I have been working to prepare for an art show for the past month. My local bakery at the corner has been hanging the work of a photographer for about a year. So in April, I asked if I could hang my work in their bakery. They said, “Yes!” They’re going to let me keep my work up for 3 months. The “show” opens September 15th.
So the advantage to hanging a show in an undedicated space is that, often, you can hang your work for free. You’ll still have to pay to present your work professionally, such as framing, and you have to hang the work yourself. But you’ll get 100% of the proceeds of your sales (make sure you report to the IRS!). And you can often dictate how long your work hangs, or at least hang it longer than the standard 3 weeks that a gallery would allow.
Ideally, I would like to be picked up and represented by a gallery because it looks good on my resume. But the reality of gallery representation for an undiscovered artist means that you pay to hang your work. You pay to frame your work, and the gallery will take a 60% commission of anything that you sell. It must be hard to support oneself as an artist, much less get rich – hence the term “starving artist.” If you’ve got no money, that can be an daunting task. However, what you get for your money is advertising. A gallery will send out a blitz of promotion for your work, reach a unique audience of people positioned with enough finances to actually buy art work, and help launch your career.Until then, a local venue will have to do for me. Who knows, someone in the art industry may venture by for a cookie one day and pick me up for a gallery exhibition.