Running a gallery means there are always things to do. Between responding to comments, postings, and messages, coordinating show lists, meeting with vendors, answering phone calls and emails, taking care of your staff, and gathering supplies, there’s never a lull or break from activity.
Running a successful art gallery requires time management skills. And while most people have easy access to time, you will not. So, how can you make sure that everything gets done?
The best way is by establishing deadlines. Set hard and important due dates, and stick to them! This article contains some tips for creating those deadlines and sticking to them.
Disclaimer: These articles are intended to give you some basic ideas about running a business, not be all-inclusive nor substitute for professional help and guidance. Therefore, we cannot take responsibility for what you choose to do with these materials.
Running a gallery is a lot of work — it takes hours every day. If this sounds like you, try doing it without as much pressure as possible. It may feel weird at first, but being more relaxed about your business will allow it to run more smoothly.
Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to create your own set of rules that keep you organized and on track.
Prepare your paintings
After you decide what kind of gallery setting is best for your painting, make sure to prepare it properly. If you are showing at an art museum, then pack up your artwork carefully so that it does not get damaged.
If you are exhibiting at a private or professional collection, be sure to dress appropriately and keep the conversation lighthearted and fun.
For both types of exhibitions, people will be coming into close range with your work, so use common sense when deciding how exposed your piece should be.
Some styles of galleries do not allow visitors to touch the works, which can be frustrating for some.
Decide where you will hold your exhibition
Before deciding how to exhibit your paintings, you must decide where you will do so! This article’s aim is to tell you all of the different ways that you can show off your work, but first make sure that you have enough space to house it.
You should always consider the size of your painting when determining the length of time that it will take to hang it. If your painting is very large then you may want to look into having it framed or even hanging canvas strips as opposed to a frame. This way you get some exposed texture which many people enjoy.
When thinking about displaying your artwork, think outside the box! There are several different ways to display a piece such as photoshopped pictures, digital art, and even just sticking it up on the wall with thumb tacks.
Find a suitable gallery
Finding a good art gallery is like finding a good restaurant- you need to know what kind of cuisine they offer, how their food tastes, and if it was worth the money!
The same goes for galleries. You will have to make sure that you feel comfortable with the space and people inside. Make sure your visit is open ended so you can leave at any time!
You should also look into the organization’s reputation when looking to spend money on things. Some organizations are known for having high prices due to them not offering discount tickets or entry fees.
Keep an eye out for potential red flags as well. For example, if the staff doesn’t seem very friendly or professional then chances are there won’t be many returns on investment.
Approach the gallery owner
A lot of artists start their painting journey by doing art reviews or artist studies, which are great ways to get inspiration and tips from other people’s paintings! But what if you don’t have any artistic skills?
That is totally fine! There are many online resources available for anyone to study, experiment with and create new artwork. All you need to do is look up some tutorials or spend time experimenting with your own style!
By studying how different artists use paint, brushes and materials, you will be able to imitate these tools and create your own unique styles. Some easy things to practice include using different brush shapes, mixing colors, and adding textures (such as dry leaves).
Artists are always looking into newer material and techniques so there may be opportunities at an exhibition that feature something you’ve studied before.
Get a contract
Before you begin exhibiting your paintings, you will need to get a contract that clearly states how much money you will be paid and for what length of time. You can do this through an art dealer or your local museum.
From there, you will want to find a space where you are allowed to exhibit your work! This could be at a gallery, along side galleries, or even outside depending on the setting you desire.
Art fairs offer many different ways to show and promote your artwork so it is not limited to just having a wall display.
Get a security deposit
Before you begin looking for spaces, you will need to get a security deposit or warm-up space for your artwork. This way, you do not have to pay to place it somewhere empty!
Most art galleries require a security deposit of either $1,000 – $2,500 depending on how many pieces you are placing into inventory (more about that here). This is usually paid when you fill out an application as part of being considered for a gallery spot.
Some artists choose to be more budget friendly and only ask for a $100–$200 deposit. Do not worry too much about this though, most people do not go beyond this amount unless they are guaranteed their money back.
Have your paintings insured
It is very important that you have your art protected, especially if it has any value! This will ensure that your work does not get destroyed due to theft or damage.
Most people are aware of what insurance they need for their house, car, and other large items. But what about protecting all your creative materials?
Artists often spend lots of money on painting supplies and sculptures. These can be expensive, so making sure you have adequate protection is essential.
You should consider purchasing extended coverage policies for your artwork. There are several companies that offer this type of policy, so do some research and find one that fits you best.
These types of policies usually cover the following: physical loss, accidental damage, burglary or looting, malicious destruction, and more.
Make a plan for your exhibition
After you decide where you will be exhibiting, make a plan of action to get ready! This includes finalizing which galleries you want to visit, what supplies you need, and how you can organize these things.
It’s very common to have a lot of leftover materials from setting up your painting, so don’t forget to pack those away!
Some people organize their exhibitions during the spring or summer when there is less traffic at museums, but we recommend doing it during winter break because that way students won’t interfere with you.
Students usually take breaks around December–March, making this an ideal time frame if you are planning to do the same! If possible, try to hold your exhibition during one of these times so only students are visiting the museum.