Video: Ask a Gallery Owner | How Many Artists Can a Gallery Effectively Represent?

In this session, I respond to a question from an artist named Grace in NJ:

“In researching galleries, I notice some galleries represent hundreds of artists. Literally 25 w the last name starting with an “A” and so on through the alphabet. Are they galleries that just have your images on file for people to peruse? What is your take or experience with galleries such as these?”

What do you think?

Are you currently, or have you been in the past, represented by a gallery (online or off) that purports to represent hundreds or even thousands of artists? Have you had sales through the gallery? What do you feel is the optimal number of artists for a gallery to represent? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Have a question you would like me to answer in an upcoming session? Post it in the comments as well.

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 reddotblog.com, 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.

13 Comments

  1. I am currently in a warehouse gallery with over 65 artists. In my opinion I think ‘space’ matters regarding this question. The gallery I’m in is more like Interior design vignettes – which I love. I’ve been in some galleries with over 1,000 artists and it’s a visual overload for me.

    I would say no more than 50.

    Thanks for this blog.
    Nancy

    1. Absolutely, space is critical in terms of the number of artists. I, too, have visited galleries on both ends of the spectrum, and it all comes down to finding what works for the space and artists.

      1. I was represented by few art galleries before with one gallery carry around at least 40-60 artists at the same time and kinda noticed that onced your works are more saleable than others, they’re kind of favored you compared to others whose artworks are not that saleable, that’s what I thought. I left both of them and just be my boss šŸ˜‚šŸ˜†

  2. As you said, Jason, it depends on the wall space as to the number of 2-D artists represented. I’m in a gallery with large wall space and 40 to 45 2-D artists seems about right for that space. We all get a nice display of our work. The owner also does a great job of respecting our styles and subject matter and looks to have artists that are not overlapping in style so a new artist doesn’t detact sales from someone who has been in the gallery for a while. I’ve also been in small galleries where the limit was more like 20 2-D artists so there was enough space for each artists to have several samples of work. Gallery storage space also is a huge factor. If they have good storage then they can have several more peices by each artist to draw from if a customer wants to see more than is what is currently on display.
    I have also been in one gallery where you were featured in one show with maybe 10 peices for one month and the rest of the year your work was only shown online. I had no sales from that venue because the number on online artists was too large to help anyone find you and your work was really only acrtively promoted for about two months: the month before and the month of the physical gallery show.

    1. Thank you for your input April! It sounds like you’ve had a range of experiences, from galleries with a lot of artists to those with only a few, and as you say, each gallery is different, and it’s important to find one that is a good fit for your work.

  3. Since you have two physical galleries and I know you successfully represent the artists in those galleries, Iā€™m wondering how much you catalogue/ online gallery artists fair by comparison. Does having the physical space enhance the chances your catalogue/online artists have for promotion? Is there an advantage to those catalogue/online artists or are their chances for sales the same as a straight online gallery representation?

  4. Having been one of your online artists a number of years ago I am wondering why you closed that up. We were called Studio Artists then. I even took out an ad in your catalogue. I would think the online artists would give you more opportunity to make sales.

  5. I would think that having a lot of artists in a gallery would be very confusing for clients. I have been told that representing a few good artists leads to more sales. Too many choices can lead to indecision on the part of buyers.

    1. I currently own an art gallery in an upper Midwest river town. It’s a tourist destination but very close to Minneapolis so there is $$$ close by. I am now showing a total of 83 2D artist and 10 jewelers, some pottery and wood. Each artist has their own wall space that they essentially manage; deciding what they want to show and how long (I ask them to try to rotate new work every 3-4 months) to maintain their business cards, etc. The artists pay a fee (rent) their space and get 100% of their sales minus 5% for banking fees. I only make money personally when I sell my own photography!
      To me, the owner, presentation is everything, good spacing between paintings, not too much on their walls because yes, a gallery with over 90 artist can be over whelming to the client! I expanded last March 2023 and now have a total of approx. 4,250 square feet. 2/3 to 3/4 of my artists sell something every month, as I pay them every month for their previous months sales. I am full and have a waiting list of juried applicants to get into the gallery.
      What sells for an artist is knowing what your market wants! What sells in Minneapolis may not sell in my gallery and visa versa only 20 minutes away! I often have artists say; “Bob, I’m not selling, what can I do?!” Well, you’re a good, because you’re in my gallery, so lets look at your pricing. Is it too high for this market, or is it your subject matter? If you like to paint “palm trees”, etc. then no, you won’t sell here because people that live around palm trees don’t necessarily want to buy a painting of a palm tree and a beach when they visit the upper Midwest! what other subject matter can you paint? Sometimes its just that the right client just hasn’t walked into the gallery yet!
      In closing, I think its very important how a gallery displays your art. Does the gallery look professional, clean, are the people working there friendly, knowledgeable, and most of all don’t try to “sell/push” to the customers, but do show an interest in just helping them with the art they see and are interested in possibly purchasing by describing the piece on the wall and a brief description of the artist that created the work and the like. We totally let the client make the decision.
      Go to gallery’s you want to be in. look at the art. look at the pricing from gallery to gallery in a given area, THEN, approach the owner about their entrance process if you feel comfortable in that gallery.
      Good Luck!

  6. I have seen the upstairs of a very well-known gallery in Santa Fe that represents about 75 well-known artists…and they do cycle them in and out of their display space, curating wonderful themed shows. Upstairs is rows of boxes leaning against a wall…but they do well.

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