View Full Version : Gallery representation question...

06-03-2010, 01:18 PM
Hi All!

It's been awhile since I've been on WetCanvas, miss you all! Been busy buying a house and moving, not a lot of time for painting in the last month.

I have received an email from a downtown Seattle gallery/cooperative that says they love my work and want to represent me. Here's the thing - I read over the stuff and looks like I'd have to pay between $58-108 per month depending on where my art is displayed, as well as attend monthly meetings, be on a committee, and gallery sit seven days per year. I haven't asked and don't know if they would take a commission as well.

It's a really lovely and professional looking gallery and is right in the art district. They are on part of a "Scene in Seattle" art tour that actively promotes artists to tourists, patrons, etc.

I've never been represented by a gallery before, just have my own little gallery/studio in a big artist bldg downtown.

Is this a ripoff? I didn't think I'd have to pay to be represented. Any advice welcome!


06-03-2010, 01:37 PM
The key to your question is you state they are a cooperative. In this case, no it does not sound out of line. I suspect they will also want a commission on anything sold

06-03-2010, 01:53 PM
If you haven't already, Kim, ask this question in the Art Business forum too, there are ppl there who've been in co-ops.


Deborah Secor
06-03-2010, 06:33 PM
Kim, it's reasonable to ask them for references to artists who show in the gallery. Naturally they'll refer you to active, happy participants, but it's always good to check.

Ask the artists you contact about what kind of work sells better (landscape, still life, abstract), what size sells best (in the 8x10" image size, 11x14" framed range, or larger), and what the average sale price is at the gallery. Most co-ops will share this kind information with their artists, so don't hesitate to as. I'd also ask how long they've been in business, and who does the business management. Even a co-op needs someone in charge! I'd also check with the BBB...

Personally I find co-ops to be time consuming, but it really depends on the group. I know artists who have been involved for years and are very happy with the arrangement. However, a straight commission gallery will often charge 50% on your sales, so I wouldn't pay more than that in fees and time. (Your time is worth money!) It could be an introduction to the market, if you need that.


06-03-2010, 09:00 PM
A local co-op here in a historical town near the city/transportation charges $140/mo, requires two days a WEEK, and has people bring in regular business-related supplies, so I figure all kinds of additional costs could be passed along. They do not, however, charge a commission. Although they've been in business probably a decade or more, I suspect this isn't working any longer, b/c they have several openings and have had for a while. I was recently solicited by them about it and I had inquired almost two years ago! Yup, you guessed it. They never called me back at the time. I have a friend who was there almost a year and never sold a thing.

As far as location in the gallery goes, they have 10' stretches of wall and each month when they meet (required attendance) they move people's art down a segment. There were good locations and bad, but they all cycled through them.

Your opportunity is a good bit cheaper and has fewer obligations, too. I would inquire about turn overs, # of current openings, additional responsibilities, handling disagreements, etc. Perhaps they sought you out b/c your reputation precedes you, but perhaps they're in a bind, instead, and they found you through your current location/building. I'd love to think the former for me, but it's the latter!

I also have a question. Does being a member of a co-op equate to gallery representation? I'd put gallery representation above a co-op in image and a gallery would not have the 'work for show' element or anything to pay into. Or perhaps the co-op used the term/idea of gallery representation as a hook? Would love a clarification from the peanut gallery.

CM Neidhofer
06-03-2010, 10:58 PM
I attempted to join a co-op gallery in Colorado a few months back. It was a juried process and I did not have to pay for any membership. I was not selected, but turned down with some very good encouragement and advice. Only requirement was manning the gallery one day a month. They had a small group of regulars and there was a 30% commission on anything sold. They've been there for over 25 years.

pastel lover
06-04-2010, 01:13 AM
Hi Kim,

I am in a co-operative gallery & have been for 9 years. I am also in a regular representational gallery in another town. I am very happy with both arrangements, but I have sold more in the co-op gallery. Of course, I should mention that I am a co-founder the art association that hosts the co-op gallery as well as the current president so I may be a little prejudice. Anyway, in our co-op gallery the artists must be a member of the art association, pay $10.00 per month hanging fee plus 10% commission on sales (this pays the rent on gallery) and sit the gallery 8 hrs. per mo. I'm sure you'll agree these fees are very minimal but we are in the central part of the country & in a town of only 12,000 people. However, before the economy got so bad we averaged selling 8-10 paintings per mo. I hope these comparisions will help you in your decision. Just a personal opinion but being in a coastal area with an actual "art scene" that is being promoted - your proposition sounds pretty fair to me. Best of luck.


06-04-2010, 01:05 PM
i was in a co-op gallery in a very small town in AZ. We paid a monthly fee of $25.00 and they took at first 10% commission but as the rent went up the commission went up to 15%. My paintings didn't well well. The first time I was there i sold maybe three paintings in about 6 months. but I also sold cards with images of my paintings and those sold very well. It seemed the smaller less pricey things sold. this gallery had many different things in it from mesquite furniture, and carvings to photography, folk art and some paintings. I was the only watercolor artist there at that time. And my paintings were mostly 16x20 when framed. I had them at very reasonable prices but it was a very small town off the beaten track so there just were not a lot of higher end sales. Plus at the time i painted mainly florals and all watercolors. If i had painted landscapes especially SW landscapes I think I would have had better luck.

We also had to work 2x a month. my hubby usually worked for me as most of the time I was too sick to do it.

From what you are telling us, the offer for you sounds pretty good. i would certainly ask the questions that others have mentioned, but otherwise to me it sounds like a good opportunity.


06-04-2010, 02:41 PM
Thanks all for the great information/advice!! I'm going to do some more homework on this.