Firstly and one of the most primary is they provide a market place for an artist’s work which is the only recognised real market participation/ environment that is proven. They need to have an established market price, a reputation and develop a following, independent from self marketing. Private art trading is not visible to the art market place and does nothing to build reputation and credibility! Art galleries provide an independent support platform catering for artists, their display and exhibition mounting and presentation. They cater for client/potential buyers communication on several levels and provide professionalism to all parties.
Should an artist engage in the market place they need considerable skills or need to learn them, which is of course fraught with problems. I here you say ‘what’? Here is a short list of the concerns I foresee:
(i) First and foremost; have you asked yourself why you want to be an artist? Surely it is to make not market! For to do the latter is a major distraction and you will have to develop a strong learning curve and self improvement. But wait, am I not an artist. Guess who’s getting distracted big time!
(ii) Ask yourself why you are an artist and what you are working towards? Goals as an artist are focussed and are different and contrary to a marketer.
(iii) Consider the buyers response? Self marketers/makers I believe set themselves up for identity concerns or confusion! Apart from that buyers have no 3rd party to discuss the artwork who may have some independence and/or can offer other points of view from a marketer. Most gallerists are not artists and can therefore speak frankly about art quality to an enquirer. The discussion a buyer will have with an artist will be completely different from a marketer and conflicts of interest become evident. What great artists or those with reputation have gone on to develop a serious art career without an agent and galleries support? Whilst people have tried I know there is often a credibility concern. This scenario is to be avoided. What might appear short term gain is defeated medium to long term and in fact could damage one’s career as a committed artist, perceived or actual.
(iv) Buyers from art marketers/makers are left hanging if they want to sell their artwork for whatever the reason at a later time. Why?… I know of no artist who buys back their art. But just as importantly because they have sold direct, there is no real market demand developed or presence. Also without an independent profile one’s art respect is often challenged. An art profile can be diminished when compared with their peers! No secondary sales market can develop and primary sales by the artist are not independently recorded or become a historical market documentation.
(v) Dealers and gallerist are not interested in these artists as they have no place to work with them. Galleries are the eyes and ears for many artists they represent and within art circles, self promoters are not on the radar as such!
So what does a good commercial art gallery do for you as an artist and how do you justify their commission rate?
They are the buffer between you and the public allowing you the luxury to work uninterrupted. Unnecessary distractions interfere with your art continuity, thereby effecting your output and quality concentration work time. An artist will find they will save time, money and sanity.
Art galleries deal with the public enquiries giving you piece of mind. They also gather information for you to consider and for artists to act upon in future and will nurture and develop sales opportunities. Afterall it is in their interest and yours to sell art. Their survival is yours. The maker and marketer are a couple. The better and more consistent their engagement usually results in all the advantages, providing continuity a status quo and mutual respect.
As to the nuts and bolts a good art gallery will provide the following:
(i) A market place for an artist, where people connect to see their art, they represent them 24/7. In effect they become the market’s representative for your art. They are in the place to obtain advice, promote knowledge and execute sales on your behalf.
(ii) They give promotion by way of market exposure, exhibition, wall display all in conjunction with social media exposure. This is a growth area and will need artists investment.
(iii) They are there to advise artists on their career and assist them to interpret the art market and how it can effect them individually.
(iv) They provide a professional exhibiting venue so your art is well displayed making it more of an attractive venue for buyers. They assist in all aspects of the preparation of the exhibit.
(v) They prepare your art, career and promotion such that it is viewed as an individual exhibit.
(vi) They sell art, manage commissions, carry out the business aspect of the art market on your behalf.
(vii) They represent you and give you a place in the market; and promote you whenever and wherever they come in contact with potential buyers.
(viii) Potential and established buyers are introduced and made aware of artist styles, reputation and potential etc.
(ix) Give advice on framing, presentation, pricing, one’s future, marketing and all manner of things.
(x) A market confidant, after all who and how else can they get market feedback dissected and poignant to them?
Yours in art,