art galleries that charge high commission for little work [Archive] - Artist Forum

: art galleries that charge high commission for little work

11-14-2012, 12:30 AM
Wants to ask the question, why do art galleries need to take a big percentage (e.g. 30%) of someone's artwork sales on top of an artist paying the rental fee for a gallery? Now, this is only a question I'm posing to everyone for their opinions....... for me I feel it isn't right.....10% I would be ok with... but 30%, do many of you think this is too much, especially when you are asked to do all the work of setting up the exhibition including hanging your own works, bring your own tools, provide nibbles and drinks, promoting your exhibition, printing out your price list yourself, and of course ALL your own artwork yourself?

11-14-2012, 09:05 AM
You are showing in the wrong galleries if this is the case...I do not show in galleries because my work comes from all commissioned work, although a reputable gallery will take a higher percentage because they do all of the work driving the market to your work. If you are not getting any sales from this gallery or very little sales, it is time for you to get out...I would say get out anyways and find a reputable gallery. Sounds like you are just wasting money renting out a space and the establishment is not really trying to bring in clientele...heck why should they if they are receiving rent from the artists. I don't know what kind of art work you are producing but there is many more avenues to show your work...such as coffee shops, banking establishments, doctors office just to name a few. This is a great thread to be discussed further...

11-19-2012, 04:51 AM
In Portland, we have a downtown outdoor marketplace under one of the bridges called "Saturday Market". I've heard they take a huge commission on sales of vendors, something like 50%. And even some neighborhood markets have gotten on the bandwagon, commissions instead of a flat rate for a booth. One neighborhood where it used to be free for their once a month street side market is not free any more. It's called greed, and artists are certainly no exception from it. In fact, some of the greediest, thieving people I've seen are those who want to market or show your work for you. It's tough for us to market our work, and some people do not make it any easier.

11-19-2012, 04:59 AM
Charlene you are so very right, I have been in several shows that they charge a booth fee and take a commission on sales...good thing about what I do, I do not collect any money from my clients until their commissioned portrait are finished, so that leaves the show coordinator just with the booth fee that they have charged me.

11-20-2012, 06:50 AM
Charlene and George, thank you for your replies. I agree with you both 100%. I am very annoyed with the gallery for charging me that much for commission on top of hire of the gallery space. I am hoping to set up a forum some time in the next year and get artists all of us on board and fight the art industry to get some fair regulation rules put in to protect us from getting ripped off, as our artwork is OUR work not theirs!! Why should they take so much from us? Big fat greed out there! Got to end that. Let me know what you think of the idea of setting up a forum and petition to get the arts industry regulated?

And George, I agree, I need to get out. The exhibition is only for one month though, but I feel they have ripped me off. I'm doing watercolour works, see at my webpage on and I agree with showing in cafes, coffee shops, doctors etc, I am going to try those avenues in the new year. Thanks again for your advice. I agree this can be discussed heaps, lets get the ball rolling :)

11-20-2012, 08:44 AM
After reading this post I was very intrigued and started talking with some of my friends and they are running into the same problems. They are saying it is more of a co-op than gallery and are finding it more and more the trend. Also looking into this I found that a lot of traditional galleries do not like it when artists are in co-ops and will refuse their work into the gallery. I do not show in galleries so it does not effect me but the gallery owners are finding it much more lucrative to run as a co-op.

11-20-2012, 09:28 AM
Oooh.. co-ops.... how do I find one? How do I find out about them? I'm from Australia, so maybe it's not so common here? I'm intrigued though.... if I start one here..... I hope it'll blow off some the galleries rip off prices and greed.

11-20-2012, 11:44 AM
There are several avenues to look check around your area for any artists guilds and inquire about what they have to offer in the ways of joining their guild. The guilds may have a co-op in place already, if they don't have a co-op they may be able to point the way to one. The guild may want to think about a co-op within their guild.

Also, look into a Google search for your area and see if there are any co-ops that are in operations. If the Google search results in no information try talking with your local chamber commerce.

Starting from scratch could be a great idea, if you have enough artists interested, a place where you can set up the store and the initial funds.

