An art gallery is a business that promotes visual artists and their artwork. It works tirelessly and strategically to advance their careers within the professional art world both locally and globally. This involves a variety of supporting activities including but not limited to: curating exhibitions, organizing opening events, negotiating sales and purchases, art fair participation, providing insurance, publishing monographs, or even researching historical context for an artist’s work.
While most people know that the art gallery earns money through the sale of an artwork, not many understand how it actually makes its profit. In addition to a percentage of the qualified sales of an artwork, galleries also earn income through merchandise, sponsorships, lectures and more. In fact, the most lucrative way to make money in an art gallery is by selling merchandise to patrons, a practice that is becoming increasingly popular among contemporary artists.
To get a grasp of how an art gallery operates, it is important to first be familiar with the different types. The most common type is a traditional art gallery that sells paintings and sculptures. Other types of art galleries include specialized galleries that focus on certain categories or genres like photography, video art and mixed media art. There are also non-profit art galleries that seek to serve the community through various programs and exhibitions.
In order to generate income, an art gallery will usually have a staff of full-time and part-time employees that handle all the operational duties. These employees may include the director, administrative assistant, curators and gallery attendants. The gallery directors and curators are in charge of sourcing new clients, managing existing relationships, curating exhibitions and organizing opening events for their artists. They also play an important role in promoting their artists’ work through their networks of collectors, museums, and art institutions both local and global.
Whether a gallery is a traditional or nonprofit, it is important to remember that collaboration is the key to success. Most galleries will not consider signing an artist without a clear understanding of what is expected from them in terms of time, effort and commitment. Most importantly, an agreement on the retail price of the work.
For most artists, having an exhibition in a prominent art gallery is the ultimate goal. Depending on the gallery, this can be a solo exhibition or an exhibition consisting of two or more artists. Regardless, the gallery will take care of all logistical details including transportation, insurance, supervision, installation, print work and the opening event, which is often referred to as a vernissage.
Gallery openings are a great opportunity to meet other art enthusiasts and discuss the latest exhibition. They are a wonderful place to start building a network and begin learning about the different aspects of running an art gallery. Aside from the networking opportunities, attending gallery openings can help an aspiring artist refine their body of work. As a result, it is a great idea to visit as many openings as possible, especially those of your favorite art gallery.