I have yet to see direct sales from it. Obviously, it provides unlimited outreach and I take full advantage of that whenever possible. Recently, I have taken on a very large studio space in San Diego with intentions to use it for painting as well as showing and having intimate events, salons, etc. Jason, I look forward to hearing about the “better system” you are working on!

    1. I think that’s partly to do with proximity . . . the internet is right in your house, whereas you have to go looking for a gallery, and in some areas, they’re not that easy to find.

  3. There is this idea floating out there that the market will have to hear your name SEVEN times before it starts to take you serious. The gallery system is one important link in that chain. What the gallery system offers the artist is exposure to their mailing list. It goes without saying that the artist must have a quality product that is recognizably theirs.

  4. I agree that galleries are not dead, but certainly changing. I’m not a strong believer in the internet taking over from galleries, but I do think we are seeing a rise in Art Shows. I see many galleries with a new business model of just participating in Art Shows around the country (L.A. Art Show, Art Palm Springs, SOFA Chicago, Art Basel, Art Miami, Art Aspen etc…) and not having brick and mortar spaces. I read a report that 70 percent of art is sold at shows, either by artists having their own booths or the larger gallery driven shows. To me that is the current future for selling art.

  5. I believe that the gallery market will get more competitive, not less so. I think, though without academic research, that there are more galleries, not fewer, in the greater Los Angeles market. I wonder if this is true in other major art markets, too. Although buyers and collectors relish buying online and buying directly from the artist, many other buyers are more casual and less certain about what they are buying. I think that many buyers prefer to have a gallery pre-certify and pre-select among all the artists’ work available and thus help to “certify” and validate available choices. Thus, the gallery functions as a kind of filtering system that provides more prestige and validation for artist and collector. I believe that galleries will continue to have an important function in today’s art market. (Although I have been an artist since an early age, I have also been a gallery owner, though my gallery [1985 thru 1996] has been closed for 20+ years.)

  6. Excellent article covering the many angles of this puzzle. As a mid career artist (I hope) and having tried having a small gallery, I am so grateful for galleries who work tirelessly to sell my work! There is nothing so inspiring and pleasing as having someone enter a room and hear their inbreath as they are stunned by a painting. While I’m not always present for these events, I’m lucky enough to be in a gallery where staff always relates them. I do believe that although websites/online sales are wonderful and effective, there is nothing that replaces the undeniable ‘presence required’ of standing before a piece of art, of falling in love with it. It is a whole body/mind/heart experience that is, of necessity, somewhat diminished by the flat square of pixels. Long live the art gallery!

    1. Melissa, Your words beautifully expressed how I feel about seeing art in the real world.

      “there is nothing that replaces the undeniable ‘presence required’ of standing before a piece of art, of falling in love with it. It is a whole body/mind/heart experience that is, of necessity, somewhat diminished by the flat square of pixels. Long live the art gallery!” is truly poetic!

      Thank you!

  7. I think galleries will continue to be around for a long time. The online resources that are available to them will only increase their visibility and sales. Visitors to cities know for their artistic atmosphere will still want to experience art in person, especially if they want to take something home to remember their trip. I have only had a couple of direct sales online, 95% of my sales come through galleries. It is totally worth the commission I pay.

  8. Jason, I think you are right on target with your comments. Galleries are not going to disappear but they are going to have to change to be able to sustain themselves in this new digital millennium. But maybe there will be fewer galleries as some are going to be unable to adapt to this new art world.

    Galleries will not disappear as they offer a unique experience that is more akin to museums. A gallery visitor has the opportunity to physically experience art works in a real space and time. Experiencing art on a computer is just not quite the same.

    However seeing art on the internet does provide the ability to see a lot more contemporary art, more works by new emerging artists, and provide more of a sense about where the art world is going. I get information from 3 or 4 emails daily which provides a glimpse of where shows are happening, what is new and exciting, and what art is selling for. You can’t get this kind of information from a gallery or museum visit but then you can’t get the full impact of works of art from your computer screen.

    Perhaps the way to look at this is that overall the internet is positive and adding to our experience and appreciation of art. We now have the ability to see more art all the time. And more importantly there is the significant growth towards purchasing art on line which will only increase, and perhaps exponentially.

