The importance of gallery representation

By DANIAL FUAD

As an artist, surviving on your own is difficult as you have limited resources. In order to go further, you should seek a gallery representation. Galleries have a vast set of resources that can help you advance in your career as an artist.
When is the right time for you to seek gallery representation? According to Lim Wei-ling, founder and director of the eponymous Wei-Ling Galleries, you should seek representation when you have a strong body of work. Gallerists would need to understand your artistic practice before they decide if you are a good fit with their gallery’s direction. So it is important to showcase multiple series of work that you have done to show your range and repertoire. It is also vital for you to have a strong artist statement in order for a gallery to have confidence in your practice.

Provenance

A record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality is what is called “provenance”. By having gallery representation, there will always be provenance with your work as a gallery always has a record of who purchases works from them. Your credibility as an artist is strengthened as you can keep track of all your artworks that have been sold.

Support and development

Galleries have various resources that they can tap into to help any artist they represent. Lim states that a good gallery would always support the artist in whichever direction they want to go. This in turn would benefit the gallery as well. One of the ways in which a gallery supports its artists is to raise their profiles by taking them to international Art Fairs, Biennales etc. It is difficult to get into these kinds of programmes as individuals; the organisers usually source for artists via galleries.

Archiving and Documentation

Documentation is another vital practice for any artist. When you have gallery representation, there would automatically be documentation of all the exhibitions that you have participated in, even if it is a mention in a catalogue. Many galleries even go so far as to help artists to publish their own book talking about their artistic journey. This is important not just for the artists, but also for the gallery as it needs to have a record of artists that it represents.

Stability and prices control

Any artist will tell you that it is always challenging when it comes to putting a price on their work as there are multiple criteria that need to be taken into account. Gallerists are experienced in this area and would be able to help you determine what to price your artwork.

Apart from this, if you are representing yourself it may be difficult for you to keep your prices stable as they may fluctuate according to your own bank account! You may also need to conduct sales from your own studio and this may affect the pricing of your art. If you have gallery representation, however, it would be much easier to control your prices and keep them stable. Galleries are also able to provide funding for you to stay afloat (if you have worked long enough with them).

Marketing woes

If you have gallery representation, it will also be easier for you to focus on creating art. You can leave all the marketing duties to the gallery. You can leave the job of making all the right connections and understanding the market trends to the gallerist.

Having gallery representation should be a goal for any artist who wants to take their art to a more professional level. It can help you in many ways but you should bear in mind not to rush the process and accept the first offer you get from a gallery. You should first study the background of the gallery and previous artists that they have represented so that your art work resonates with what they do.

Aside from that, there are also people out there ready to take advantage of inexperienced artists so if you are asked to sign any contracts, do take time to study them properly and ask for advice from people in the know, in order to avoid being the victim of one-sided contracts or contracts that bully you into doing things that you do not want to do.

Interested to know more? Watch Lim Wei Ling of Wei Ling Gallery share her thoughts on art galleries and why they are important.

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