7 Critical Questions to Ask Galleries Before Handing Over Your Art

Part of the process of selling your artwork is finding and working with galleries. When you’re ready to approach galleries you should have a good representation of your work. I would suggest at least three to five pieces.  When considering galleries it’s critically important to do your research. Look at their product line, will your work fit in with their venue? Are they a reputable business? In my early years I had a gallery that had several pieces of my work. A few months passed and I went to visit them, they were gone and had taken my work with them! I never heard from them again. This was a valuable lesson and I’m now very cautious where and with whom I place my paintings. If the gallery is reputable you should follow their protocol for submissions. If you’re inquiring in person always, always, call first. Don’t just drop by expecting them to love your work. They’re busy people and should be treated as such. When meeting the owner or manager in person dress professionally, bring your portfolio and possibly a few originals.  Don’t oversell, let your work stand for itself.  

When you’re accepted into a gallery and before you release your work, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Will they be buying the work or are the sales on commission?  
    • If commission what’s the percentage?  
  • Do they have a contract?  
  • Are they requesting an exclusive in their area?  
  • How long is your commitment?  
  • How often do they expect you to change out your work?  
  • How will they promote you?  
  • Will they be scheduling any private shows?  

Once these questions have been answered to your satisfaction, congratulations! It’s time to submit your work!  Never release it until the gallery has given you a copy of the images they are holding with the date, name of piece, size, commission and/or receipt of sale.  If the gallery is selling the work on commission, it may vary from 30-60%.  How long are you willing to give them to sell it?  This is aside from their commitment.  You’re not there to decorate their walls but to move art.  If a gallery hasn’t sold any of the work within a 3-6 month period I would advise you take your work elsewhere.  There are many great galleries, but that doesn’t mean they’ll benefit you.  It’s important to stay in-touch with your galleries.  Don’t be afraid to call them periodically to check in, it is YOUR artwork after all!

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