    In the end this is a good thing for those artists who yearn after supporting themselves solely on their art as the internet provides many new possibilities for income. But exactly how this will impact galleries in the long run is still an open question.

  9. Jason; If all galleries had your business acumen and learned to engage with artists as you have they too would be successful. It takes a lot of work and engagement and you have obviously done your research and are engaged online, have a catalog and run an art gallery and art business academy for artists. You have energy and a will to make your gallery successful and it certainly is. Thanks for al you do to help artists market their work, by your good instruction. your caring for artists has been good for your gallery but even more so has benefited many artists around the country. A big thank you!

    Paul

  10. My painting studio is here in Santa Fe. Once the ‘go to’ Mecca for buying art, today, not so much. The famed Canyon Road still has some great galleries among its more than 80 or so, but it isn’t uncommon to see one or two slip away every so many months. It’s sad but I think Jason has a point – many galleries have taken their artists and buyers for granted and are now paying the price. I show with a local gallery as well as others in neighboring states and I still rely on those galleries to sell the bulk of my work. With the current state of flux with the art commerce world, I’m sure that artists will need to reinvent the sales wheel soon. We have a weekend artshow in the downtown area here where artists who belong to an association sell mainly to tourists. Many of those artists do very well in sales over the weekend and realize profits far beyond what the galleries would share with them. I started out my career 30 years ago doing those summer art shows before ‘moving up’ to gallery representation. Maybe it’s time to swing full circle.

  11. The art market definitely is changing. Historically people enjoyed gallery hopping, in an effort to find that one treasure to hang on their wall. Younger buyers today are now exposed to shows such as Art Basel where they can view a lot of work under one roof with the impression that it is of quality. The internet has made even purchasing a home online possible without physically viewing it. The surprising thing is that people are actually that comfortable with that process. Other gallery owners have shared with me that this sort of buyer feels comfortable buying online once they have experienced the artist’s work at least once in person. Galleries do offer another side of exposure and buying opportunity to the artist; however do need to grow and evolve along with social media. Artists need to understand the value of having a gallery who is committed to them and what they have to offer. The gallery and the artist both need to work together for the greater goal, while respecting the efforts of each other.

  12. I’ve thought about these angles before but not with all this information, and it’s very helpful to see it all set out like this. Helps you think and figure it out for yourself. I have never been much of a professional gallery artist for reasons I’ll describe as personal for now. But when I do sell in non-profit art club galleries, pop-ups, festivals, outdoor and indoor weekend art shows, etc., I have developed a successful way to help a potential customer acquire an image they love.

    Most of the events I attend do the “booth thing,” with anywhere from 20 to 150 or more individual artists and craftspeople setting up 10×10 tents on a beautiful California day or weekend. If they are indoors the spaces are set up with portable walls, a table and chairs as necessary. My display utilizes colorful larger pieces to grab attention and bring people in. When someone loves one of the large pieces we discuss price, and when I can’t settle on a price they are comfortable with, I start to point out my next-largest print of the same image. I stress that they can still get the image they love, and for less. I watch them carefully and as I go down the 4 or 5 different sizes of the image I usually have available (sizes all the way down to high quality note cards), I very often land on a price point that will work. Curiously if they go all the way down to note cards they’ll usually buy several of those for what a larger print would have cost them.

    To some it may seem like cheapening the art by having different sizes and lessening the whole conversation to “there’s something in here that they will buy,” but my art skills are mainly what I have to make a go of it in life and by figuring out this sales method it has been a good ride. I have always wanted to make people happy through my art, and I keep doing that, so this works for me.

    I also love to print and package my own paper prints and the note cards, so there is a lot of personal pleasure in it for me also. My profit gets larger as the prints get smaller, yet they are all reasonably and competitively priced with the other artists in the shows I do.

    All that said, in order to gain higher income I wonder if some galleries might adopt parts of this idea to sell more high-quality items, not necessarily all large pieces. A good sales person can see when a price is too high and the customer is disappointed that they can’t purchase something they just fell in love with. This is where the prints solve that problem and the sales person shifts gears.

