Art Galleries

Art Galleries

The purpose of an Art Gallery Today

Art Galleries can be found not just in cities but also in tourist spots up and down the UK. Although in much smaller numbers than a few years ago as a result of the economic downturn.

I have become very particular about who I show my art with. I am very clear on the purpose of the gallery. If it doesn’t meet with what I need, then I go elsewhere. Artwork galleries and gallery owners are like everything else in life. You come across good ones and bad ones. I, for one think that the nature of buying and selling art has changed. No-one seems to have told several of the art galleries who are still operating.

Artwork Galleries Purpose

I see the purpose of an art gallery as quite simple. To exhibit and sell artwork. In doing so, they should be there to help art buyers and people interested in art. A good gallery owner will know all about the artwork that they carry. They will be able to discuss this with people who come to their gallery to view the artwork. In essence, they are a bridge between the artist and the artwork. I believe that this is a great service and a good gallery owner and their staff can add hugely to the enjoyment for people purchasing an original artwork.

Art as a Product

Art galleries that I would suggest should give up the ghost are overly money orientated. Many are not interested in artwork or artists. That might sound ridiculous but I have now come across several art galleries who seem to exist simply because it seemed a “nice” thing to be a gallery owner.

Artists and students also ask me about this sometimes and one huge signal that you are in a gallery you should avoid is when an owner or employee refers to artwork as “product”! If I ever hear a gallery owner refer to my art as “product” then I know they are not for me.

Art galleries are there to provide a service and for that service they take between 40% to 60% of the purchase price. A good gallery can increase not only the price for an artist’s’ work over time. They can also help develop interest and understanding in an artist and their work.

Pop-Up Galleries

Pop-up art galleries have emerged in recent years. These are organised with varying degrees of success. My experience of the best has been varied artwork, a great atmosphere and a good attendance. On the negative side, it has been of people who know nothing about art but are good at securing a hotel room for a cheap fee and think that is all that is required. Another thing I have noticed in recent years is organisers of such events cajoling artists to hand over their customer databases. Or to bring as many of their existing customers as they can. Is the idea not that the artist produces the work and it is the art galleries job to provide the venue and attract the viewers?

Online Galleries

I am also now very clear on the way online galleries operate. Anyone can start one, and they do it with increasing frequency. Using the badge of charity is also something which the recession has increased. Charity is a positive thing but when an artist and the charity are making little from sales whilst the art galleries are making large profits then something is not right.

There are good art galleries out there. Ones who don’t talk about your artwork matching your cushions. Neither will they try to sell you overpriced plastic frames. These are the galleries I will work with. I have had enough of the other kind.

A great place to see artwork is in an artists studio. Many artists now, including myself, welcome visitors to their studios. The photograph above is of my studio, ready to welcome visitors. This was for the WASPS Studios Open Weekend in 2013.

The above YouTube video was taken just before the doors opened for Open Studios 2013 and features weaver Emma Jo Webster. Plus a peek into my studio.

A selection of Joe Hendry Artwork Galleries

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Scottish Themed Artwork Gallery

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Various Art Gallery

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Landscape Artgallery

2 Replies to “Art Galleries”

  1. Sympathise 100% with your sentiments about some art galleries (let’s use lower case to distinguish them from the majority) because it frustrates us as a Gallery – just as much as you the artist – to feel that potential customers for artwork (or simply visitors who call in to a gallery to browse) may be turned off by an impersonal or insensitive experience. If I had to prioritise your purpose list, it would be to place helping art buyers and people interested in art ahead of sell artwork. Why? Buying artwork is a hugely emotional, often irrational, decision. Every purchaser was a first-time buyer once and most still need to be reassured that the cultural value in an artwork closes the gap between the raw material cost and the ticket price. Artwork is not a commodity. When did you last form an emotional bond and empathise with the person who assembled your pop-up toaster?
    The creative pipeline depends on art buyers at the outfall and it is that element – building up a loyal following of repeat purchasers and connecting them with artists – that distinguishes a Gallery from a gallery.

  2. Thanks for your comment Iain.

    I agree with much of what you say and I guess that was part of my point, not all galleries are created equal. As the marketing of art has changed with the changing world I believe there has been a shift in some respect away from galleries but people will always want to see expensive pieces in the flesh.

    I still believe that there will always be a place for “good” galleries and I love yourpop-up toaster analogy!



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