Selling Your Art in a Gallery? What to Look For and What to Avoid!

Hello my art friends,

Today I want to talk about working with galleries, specifically what you should be looking for when you’re applying to galleries or approaching galleries to represent your work. I currently have work in three different galleries, all of which I have great relationships with and enjoy being in for different reasons.

All right. So, you’ve decided you’d like to start a relationship with a gallery. But now what? There are thousands of galleries out there. How do you determine which ones to approach or apply to?

The first thing you need to do is take a good look at your art and what you have to offer. What is your subject matter? what size do you paint in? What price do you sell at? You really want to understand where you fit in the marketplace. Then, do a little research online. Where do your favorite artists have representation? What are the popular galleries in your area or across the country? There are pluses and minuses to selling work in galleries far from your physical location, so don’t let distance be the only factor you weigh.

You will start to see that there are basically four types of galleries.

At the top tier, you have galleries that represent A-list established artists whose paintings sell for tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars. These galleries always feel intimidating to me, but that’s fine because I know my work doesn’t belong there. I just move right along.

The next tier of gallery is a commercial gallery that represents emerging artists or established artists who sell at a lower price point. This is my ideal market and probably yours as well. When you discover these galleries you want to dive a little deeper and look at these three things:

  1. The type of art they represent. Is it a good match for yours? If the gallery is in Arizona and focuses on Western art and you paint bright abstracts, that’s clearly not a good fit. But sometimes it’s not going to be that obvious. You need to ask yourself if the person who likes the existing art at that particular gallery would also like your art.
  2. Take a look at the prices of the art represented. How far off is it from yours? If it’s really far off that can mean one of two things: either that gallery is not for you or your work is underpriced.
  3. Make sure you admire the work of the other artists represented. Would you be excited to work with this gallery and have your paintings hang among the other artists they represent? If yes, then this might be a really good fit for you and you should look into submitting your work.

You will of course want to do some more research into the gallery’s reputation, but at this point, getting a good feeling after asking yourself those questions would be enough for me to at least submit my work or have an initial conversation.

So back to the types of galleries you might encounter.

The next one is a community gallery. In my experience these are great to belong to if you are a hobby artist. Working with a community gallery will give you a low pressure way to show your work and really get involved with the local art community. Typically you will have to pay a small membership fee and commit to helping at the gallery a certain number of hours each month. But as far as making regular sales at a community gallery, that has not been the experience my artist friends have had.

And lastly, the one type of gallery I suggest you avoid is commonly called a vanity gallery, and you’ll know it when you see it because you will be required to pay the gallery a substantial amount of money to show your work there, or even to submit your work to an open call. If you think about it, in a legitimate gallery the only way for the gallery to make money is if they sell the artist’s work. They are highly motivated to promote and sell your work, and it's a win for you and the gallery both.

But in a vanity gallery, the gallery makes money from the artist. There is little to no incentive for the gallerist to sell the artist’s work. These galleries also don’t have a loyal clientele like a traditional gallery because they are less discerning in the quality of the art they show. They simply don’t have the trust of their potential audience. I know that when you’re just getting started and want to get your work in a gallery more than anything, it might seem like a good idea to start with one of these vanity galleries. But I promise that it won’t be worth your time or money.

And that’s it my friend. If you’re wondering if maybe you want to sell your art yourself instead of relying on a gallery, then what you really need to do is start growing your audience, and I have a great pdf download to help you do just that. Download it here.

I hope you found this information helpful! Until next time.

All my best,


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