Where I live there are large buildings that are called vendors mall, where they charge a monthly rent, do not take commission fees and handle all of the payments, taxes and most of them handle credit card purchases and you do not have to worry about insurance that is covered by them. I have worked these before and have found that they are really great for showing and selling your art, I will probably start back up again. The vendors mall I have worked with chargers a setup fee to get all of the paperwork and payment arrangements in order which cost $125 and then it is $100 a month, I get paid once a month and the booth fee is taken out of the sales from that month. I was able to go and treat it as a gallery setting and I talked with clients and done everything from the booth. I really like this style of presenting my work I do not have to be there all of the time or I am able to be there as often as I like.

So I would check into something like that where you live, if there are other artists interested you could split the monthly rent.

11-26-2012, 03:30 AM
I would imagine the mall idea works well if you're established. But if you're working a full time job, barely making it and trying to get your art going, and don't have money behind you to fund it, might as well be trying to get to the moon. I belive it shouldn't have to cost you a lot of money to try and make money., regardless of society being totally set up on capitalism and trickle down theories.

11-26-2012, 11:30 AM
I don't spend a lot of of money on marketing, actually the vendors mall was great when I worked it. I did not have to be there at all or I could be there whenever I wanted.

Most of my commissions come from word of mouth, probably 80%...the other 20% of cold call sales I do a lot of things that do not cost a lot.

I always make sure I am looking for new clients...that sounds dumb but wherever you are there is a potential new client and they may not even know they want a piece of artwork. For example...I was at the store picking up some groceries and making my rounds to the electronics and fishing equipment, when I overheard two women talking about what to get for the husband for his birthday. I set my shopping cart aside and said what about a piece of artwork, a portrait? I took out two of my cards and two small bi-fold flyers and gave them to the two women. We had a small conversation and three days later I received the phone call. The first initial woman is one of my biggest and return clients I have and the second woman had commissioned two pieces from me.

Join an Artists Guild...This is a good option for a lot of reasons, the more people you know the better chances there will be a to meet new clients. They have shows and festivals you can participate in. This option does cost a bit of money and it takes up quite a bit of time but is well worth it in the long run.

Art shows...enter as many art shows that you can, the more your work is seen in the public eye the better

Take your work out to the public...I do this quite a bit when I have a bit of down time. I take a piece of work that I am working on and I set down in a public place and work on it, people will be curious and most often come and see what I am painting. I also have a couple of finished pieces with and show them as well. I hand out my card and bi-fold flyer...

Do the work...Mainly to have anything in life that you are passionate about you must set goals and strive to achieve them. Sacrifices and what is important, no excuses, work harder at your goals, set the goals and learn to follow them. There are no hand outs helping you, just hands out wanting from you.

Knowing your place in art...Not every artist will be famous and make a lot of money, not all artists will have even been known outside of their circle of people they know. Regardless of what you want out of your art, money, fame...not all artists will make it to where they want to be unless they try.

11-26-2012, 12:02 PM
all well said George. unfortunately for a lot of people time as well as money are rare commodities. living by yourself with just one modest income in the city is a tough life, and not easy to get past basic survival when you have a home to take care of too. Especially having a rough work schedule that includes nights and weekends. Basically, we don't all have the opportunities that it sounds like you've had, whether you made them or they were made available to you. I don't mean to sound harsh and I don't want to offend you, just telling you how it is for some of us. What works for one might not work at all for someone else.

11-26-2012, 12:53 PM
You clearly have no clue what I have gone through and still going through... I have not been given anything in life except the passion to succeed. I have failed more times than I have wanted but each time gives me the strength to get past whatever it is holding me back. I worked a job that kept me there for hours on end, never knew if I would get bumped from one shift to the next, worked long hours everyday, had to put up with poor management...

Even though I too have a home to take care of, nobody to help me, working 6 and 7 days straight 14 to 20 hour days, I still pushed my way through. In the year 2010 I left that job after 11 years in order to paint and pursue my artwork...I still have my home to take care of, bills to pay and all the while keeping afloat with my artwork. There has been many times I did not know what I was going to do about bills or gas, food...Like right now!!! I set here with $6 to my name and I am about four days out finishing several pieces, I am expecting a $185 from a commission that may find its way here by the end of the week.

To be harsh Charlene...just do what you are meant to do, no excuses...if it is only one piece by all means snap it, if it means you go without cleaning the house for a day or the wash go on a photo shoot. Charlene I like you and your photos are simply amazing, but hard work has never failed anybody even if what they were doing failed...but one of the things that everybody does the same and still fails 100% of the time is..not trying.

