Let’s do some maths.
- Subtract 50 % - this should at least be the gallery’s percentage.
- Then check the artist’s CV – how many separate exhibitions a year? Multiply or divide by this number (for example: if just one every second year divide the number by two).
- Then just make up a probable cost per year for making art, having a studio, administration, framing and transportation etc – let’s say 6 000 € to calculate low – subtract this. Ok now we might have the artist’s profit.
- Then there are taxes. (The artist is not getting a salary which means more taxes than if you are employed). Lets say 50 % to calculate positively.
- What do we have left? Divide by 12. Is it possible to cover a months living costs with this money?
Total sale: 15 000 € (which I think is good) – 50% = 7 500 €
2 Exhibitions a year: 2 x 7 500 = 15 000 €
Minus Costs 6 000 = 9 000 €
Minus Taxes 50% = 4 500 €
which gives us 375 €/month (not even 550 USD)!
Alas If you haven’t made it to the top yet – or make very commercial art - you’re probably not making BIG money on your exhibitions. Exhibitions at galleries give credibility, build your CV, give you a focus and deadlines to work towards – and are a way to show your art to the world. (of course you want to sell your art – but you have to comfort yourself in some way, right? Make believe: you exhibit for other reasons…)
In 2007 I exhibited at Galleri Jeanette Öhlund in Borås. I got good reviews. The gallerist said she had unusually few visitors at my exhibition. I made a profit of 200 € on that exhibition. Later I sold many of the art pieces in other ways or at other exhibitions.
Artists sell their art in more ways than just at exhibitions. (Here I’m not talking about commissioned art, which is already sold in the moment of execution) I mean - what do you do with all that art you made because you want to make art … and that you didn’t sell at your exhibitions? (That is if you do not burn it all in pure disappointment)
- Provision sale in-between exhibitions
- Selling to “Workplace Art clubs” (Very common at workplaces in Sweden: Members pay a fee, art is bought and the members have the chance to win in annual lotteries. The art is bought through galleries, directly from artists in their studio, through art dealers coming to the workplaces etc) Sometimes they arrange workplace exhibitions and visit artist studios for technique demonstrations.
- Independent Workplace exhibitions (not by art clubs)
- Direct Studio sales to individuals
The question will be how much energy you are willing to invest into these different ways of selling your art. Does your art fit to be sold in these ways? Will it have any other positive side effects but money? Will you risk losing credibility?
I’ve tried it all… some more, some less…
- Join me next Sunday for some dos and don’ts when trying to sell your art outside exhibitions
[This is yet a post in my Sunday Series: Art as Business. To find the other posts have a look at the sidebar]