How to Start an Art Gallery

Nothing says glamorous quite like an art gallery in your neighborhood. Who wouldn't want to visit a new exhibition, wining and dining with local artists and being one of the first to see new paintings and sculptures?

If you want to start your own gallery, you'll need these essentials in mind.

1. Work on your business plan.

When you set out to open an art gallery, it's vital that you know what kind of art you want to showcase and sell. Learn as much about art styles and artists as you can. Once you've mastered that, then you can move on to how you'll actually run your business.

A good gallery owner should have an idea of how much space they can afford, how many artists they'd be willing to showcase, what prices and expenses they'll need to set, and what their prospects for long-term growth will look like.

2. Design your art gallery.

Despite you may think, an art gallery is not just a white room with some paintings on the walls. Every gallery needs to balance out function and flair, to attract new artists and potential buyers.

Every piece you display in your gallery should have enough room to be examined and appreciated. There should be enough room for a hundred or more people to walk around, especially for when you host a new exhibition and want your guests to feel comfortable while they mingle with the artists. And don't forget that your gallery is going to most likely be converted from a common storefront. If you're in an area with high foot traffic, design the interior and exterior in a way that will attract curious passerby.

3. Make connections with the larger art world.

Many art galleries start out as a venture between the gallery owner and their circle of friends, with maybe one or two local artists. This setup, unfortunately, won't get you much in the way of business. For that, you'll need to reach out to established art collectors, other galleries, and art museums. Build relationships with other art organizations, both in your area and beyond.

4. Use your vision and core principles to recruit artists.

As you learn more about the art world, you'll hopefully carve out a niche for yourself. Your gallery should have a certain style or specialty that will attract artists of the same type. Learn about the kind of art genre and styles that you want to display inside your gallery and focus on recruiting those kinds of artists.

When speaking or negotiating with potential art contributors, be polite and listen to their concerns. Show your passion without being over-the-top. They want to know that you'll care about giving them the best exhibition rather than treating their work like products for you to sell.

5. Keep your pricing consistent.

If your gallery is going to make any money or retain its customers, your prices need to be fair and consistent. Dramatic changes in price say a lot more to your audience than you think. It could say to your customers that you're having financial troubles or that you're steering away anyone who isn't a high-paying and serious art collector. If there's one thing that can lead to the downfall of an art gallery, it's alienating its supporters.

Image by RAFTWET Jewell on Flickr

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