    It’s a real shame that art galleries are closing bit by bit–kind of like reading on an electronic device vs. preferring to read a real book, enjoying the weight and feel of the book in your hands and turning the pages. And that beautiful handmade bookmark. The longer you’re on this planet the more paradigm shifts you are faced with. The word “Adapt!” rings in my ears as one lone person with artistic skills, when I first realized it would do me good to learn computer skills also and adapt to this new medium. The production value is extremely high and I’m still circling around the sun. I admit I still love to open the cabinet and gaze at all my oil paints, take in the paint aroma and all its memories, and even use them now and then!

    What will they come up with next?

  13. In the book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol”, he said “an artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.” He’s right.

    I tend to consider art galleries that aren’t glorified frame shops, jewelry stores, classrooms, or do “paint your own pottery” as kind of like high-end new car dealerships. There are parallels. Nobody needs a $70,000+ car, but perhaps you have the means and you want it. You’ve got to have the right kind of sales staff, the right kind of showroom, enough clientele in the area who know about your business and want to support it, and appropriate product that appeals. To pay the bills, you do other things like fleet or commercial sales, internet sales, used vehicles, locate cars, and have some mechanics around for repairs. And for every Lexus dealership, there is a Lincoln, BMW, Cadillac, Acura, Infiniti, etc, in the area, hustling the same crowd.

    Along comes Tesla, and the obsequious tech media constantly write about how dealerships will end due to buying direct from the manufacturer. Why, some day you’ll just order your new car over the internet and Jeff Bezos will deliver it. It’ll be nirvana. Well, that’s happened, but it hasn’t really happened. Do we even want that kind of revolution to occur? I like my car salesman, dealership, and mechanic. To me, there’s considerable value in personal service.

    Kudos to Jason for branching out into other areas. The Art Business Academy has taken me places I never could have gone on my own. ArtSala has gotten my inventory organized. And he’s developed quite a roster and farm team from the internet.

    In the tech industry, there’s an influential book about software development from 1975 by Fred Brooks called “The Mythical Man-Month”. One of Brooks’ catch phrases is “there is no silver bullet”, and I think it’s appropriate for the higher-end art gallery. What works for a gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, might not work for one in Santa Fe, Houston, Des Moines, or New York.

  14. For myself, as a small gallery owner, I feel that what Ray Wiggs outlined, is bang on the money. We set up just four months ago in a small English village but it is only a few miles from one of the biggest galleries in the UK, and one of a chain…and I keep a close eye (and ear) on what people are looking at, talking about (especially on social media). It is about being able to work alongside ones colony of artists.

    With some of our emerging talent, we have provided canvases, paints etc and with others, have paid a small amount in advance with reduced commissions, too. But we also provide encouragement when the going gets tough…and help with marketing for those who are not natural sales people or ‘net savvy. It IS about working together…and we have set OUR gallery as a place of artistic refuge and support, not just as a place for art sales. Some great posts and ideas, here, Jason.

  15. I personally have been saddened by the changes. I have been in over 200 Gallery exhibitions over the last 50 years and that was the mainstay of my income as a full time artist. I have had my own websites since 1995 and online sales are picking up every year although I realize that clients have to wade through lots of rubbish online as there is no quality control or jurying online as there is with brick and mortar galleries.

    It used to be that if you had gallery representation, it meant that you had “paid your dues” so to speak, and were among the “chosen few”. Now the playing field is completely level and the Internet is filled with Sunday painters, students and paintings done at “painting parties”. The change came so abruptly! I miss the old days but right from the beginning of the change, I have been adapting to the new realities of marketing my art.

  16. Hmmm interesting thoughts Jason. I agree that the artist must take control of their own destiny. Gone are the days of relying on a handful of bricks and mortar galleries as the sole marketers of your work. I won’t work with a Gallery that restricts my marketing efforts. I choose my venues based on location reputation and most importantly their ability to pay my portion promptly when they do make a sale. I’m not in this for fame or fortune, I’m in this to pay my bills and hopefully have a little mad money left. I generally add one or two venues a year and drop at least one that is causing me pain with little result. I’ve worked with wonderful flexible galleries that give me freedom to create and I’ve worked with the opposite (for a very short while). The art Business is no different to any other commercial enterprise, it’s tough out there and flexible, creative, dedicated, strong, resourceful teams are the ones that survive. PS I love the idea of artist videos, looking at openings and shows as a performance and finding ways to tap into cultural tourists. Thank you Jason.

