Business Overview

Art galleries provide local artists an opportunity to gain exposure and profit from their work. While the primary goal from a business standpoint is to make profit based on art sales and special events, providing a vibrant art scene can help create a more vibrant community. Customers for an art gallery's work typically include collectors, investors, decorators, and private companies.

Who is this business right for?

The best art gallery manager is an artist himself: someone who is aware of different modes and styles of art as well as its history and future trends. The manager should have a sense of individual style that the different works on display help accentuate, which helps the business stand out from its competition. Running a gallery means having a somewhat flexible schedule, but sales can be contingent on a willingness to deliver and display artwork to prospective buyers' homes, and often on short notice.

What happens during a typical day at an art gallery?

Some of the day-to-day activities of running an art gallery include greeting and speaking with customers, handling and displaying artwork, and dealing with a variety of administrative tasks that can range from managing a database of contacts to creating unique advertisements and updating your website and social media pages. It's also important to deal with framers, manage your inventory, and always be planning for your next major event. Most importantly, you must take care of your artists, which can include finding additional opportunities for existing artists while also researching and reaching out to new artists.

What is the target market?

Of the four primary types of art buyers, the most preferred client is typically the art collector. These clients often have the most time to explore an art gallery and the most dispensable income with which to make purchases. They are also likeliest to enjoy discussing the finer points of different art and different artists. By contrast, art investors purchase many works of art, but they are more interested in buying art for low prices and selling it for a much higher return.

How does an art gallery make money?

The primary way that an art gallery makes money is by taking a percentage of artwork sales throughout the year. This percentage is negotiated with the artist but is typically no less than fifty percent. Additional revenue may be gained by throwing different events throughout the year or even renting the gallery space out as a special venue for other businesses.

What is the growth potential for an art gallery?

One quality of running an art gallery is that the job doesn't really change as the business scales up. That is, a really popular art gallery may eventually lead to expanding via larger buildings and better venues, and may spawn multiple galleries in different areas. Ultimately, though, the nature of the job still involves negotiating with artists, marketing to clients, and seeking higher profits, with the added complexity of hiring additional employees and managers to work under you.