Art isn’t just for rich collectors — young people interact with contemporary art more and more thanks to the internet, and art galleries and spaces are hosting events, parties, vernissages that mix visual art and concerts or DJ sets, public interventions, and other events that attract attention and, of course, crowds. When your space starts generating word-of-mouth because of the strength and relevance of its programming and just how darn cool it is, you’ll find them lining up out the door.
The art market is as much about investment as it is about passion for good work, and it goes without saying that a large portion of the collectors and actors that put money into the market are interested in minimizing both risk and effort by investing in already-established names.
And while artists generally get famous thanks to their affiliations with high-end galleries, museums, and collections, their talents as well as public awareness of them are often incubated in the “lower” end of the market, by the smaller galleries and organizations that invest in emerging rather than established talent.
You can check out our articles on business structures available in the United States, the UK, and France to know more about each structure and how to go about registering your art gallery as a business in your region.
Before you start an art gallery, you’ll also need a solid business plan.
In 2015, the arts and culture sector contributed over 763.6 billion dollars to the United States economy and generated 4.2% of the country’s GDP, with earnings in the sector totaling over 370 billion (pull that one out the next time someone says there’s no money in art).
But the art world’s ecosystem is a complicated one — many small galleries struggle to establish themselves both with artists and the public, whose references remain the oldest and most well-established galleries (Marian Goodman), auction companies (Sotheby’s), and museums (Mo MA) and the artists they represent.Many galleries have also started investing in publishing (especially limited editions) as a means of generating revenue — from academic publications to catalogs, artist books, multiples, and more, publications are a great way to keep your price points varied, your offer diverse, and your gallery intellectually relevant: it ups your gallery’s credibility on the market as a generator of knowledge.By promoting yourself as a community fixture and a space that promotes creation of all kinds, your gallery will become a fixture on the scene.When you start an art gallery without hundreds of thousands (or millions) in startup capital, you need to find other ways to generate interest in your gallery’s offer.One of the most important of these elements when you start an art gallery will be your space.This is where your curatorial vision will come into play, and you’ll need to find clever ways to make your gallery’s offer interesting to people who may not necessarily engage with the art market on a regular basis.Many galleries have begun using pop-up schemes and, of course, participating in art fairs is an important way to get exposure.Have you always wanted to start an art gallery, but been unsure of how to break into the art market?Here, we’ve round up the essential elements to consider if you’ve decided to start an art gallery, and advice on how to make your venture a durable success.Promote interest by making your gallery impossible to miss — not only in terms of your visuals, but because you make a statement with your programming and generate buzz.While small galleries can’t capitalize upon housing the works of art celebrities, they possess the potential “cool,” or alternative factor that differentiates them from the stuffiness of museums or white-cube spaces, which are often intimidating to people who feel they “don’t know anything about art” and are put-off by the academism of the high-end art world.