  17. Thank you Jason for an insightful analysis of the rapidly changing art marketing world. It seems artists can no longer just paint – they have to proactively market and sell their work. These changes are parallelin whta has been happening to writers and the publishing and book selling industries

  18. Jason, I live and work in Thailand and would dearly love to show my work in a B&M gallery in America or Europe but don’t think it will ever happen because where I live and work.

    I also use your website artsala, which btw is great apart from the contact section is not as easy as it ought to be.

    I sell mainly online with the principal galleries and now more so with much smaller ones, I am often in ArtFinder’s best selling list.

    I have sent my work to some very discerning collectors in over 28 countries and to some great landmarks such as Berkeley Square in London’s Mayfair, 5th Ave New York, Malibu beach in California from Washington to Hollywood in LA.

    From Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, South Korea and The Philippines In fact, one of her best collectors is in Amsterdam which is not short of great artists or galleries, for which I am very proud.

    Without online galleries, the above would never have happened.

  19. I embarked on selling my oil paintings on social media and I hit gold with Facebook! I have been selling my work on that platform really well and now it may be hard for me to place my work in a gallery that I will have to split the profits with.
    I have discovered that I can sell quite well! I would hate to see bricks and mortar galleries die out completely though.

  20. Thank you for this info! I do think about this a lot as I have a gallery in Flagstaff, AZ & I’m in my 19th year. We have created an environment for art & people always comment on how much they enjoy the gallery. We strive for the 5 senses; touch, smell, seeing, great music for the ears & taste, we usually have chocolate. People usually hang out for quite a while as we represent over 80 artists & many different mediums. I realize that clientele that love to gallery hop are getting older & we need to step it up in our online presence. My website needs updating & I am pretty old school, I still keep my books with a pencil, it works for me. I am hoping to be around for several more years, I work the gallery 4-5 days a week & the feedback we get is nothing that an internet experience can match, it’s part of the art experience. We have a very healthy art walk here on the First Friday of every month & we will sometimes have 1500 people walk through our doors in the 3 hours of the event, many of them are monthly visitors. I am looking into some modernizing but I must say it’s only gotten better for us. Thanks for your articles Jason!

  21. No more rejection letters to look forward to by the artists is definitely a plus. Karma comes to us all in many forms. It is up to the gallery owners to learn and grow from this existential threat or perish. For a long time artists were dependent on the galleries. Tides have certainly changed now and for the better for the internet savvy artists. It is quite a liberating experience to have this power to reach out to the world right at your fingertips. The main thing for the artists now is to find their niche and create stuff that truly matters to them. If their vision has any merit, collectors will find them. Being authentic goes a long way. High quality work will sell with or without a gallery.

  22. As a well established Artist based in Brighton on the south coast of England, my experience has taught me that every sales opportunity is a good one! I have seen the massive changes in the industry & I have embraced them… I used to be the typical reclusive Artist working & hiding away in my garret but not anymore. To achieve what I want to achieve in the Art-World I have had to learn lots of new skills, including the ones you talk about Jason & I love it!

  23. I’ve recently had the joyful experience of expanding my appreciation of a particular artist or artwork purely because of the enthusiasm and knowledge of the gallery staff. It was illuminating, and highlighted why I am going to the effort of obtaining gallery representation.
    I have also visited galleries where the gallerist barely acknowledged me. No thanks!
    I think this might explain why some galleries are going out of business, and also why online access will always lack something very important to the process.
    As for me, I struggle to get enough time in the studio as it is, without having to take on another task for which I am ill-suited. So I hope that good galleries stick around for a long time.

  24. People like to see art in person. Sometimes the salesperson can push a sale. But hi rents and higher employee salaries are an issue. Online sales can be cheaper, as artist does not have to give 50% to the galleries.

