Amid the bottomless champagne flutes and infinite small talk, one may be quick to believe the art galleries’ somewhat stuffy reputation. But there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. Drawing hefty conclusions about art galleries and their owners – especially if they are based on misinformation – only keeps people from enjoying them thoroughly. Today, we’ll separate fact from fiction and clears up some of the most common misconceptions about art galleries.
Let’s take a look!
Many myths surround the art world and, specifically, art galleries. It’s essential to separate the true from the false.
MISCONCEPTION: ART GALLERY OWNERS LIVE LAVISH LIFESTYLES
The Art Industry is often alluring to outsiders because of what it appears to them to be. People tend to associate it with money, prestige, and glamour, but it is nowhere as glitzy as it seems.
Note that generalizing either of the two statements would be a huge misconception, so we will not attempt to do so. Still, we can freely say that the overwhelming majority of gallerists aren’t in it for the money. Instead, they are in this line of business for one reason – because they are passionate about art. And that’s what helps them navigate the booming art world and the competitive art market – passion and dedication.
Plus, nothing significant separates a gallerist from any other business owner. Just like them, gallerists have their fair share of ups and downs. But if we were to make it a bit more challenging, we could say galleries do not serve any necessity. Instead, they’re merely an item of luxury. Therefore, the owners rarely really have a 100% certain monetary benefit.
Some gallerists live a life of luxury; some do not. It would be a misconception to make any generalizations.
MISCONCEPTION: GALLERIES ARE LOADED WITH MONEY
Yet another common misconception relating to the seductive image of running an art gallery is that galleries make huge profits. If only that were true! But unfortunately, it is not. Many galleries, particularly the smaller ones, are barely getting by these days. Merely renting an exhibition space takes a large chunk of their profits. Now add to that the costs of marketing, production, shipping, and insurance, and you’ll understand why most would agree that the opposite is far more often the case.
MISCONCEPTION: GALLERY REPRESENTATION WILL MAKE ONE’S CAREER AS AN ARTIST
Not true. There is much more to becoming a successful and established artist than merely putting your art in the gallery. There is no such thing as an instant fix and overnight success. It happens gradually over time. And it takes a lot of dedication, hard work, consistency, and planning to make any headway in the art world. It is a series of peaks and valleys and trials and errors until one has reached a steady and successful track record of exhibitions, sales, and accomplishments.
Getting art gallery representation is not a way to jumpstart your career as an artist. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Therefore, getting gallery representation will not make one’s career as an artist, but it is one step forward in the long and arduous journey.
MISCONCEPTION: GETTING A GALLERY SHOW MEANS THE ARTIST IS AUTOMATICALLY GOING TO SELL A LOT OF THEIR WORK AND MAKE A LOT OF MONEY
Also, not true. There are no guarantees whatsoever that merely showing at a gallery means the artist will sell all the artwork and fetch a handsome amount of money. Gallery shows offer exposure, but it is up to the artists to make the most of it. So, work hard and spare no effort.
MISCONCEPTION: GALLERIES ONLY SHOW ‘SALABLE’ ART
Naturally, any seller would prefer items that sell easily. And galleries, too, want the art that they display to be top-notch, no doubt about that. However, galleries do not decide what pieces to show based on their salability alone. Far from it.
The art industry is an exceptionally unique world of exploration, discovery, innovation, learning, expression, inspiration, and creativity. Thus, galleries are a lot more than just cold selling machines. That is one of the most common misconceptions about art exhibits, whereas, for the most part, it is the passion that drives them. They love bringing new art and budding artists to the public eye all the time. What’s more, they have the utmost faith in the artists they show and sincerely believe that the work they create is worthy of showing – whether they ultimately end up selling or not.
MISCONCEPTION: ART SELLS ITSELF
One of the most common misconceptions about art galleries is that all gallerists do is sit around and wait for clients to pop in and buy the artwork. This is not the least bit true – no art sells itself. The opposite is far more often the case. Galleries must promote the show and bundle their forces with the artist to convince potential buyers that a piece is worth adding to their collections. A collector may like a work of art, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to buy it. There’s a difference between liking and purchasing. That difference is called selling. Gallerists spend all day, every day, bending over backward to make artwork sales.
A visitor liking a work of art is one thing. Them making a purchase is another.
MISCONCEPTION: ALL ARTISTS HAVE TO DO IS BRING IN THEIR ARTWORK
The opposite is not the least bit true, either. Galleries are not responsible for doing all the work while the artists kick back, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. Selling art is a full-time job, of course. However, active and ongoing participation from both parties is crucial for any thriving gallery/artist relationship. Only if they work side by side can everyone’s reputation benefit.
MISCONCEPTION: ART SHOWS ARE ONLY FOR WEALTHY PEOPLE
One of the most common myths about art galleries is that they are only meant for the rich. Sure, there are some exhibits out there that can be on the expensive side. But then again, many others are affordable or even free. One does not have to be a collector or rolling in it to be able to enjoy and appreciate fine art.
Countless other statements could easily find their way to our list of the most common misconceptions about art galleries. However, there’s only so much that we can cover. Hopefully, we’ve managed to debunk at least some of the falsehoods circling the art world.
Author’s Bio: Kendal Timms is an art lover, self-proclaimed bibliophile, mother of three wonderful children, and soon-to-be grandmother. As a retired art teacher and art collector, she has a remarkable talent for instilling art appreciation and encouraging open-mindedness and creativity, which is why she started writing creative articles about various art-related subjects, including practical how-to blog posts for moving companies like Zippy Shell Columbus.