Recently, I was invited to apply to show in a gallery. After some thought, I turned it down. Here’s why.
While showing my work at a local art festival, I was approached by a number of individuals connected to a gallery. They appreciated my work and suggested that I should consider showing my work at the gallery.
This is one of the greatest things an artist could hear!
One of the things mentioned in these discussions was the fact that my prices are very low and they advised that I should consider increasing my prices as the gallery takes a 40% commission.
Now, 40% is pretty steep. In fact, I’d describe it as positively vertical. But that wasn’t the reason why I eventually turned them down.
Initially, I struggled making a decision. On one hand, being in a gallery helps grow your audience and share your work with others who may not find your work otherwise. But the idea of increasing my prices to make it worth my while didn’t sit well with me.
Early this year, I wrote a series of sentences about my art, the process of making art and what my goals are. These sentences began with prompts I had read in a book about “finding your why.”
One prompt began “It is really important to me that my art is....”
Which I finished with “...affordable to people who want to own it.”
This exercise, that I completed months ago, has helped me at every crossroad I’ve faced.
I think the reason that affordability is so important to me is that prices in the art world seem crazy. A block of color on a canvas could sell for $5 or $5M depending on who painted it. It seems shallow. I want people to buy my work because they love it and continue to love it every day they see it without ever thinking “Wow, I really paid through the teeth for that!”
Anyway, when the gallery reached out to me again about my thoughts on showing my work, I explained my feelings and they completely understood.
Showing in a gallery is a great idea and has many upsides. But understanding what is important to you, writing them down and referring to them when you’re struggling to make a decision is vital to staying true to your mission as an artist.