You are in one of the hardest fields there are in the art world...the cameras of today makes it that almost anybody with a camera can become a photographer. Don't ever give up your dream...reevaluate it at times and see the direction you are going and if you do not like it change it.

What do you want to be able to accomplish in the next year?
I recommend you looking into David Allen's works...Getting things done is a great book and has helped me out tremendously, your local library should have it.

For the final thoughts...this never happens over night, I have struggled through to get where I am today and has taken over twenty years to get here, two failed marriages, several close friends and father committing suicide, bankruptcy,manic depression and other health yeah not all of us go through and have the opportunities everyone else has.

11-26-2012, 01:31 PM
well I guess I"m not willing to give up things that are working for things that are just a dream. Or to wear myself to exhaustion to do it. Or live in a dirty house, and wear dirty clothes and look all unkept. if you think that's failing, then that's up to you.

11-26-2012, 07:20 PM
Never stop dreaming...just set a goal and strive toward it, you do not have to be agonized over your hobby that you want to be more. Set realistic goals and try to reach them, if you do not reach the goals you set at the time you set them for, reset and reevaluate what it is you are striving for. The only person you need to please is yourself and if you are not happy with the way things are going change what you are may take a life time to achieve. Complacency and just being satisfied does not sound like who you are...there are no easy ways around the work you have to put into yourself.

11-27-2012, 03:47 PM
oh no, never stop dreaming. But even dreams have an order of priority, and they all have to fall in behind real life needs and responsibilities and obligations.

11-28-2012, 04:20 PM
So with all of that said... the next question is what would you like to be able to accomplish realistically with your work? What steps can you do while maintaining your way of life and schedules? What equipment do you have and what will you need to further yourself to meet your goals? Are you able to set up a home studio and working environment just for your work? Have you checked into the artists guilds around you if there are any? Here are some that may be of interest!
Now some of the contests may have already taken place but it could give you an idea for up coming events, It took me eight years in a local art show to finally receive best of show, but what the eight years also done for me was to get my work seen and tare sheets from the newspaper with my work and name in it.

Have you thought about shooting still life photos? Actually I would be really interested in that, I am not a photographer but I do use others photos for my we may be able to come up with something to get you started and me something to paint.

What have you done to pursue your hobby to make it more than just a hobby?
How much time do you have per week that you can dedicate to your photography?
Have you taken any classes to enhance your profession that you seek?
Is there any small business seminars that you are able to attend? Most all the ones I have been to was free!

So there are many more questions that I could ask but little bits at a time...remember you can't have success overnight and every accomplishment is a step in the right direction and every failure is a learning experience.

11-28-2012, 05:00 PM
ok, slow down, too many questions and some may be a little more information than I want to give out.
I'll keep the links though and check them out when I have time.
Just one question George, you say you are interested in a photo to paint, what are you looking for?

11-28-2012, 06:18 PM
Anything worth painting. I already do about 160 to 180 portraits a year 80% of them commissions, 20 to 30 still life pieces and a hand full of landscapes. I am more interested in the still life pieces as of late and want to paint more of them. I like the chiaroscuro style piece, a lot of darks and lights, anything with glass is great, unique and off the wall combinations.

I really don't care if you answer the question to me directly, the questions are a starting place for you to answer for yourself in order to get some perspective of where you are in where you want to be and a map of how to get there.

It seems you have taken a defensive stand against our conversations and that is not the purpose of why I am here. I am here to help understand what it may take to get you where you need or want to be. Want to share what I have had to endure and many of the pitfalls that I stumbled into and how it helped me grow stronger.

The only real question you must answer is what holds you back...I already know the answer because I have been there. Fear! All of the tools and answers are there waiting for you to be taken, the opportunities you must seek out.

11-29-2012, 01:58 AM
no George, fear is not a problem to me. There is a lot about me you don't know and don't need to understand.
I think we should drop this discussion, it's getting too personal and not where I want to be.
My main purpose here is to display my photos, to see other people's work, and learn some of their techniques and styles.

11-29-2012, 02:51 AM
I checked out the Fine Arts Guild Portland website, it's for painters only. The photo contests are good ideas but they are all expired.