    I hope galleries stay in biz. It baffles me how they do, especially in hi rent NYC. I think some galleries are run as tax write offs. Rich people may run them for vanity and don’t care about profits. I like visiting and looking at their shows. If they have a sign-in book, I stamp my name in it and sometimes put one of my photo stickers in it. I could never afford to buy anything from an art gallery myself. I run a large photo and film archive, but it is dedicated to underground, unknown, snubbed and ignored photographers and artists.

    I did an interesting project about 6 years ago. I wrote to 80 of the top photo galleries in the US. I offered 5 free 11 x 14 prints of my photos donated to them. Only catch was they could not sell them, they were for the owners personal collection. Not one taker. Galleries push names, not no name art.

    Google: ‘Anal photo collectors value the signature more than the photo’

    That gives you the rundown on how collectors think.

  25. Yes, gallery numbers will continue to dwindle unless the 25-40’s age group starts buying art from galleries. However that age group, sometimes called millennials, likes to self curate their own art experience. They do not believe in “experts” advising them what to buy.

    So it’s simple market vs. demand. The market (customers) needed to sustain art galleries is diminishing. The demand for buying art is diminishing .

    Another observation: There is a glut of available art in the market place. So when a buyer looks at art online, at OpenStudios or even on an artists website they are confronted with the paradigm of choice; they can’t pick a piece because there are so many pieces and possibilities they are giving up. So often they continue to look.

  26. Just a thought Jason on a new idea for galleries. What if you entered a gallery that had at least one original piece of artwork for the customer to see the quality. Then next to each piece of art would be a big screen for customers to see what other pieces were available from that artist. Then head phones available to hear and see the artist talk about their work and process. I know if I was spending a lot of money for art I would not buy without seeing the quality. This would somewhat eliminate the inexperienced sales person. This might be a fun experience at a modern tech gallery for the new generation. Kind of like going to a museum. Just thinking out loud. LOL

    1. Jane, you might be on to something with that idea. Or having the QR codes (those square bar code) next to a painting. I have often pulled out my cell phone to look up artists and I’ve seen other people do it.

  27. All I can say is Hail to the Art Gallery! I have had so much success this year with one of the art galleries my art is hung for sale in. The traveling tourists still want to take a piece home with them and the only way to fall in love with the art when people travel is to see the art in the gallery. They are standing there on the island or travel spot and the art emits the same sentiments, capture, feeling or iconic scenery they admire so greatly. It’s a win, win for the gallery owner, the buyers and the artist.
    I am grateful for brick & mortar art galleries. May they live forever. Just like museums that survive hundreds of years, people love to see art in person. The experience is totally encompassing.

  28. Great article Jason.

    It’s bang on.

    We mustn’t forget that the purpose of a gallery, whether online or brick-and-mortar, is ultimately to serve artists.

    They are our clients, our charges, our sources of the product that allows us to conduct the business we love.

    I run an online marketplace for original artwork. I don’t call it a “gallery”, but that is essentially what it is.

    I’m also on the Board of a brick-and-mortar gallery with it’s own unique challenges.

    In both roles, I feel that my primary duty is to champion the interests of artists, whether that is by selling their art, providing business coaching & education or by advocating for artists’ rights (resale rights are the big one over here in Canada and the US).

    In my mind, every artist is their own “business”, and every business needs a team to survive and thrive.

    I think the way of the future is to get better at connecting artists to their team.

    For example, maybe an artist has a dealer, is represented in a brick-and-mortar-gallery, has an art business coach, and lists on their own website and multiple online galleries.

    It doesn’t need to be one or the other.

    It’s the building of these complex networks and relationships that I think is and will continue to be a big part of being a successful artist.

    The key is leverage all the options out there and bring them together into a coherent art business with the artist at the center.

    There needs to be a balance between the artist being the producer, marketer, salesperson, business and admin person on the one end and the artist just creating art and handing over the business side entirely to a gallery on the other end. There’s got to be a middle ground.

  29. Great article! Much food for thought. I found a one full day class at our community college on promoting your small business through about 4 or 5 different social media..Twitter, Instagram, etc. I will be attending this in 2 weeks. This type class should be very helpful for artists just starting to promote their art, like I am.

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