Last night, Wednesday the 21st March 2018, I went to a talk by Gallerist Mary Elliot from Twenty Twenty Gallery in Much Wenlock. She explained the pro’s and con’s of getting involved with a gallery. It was basic stuff that any artist knows already. Things I had tried, to no avail. During the course of the talk I came to the conclusion that the gallery system was not for me. I show a lot at RBSA of course, it’s close by and it’s a helpful community of artists. I apply for opens, they give you exposure and the hope of winning the big prizes leading to the fame and sales you really want.
But being represented by a gallery is a different thing, the first downside is the travelling, each gallery that you get represented by needs to be at least 50 miles from the next one and she recommended that an artist with my sort of prices has 15 galleries. That would take you the length and breath of the country. I don’t like driving to Birmingham and back so the idea of driving up and down the country to possibly get rejected by a gallery and at best make a couple of hundred pounds seems a nightmare.
My second problem with the gallery system is the pricing. In the talk she explained how much commission the gallery takes from your selling price and the need for prices to be consistent, I understand that but I do think the downside of this for the ability for the gallery to keep the prices high. Artists aren’t going to complain about this obviously, but I think the conspiracy to keep prices of art high and only affordable by the rich is a disservice to the working man and woman whose disposable income might get them a night out if they are lucky. I often get accused of not charging enough for my work and this isn’t due to concern for me. It’s because if you shatter the illusion that art is expensive you brake down a wall that they may not be able to build again.
I’m not saying that all artists overprice their work, some artists do genuinely take a long time to make their work. The problem might be that there is no recognised hourly wage for an artist so some will charge £2 an hour and others will charge £1000.
Another point that was made is the ever growing online sales, apparently now the internet accounts for more sales than those made in shops over the counter in the UK. Web sales are the future. In 10 years time we might be doing everything with our phone, and money might only be digital. Given that can an artist be just as successful purely pursuing online sales as they can being in a gallery?
When I woke up this morning having decided not to pursue galleries anymore and not to look down on myself for not having one I felt a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I am free to have my whole career online and the only traveling I have to do is to the post office.