Vanity Galleries

Ah, Spring. The flowers are blooming, and the birds are chirping. You've been in the studio all winter, laboring away. Maybe you haven't landed as many gallery showings as you would have liked so far. You start to hear things -- things that are possibly too good to be true: "Want to show your work? Display here and your work will sell!" Sounds great, right? Please don't be deceived -- beware the Vanity Gallery!

Yup, they sound like what they are. But for those of you who don't know, a vanity gallery is an art gallery that charges the artist fees to exhibit their work. They make most of their money from the artists themselves, rather than from sales to the public.

Now, these are not the same thing as Artist-Run Initiatives (or Cooperative Galleries). Artist-Run Initiatives are collaborative efforts by artists who pool their resources to pay for exhibits and publicity.

Landing gallery showings is a multi-step process that requires patience, time, tenacity and persistence. Things may not happen as quickly as you'd like, and and the disproportion of artists to galleries have enabled this Vanity Gallery market to pop up. It has been able to sustain itself by taking advantage of this disproportion, and also perhaps by taking advantage of weary artists.

Remember that getting solo shows is very difficult to do. Always do your homework when researching a prospective showing space. Follow your gut! Utilize your network -- talk to other artists and ask questions. And if there are fees, ask and ask again about how the fee structure works, and what those fees are going to specifically.

Stay positive, and keep on creating work!