Re: Pay to show in galleries? When to make that choice if at all....

From: PhotoSpace Gallery ^lt;>
Date: 02/06/04-09:59:06 AM Z
Message-id: <001001c3ecca$26875c60$91c3ba89@Office>


I thought I'd weigh in on this topic since I own a photographic gallery that
operates by renting out wall space for group shows. Our space started a few
years ago as a place for myself and my two partners to show our own work.
We found a serious lack of options for showing in my city, especially for
new photographers that weren't established. After a few shows and some hard
work getting a good mailing list together, we started getting approached by
other photographers wanting to show their work.

Our solution was to charge for the space (in order to make our rent
payments) and then produce the show including all promotion, invitations
(database now contains approx. 1500 names), food & other opening reception
costs. We DO NOT take commission on any work sold, and view our rental fee
as commission up front. We also allow our photographers to promote
themselves by displaying business cards and portfolios along with their
display. Any one that sees their work can contact the photographer directly
to enquire about other images, etc., and visit their website. I think we've
allowed some photographers to get into the gallery scene that might not have
otherwise had the opportunity, and then use our show as a stepping stone to
other opportunities.

Our openings are very well attended with about 200-250 people coming out for
opening night. Sales vary depending on many things, but many of our artists
have done well and sold at least enough to cover the cost of the rental fee.
Some photographers have sold their entire show and have participated in
three or four shows with our gallery. Others have been approached by stores
wanting to carry their work and one of our photographers received a
commission for 250 - 11x14" prints for a corporate Christmas gift for
employees. We've also created a catalogue of images for the design industry
and have sold prints through that (for which we take commission). Our next
goal is to get a website up & running, but again, we'll need the rental fees
to pay for that as well. And it will be clearly indicated on our website
that we charge for showing, I promise!

I realize that no comparison can be made between my city and the galleries
of New York, but I'm sure this is the only way for many galleries to start
operating. We provide a service, and that service costs money, we can't
guarantee sales, but we do guarantee that many people will see your work.
Incidentally, we don't accept anyone and everyone's work, we still have a
jury process and there are many that are denied. We are however,
approachable and genuinely interested in seeing images from anyone.

Here's my final point, would I like to get rid of this rental fee and just
take commission? You bet, but I'd also like to stay open. Not just for
myself to participate in gallery showings, but also because we are finally
establishing a photographic presence here in Calgary. Without the rental
fee, we would have certainly had to close our doors by now. It's a hard
business operating a gallery, and I'm sure many don't stay open for more
than a year. We don't make a dime of profit, all proceeds go directly
towards rent and the cost of the show. Our prices range from $250 - $475
per wall for a six week showing which we feel is a reasonable cost. $2400
sounds incredibly steep to me, and I would bet that those galleries are
making a tidy profit on the inexperience of others.

Claudia Lorenz

----- Original Message -----
From: "Christopher Lovenguth" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2004 9:56 PM
Subject: Pay to show in galleries? When to make that choice if at all....

> Hi all, I've come to a point that I'm now trying to progress to the next
> stage on the opportunities I have had of showing my work and I'm wondering
> if "vanity galleries" are the new reality for emerging artists in New York
> City. To make matters worse I've been investigating this and found this
> article: . I know it was
> written a while back but I'm running in to this phenomenon. I've been
> researching and finding galleries to send slides to and seem to get
> responses from galleries that end up being pay to show without any
> indication on their website about this.
> But more important then this to me is that I'm starting to wonder if this
> the new reality of getting first shows, specifically in New York. One
> gallery even buttered me up with a positive critique that seemed to ring
> true about my work until I realized that anyone would want to hear it and
> figured it a generic reply. They then offered me a place in an up coming
> show in early fall, but in the details I realized it would cost me $2400
> (basic representation fee) for the four week show.
> I'm early in to the process of trying to get shown in New York, so I don't
> feel desperate enough to try this, but I can see a breaking point
> months/years down the road where someone might be convinced this is the
> way to "break in" to the NYC gallery game.
> Have any of you experienced this or known people to decide on this
> It just seems too smarmy to me, for people to be feeding off a group that
> tend to need reinforcement and acceptance for what they do (and tend to
> barely be making it monetarily as well). But then again, from what I read
> that article, I can sort of understand since galleries are not cheap to
> and new artist tend to not sell well (and mostly not at all).
> I don't want this to turn in to the "evil gallery empire" sort of debate
> please. Either you wish to play the game or you don't. Right now I'm
> choosing to give it a spin. When it comes down to it, it has nothing to do
> with making work or art/life pursuits and I realize that. But deep down
> inside most of us, we do believe our work should be up in the Whitney ;)
> -Chris
Received on Fri Feb 6 09:59:21 2004

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