Friday, September 7, 2007


This week I've been to a couple of galleries to continue my learning more about galleries.

I started off on Brunswick St at the Artholes Gallery.

I should start by saying that Artholes is a great space, and indeed there were some fine work on display. But to be honest, my experience with the gallery wasn't 100% positive.

Why? Because I didn't feel comfortable in it. For a few reasons:
  • There isn't any real sign to suggest that it is open to the public.
  • It was hard to tell if it was actually open (I went there at around 4 on Friday arvo). When I walked in, I didn't receive any welcome from the guy who was working there.
  • It wasn't apparent if the artwork was for sale or not.
  • There wasn't any information, either on the walls or on a leaflet, to describe any of the art on display.
  • There was no welcoming vibe at all. No lighting, no music, and I felt as if I was an intrusion for being there.
Now I can understand that some art galleries are more surreptitious than your regular retail store. But when you have a shop or gallery that makes it's money from the visitors, surely it makes sense to make them feel slightly welcome. Is that too much to ask?

I learnt from their site that they take a 40% on sales, with no upfront fee to artists that are exhibiting their work. 40% was higher than I expected, but I'm new to this game. Is a 40% commission rate average?

The art sold in Artholes' windows is on sale via silent auction. You can email or sms your bids through to buy the art on display. But I've just learnt this via their website - their wasn't anything to indicate this when you're actually in the gallery. Which is a shame.

From my perspective, this isn't the way a gallery should be run. If I were to open a gallery, I'd put a bigger emphasis on friendliness and customer service. I suspect that most people aren't completely comfortable when they are buying new art. Why make it more difficult for them than it needs to be?

Am I being too harsh here?


A Reason to Paint said...

No you are not being too harsh at all Ben. I've had exactly the same experience walking into some galleries. Sometimes the feeling is so unwelcoming, even intimidating that it makes me want to turn around and walk right out again. This is a loss for the represented artists 'cause I kind of like to purchase the occasional art work. Raises an important point for artists: when you start looking for a gallery to represent you, it might be wise to consider how welcoming they are to you as a potential customer first.

PS Great blog

Jason said...

You forgot to mention that the art is crap! ..

Commission is usually 40% .. some galleries charge still charge 1/3 or 33.33% .. and some I hear actually charge up to 45% (i.e., which is ok if they sell out your whole show before it opens (Andrew Browne sold out his whole exhibitions the week before the opening at Tolarno's)

With the case of no one greeting you .... that's just stupidity on the gallery part .. although my friend who works in a gallery sometimes say people don't wanna be approached (they get the wrong idea that they are in a gallery to view the art, and the better ones are not shops, which are only there to sell you stuff) and just go 'no no no im fine'.

Deanna said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I will definitely spend some time on yours as well. As far as gallery commissions go, in the US 50% is standard.