As an artist I have fallen into the romance of the gallery trap. The image of the opening night has an allure-the collectors, the glitter, the glass of wine in the hand as everyone falls in love with my work and just can’t wait to buy. It is easy to kid yourself that this is the ultimate way to “make it big.” I remember once seeing a photo of sculptor/painter Eva Hesse, one of my favorite artists ever, dressed up so glamorously in black dress and pearls on one of her opening nights. For some reason that photo became a symbol for me of success. She lived in a time when galleries had a different impact. She sadly died well before the age of the internet in her early 30’s of a brain tumor.
Times have certainly changed since her death in 1970. When Eva was alive galleries were the only way for an artist to sell work and gain recognition. I have two art careers-one before the internet and one after, and in between those two careers I had no art career at all. Having to work outside of my art in order to survive, art fell off to the side. It wasn’t until I turned 60 that art re-emerged into my life, and now at 62 as a collage artist, I am thoroughly involved in my art again.
My second art career happened pre-COVID. I fell into the gallery submission trap. While I had some success at having my work shown, it was nothing compared to the rejections. I pour my guts into my work, and then having a judge tell me it wasn’t good enough to show was the ultimate kick in the stomach. And in the end I sold nothing and wasted money on submission and shipping fees.
And then COVID came and galleries cancelled their shows, showed them to sparse crowds or had them online. It was becoming clear that there had to be another way for artists to go, one where we weren’t so dependent on others selling our work. Before COVID I had a Saatchi art website mainly to direct galleries to my work. I never really expected to sell anything on that platform. I had a Shopify store for my pottery, but I didn’t want to use it for my art. Enter Art Storefronts, an amazing platform totally designed for photographers and artists. Just as important is their detailed marketing plan to help you get leads and followers, essential to any online selling endeavor. I am just at the beginning of selling on Art Storefronts. I am in desperate need of more customers, more leads. Yet it is now all in my hands and I am dependent only on myself, which is scary and exhilarating at the same time.
So where do galleries stand for me in the future. As I write this I honestly have no idea. Is that image of Eva too seared in my brain to write them off for good? Or at some point will they be a potential revenue stream among my other endeavors? Right now I consider them my competition. COVID has definitely removed them from my radar. Right now this is life during wartime.
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