Reframe How You Think About Galleries

Time for a change of mindset: Add galleries to your stable rather than the other way around.
In an issue of his Twice-Weekly Letter, Robert Genn responded to a frustrated artist whose format was being copied by his fellow artists in a co-op:

Keep supplying your work to the gallery, but don't hang out there. Look for other galleries, collectives and friends who may not be as likely to clone. Your success is your calling card.
Take control and put galleries in your stable, not you in theirs. Keep pursuing your private bliss. Your natural curiosity, creative flair and good work habits will take you to your next epiphany.

The impetus for the letter (the copycat in the gallery) isn't nearly as interesting to me as that one sentence.
It's a reminder that you have power over your career.
You may think that galleries, curators, and critics have the power. And they do. They have as much power as you give them.
You're in charge of your art career. It's the first of the 6 Principles of No-Excuse Self-Promotion.

If you're interested in adding galleries to your stable, I have recently updated the $7 Instant Answer Guide titled Approach Galleries Without Fear.

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8 thoughts on “Reframe How You Think About Galleries”

  1. I would add to the power statement to put your money where your mouth is…If you want to take back the power from galleries, then force them to drop back their commission take…If a gallery only takes 1/3 of a sale, they know the artist is in power…
    Also- if something is bugging you in a gallery, like a copycat married to the director, Tell them! Give them the chance to correct…Sometimes a flaw is an excellent way to get an apology-like a solo show you have been wanting…

    1. Good point, Sari. It’s ineffective to complain to anyone other than the person that can do something about the problem.

  2. All Artists -and everyone else too-.
    I am exploring art-marketing from a different angle. I am in Maine, a large rural state with a diffuse art community spread out over many miles of coastline up into the furthest reaches of the Aroostook woods which are mentioned in Melville’s -Moby Dick-.
    Having looked at the online auctions sites, and listing galleries, I’ve become convinced the canned Internet packages of auctions sites and pay-to-list art galleries are a waste of time and effort.
    People sell art. Salesmen who can close the sale -sell art.
    Art is an investment, not a dress or a spaghetti dinner. Someone has to be there to tell the potential buyer, “You’ll do well investing in this art. If you like it, buy it. It’s going to last for longer than you or I.”
    Therefore -I do not offer art online -that can be bought online.
    I display art online. And I boldly price it online. But no where can anyone buy my art online. They’ve got to call, minimally. I put up a telephone number. I also put up an address.
    One other thing I’ve come to realize is -art is sold to local buyers -first-.
    Art-sales communities should be built community-by-community, artist by artist, buyer and investor-by-buyer and investor.
    I just started MaineArtists.US in January of 2011. Take a look-see. It’s going to be a long term project. I am less focused on “hits” than I am focused on the quality of the presentation- and its marketing success.
    I’m only interested in showing art by Maine artists, and then, only paintings -and- those will be shown in online galleries focused on their own communities.
    For every painting I display, there must be a wall where it can be hung. This is key to my conception of art. If there is no wall for a painting, I am not interested. A lot of paintings are made for which there is no wall.
    I also do not show thumbnail pictures. That’s a lazy man’s trip to an online gallery.
    If you are in Maine, come join me.
    Don Robertson
    Director, MaineArtists.US

  3. Well said. That is one powerful sentence, Alyson. I had never thought of it that way before. Now I’ll never think of it as any other way. Thanks for the laser beam focus!

  4. Prediction: I think that galleries will become just another tool for artists to work with, instead of being the end all, be all that they seem to be for artists now. If artists change the way they think, then artists will be in charge of their own careers, instead of thinking they have to have someone else do it for them.
    You no longer need a gallery to have a successful career, so artists should look at everything as a tool, and use it accordingly.

  5. Karen-
    Galleries? Ha!
    There are so many good painters out there, and really good painters too.
    What they need is to be challenged.
    That is the Renaissance that is coming. Reach down deep and say to yourself, with just a little more time I can paint better than that!
    Feel challenged.
    And think sales, like a fox thinks about hens in a chicken coup. -Or- find someone to handle all your sales.
    I am recruiting people all over Maine to do just that. To paint, and to sell paintings for painters and collectors.
    The two types go hand-in-hand.
    Believe me, -there ARE people out there who can sell paintings just as well as any of us can paint them.
    It’s building the community to put the two together that is going to push us all over the top into another Renaissance.
    -Don Robertson

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