“I remember quite a lot of points you made up on the artists marketing salon. However I have a question that I don’t think got covered. I have been selling art now for 5 years but still have not had a show at a ‘big’ gallery or any gallery with international visibility. Does that devalue the work (not the selling value but overall value). By this I mean do you consider one to one sales and commissions to count in light of the career of a given artist.
I only say this because every gallery I have approached have basically said they are not open for submissions (ie the submission process has been closed off).
But the question of the overall value of my work lingers because I have created just over 1600 works including 250 paintings. Your insight would interest me greatly (only if you have time). Best, Luke”.
The above is a comment I received from fellow artist and friend Luke Gilliam. I decided the most beneficial way to respond to Luke’s comment/question, was for me to create this discussion and respond herein, thus perhaps benefiting other group members in the process.
Ok, so in my opinion (and remember this is only my personal opinion), the answer is no! Personally, I do not think that lack of any major gallery or gallery with international visibility is going to devalue the overall worth of the work. The fact that Luke discriminates between monetary value and overall value is an important distinction, as commercially, lack of exposure will certainly hold back the value of work in monetary terms.
Now here we hit upon the usual issues of what does the individual artist seek from his endeavours. We have artists that are motivated by wanting to be internationally known, have works exhibited extensively, held in both private and public collections and reap all of the commercial (i.e. monetary benefits) that all of the aforementioned can potentially bring. Alternatively, we have other artists whose prime motivation is to create, have no real interest as to if and where their work is shown, and commercial gains are of no relevance/interest whatsoever. In both of the aforementioned circumstances, one could argue that the overall worth of the work remains unaffected as to a large degree, “overall value” is subjective (not so with commercial value, as this is primarily bench-marked by secondary market sales).
Thus, perhaps my first question to Luke must be “which artist are you, the former or the latter”? I mention this, because Luke goes on to talk of gallery submissions. Now private art galleries are undoubtedly only interested in the former, because they are commercial businesses and stay in business by selling artist’s work. If the artist is not motivated commercially, it is unlikely that the gallery will be motivated to work with him/her. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
Essentially, what I am saying, is if you want to secure representation with a gallery, first and foremost you will need to sell them yourself, followed closely by your work. Chose carefully the galleries you approach, because your work will need to be a “fit”. If you have strong work, are commercially minded and can demonstrate such, galleries will almost always be open to submissions (often even when they indicate they are not). Of course, you will also need to build your status as an artist, try to secure international recognition (you don’t need to exhibit physically to do this, there are numerous other methods), or at the very least national recognition. You must be credible, as must your work, but above all, you need to be commercial and attractive to collectors. This for sure will draw the attention of the galleries. Now if we’re talking of public institutions (Museums and the like), that could be another story and perhaps another discussion.
Lastly, just out of curiosity, I did a Google search for “Luke Gilliam”, which turned-up a couple of Ning based websites (including b-uncut), and an image search likewise. No personal website that I could see, no business listings (at least not on the first two pages). Ning sites, Facebook, MySpace and the like are all well and good, but your’ll need more than this to build your commercial credibility as an artist.
I hope this helps and if nothing else, at least gives you some food for thought!