9 Expert Techniques For Being A Successful Art Gallery

9 Expert Techniques For Being A Successful Art Gallery

Art galleries are much more than just spaces for the display of art. They are cultural hubs of creativity and serve numerous roles, both seen and unseen. One of the main roles of a gallery is to support and promote the work of its artists, helping them to remain creative while taking away a large part of the strain of selling their art.

It’s also important to remember, that an art gallery is a business, and as well as a deep-seated passion for art, and a creative interest in the artists they represent, gallery owners also need to understand the business world.

The main goal for any gallery is to stay in business, and this is mostly done by selling art. 

In this article, we look at some tips and techniques for a successful art gallery.

9 Expert Techniques For Being A Successful Art Gallery

You could be just starting out, waiting to get started, already established and doing ok, or struggling. Whatever the case may be with your gallery, these 9 expert techniques for being a successful art gallery will prove helpful even for those who are already doing well.

  1. Be different from the competition 
  2. Be passionate about the artists you represent
  3. Be known for creating networking opportunities
  4. Be focused and targeted with your marketing efforts
  5. Be an expert industry thought leader
  6. Be brave enough to take risks
  7. Be inclined to visit other art galleries
  8. Be willing to attend art fairs 
  9. Be known for your opening nights

1. Be different from the competition

Fitting into your industry whilst simultaneously standing out can seem like a daunting idea, but to be original and to be different can be quite easily achieved within a creative sector such as the art industry. Balance is key with this element.

A good place to start will be figuring out why customers should be choosing and preferring your gallery over your competition, what can you do differently that encourages people to buy from you instead of others.

There could be a number of reasons people choose your gallery to buy their artworks including:

  • The artists you represent and/or the artworks you stock
  • Your exceptional customer service and ability to put every visitor at ease and engage their attention
  • The level of promotion you do through exhibitions, opening nights, online presence, etc.

Gallery owners often share the same tendencies for creativity as the artists they represent and this opens up galleries as a place for experimentation and letting the imagination run wild into the open fields of creative prowess. Taking an experimental approach and being willing to try new things is a good solid way to be both different and original.

The art industry is dominated by free-thinkers with exuberant personalities and ideas. Thinking outside the box and being brave enough to take risks is a time-tested method of moving up the ladder in the art world.

2. Be passionate about the artists you represent

As the gallery representing a particular artist, it’s imperative that you’re passionate about each artist and fully invested in their work and their brand. This passion will show through with everything that you do as a gallery in relation to the artist including:

  • Promoting their artwork
  • Putting on exhibitions and shows
  • Writing exhibition and gallery text

When your passion is put into building the brand of your artists, others will see it, recognise it and it’s contagious, the excitement and importance that you put into an artists brand will be felt by others that come into contact with that artist or their work, through your gallery.

Passion also inspires hard work and commitment which is another thing that gets noticed by others and will become synonymous with your brand as a gallery dedicated to serving the art industry and the artists you represent.

3. Be known for creating networking opportunities

Going back to the point of an art gallery being a cultural hub, a great thing to have a reputation for is creating networking opportunities for people both involved and not directly involved with the art world.

When it comes to those that are in the art industry, this can be as simple as putting on exhibitions and new openings, inviting along all those on your gallery mailing lists as well as your artists and customers. 

With those not directly involved in the art world, there are a number of creative ways to create networking opportunities including:

  • Hosting events in your gallery space
  • Allowing community organisations to hold events in your space
  • Networking with other local art galleries to arrange events such as ‘art walks’

There are multiple routes to take to create networking opportunities both for your gallery and for visitors to your gallery. Being known as a place that brings people together will massively boost your overall brand image.

4. Be focused and targeted with your marketing efforts

Having a clearly defined marketing strategy is essential for the growth and success of your art gallery. This will help with both your online presence and in increasing footfall and physical visitors to your space.

Being online is no longer a matter of choice, if you wish to compete and do so effectively, you’ll need to have a website and be on social media as a minimum. Online presence is paramount.

With art being a predominantly visual experience, it makes perfect sense for your gallery to have a well-planned and executed social media strategy in place, and in order to impart all of the relevant and valuable information your brand has accumulated, a blogging strategy is also necessary.

Those two methods are the easiest way to start reaching your target audience and they can be used to great effect in harmony with each other.

Marketing your gallery is the key way to attract visitors, admirers and buyers and then nurture them towards becoming brand loyalists. Building an email list through your website is also an effective marketing tool that can be used to help with sales as well as visitors for exhibitions and opening nights that your gallery plans on hosting. 

An organic traffic strategy will prove extremely helpful in the long term and you can always use paid advertising as well for when you need more immediate traffic sources.

The most important thing to note when it comes to your marketing efforts is to make sure they’re focused and targeted and that everyone in your team is on the same page with a clearly defined strategy.

It’s also worth thinking of potential customers other than from footfall and targeting those too, this could be a more corporate clientele such as:

  • Professional interior designers
  • Businesses such as hotels and restaurants
  • Businesses that maintain art collections

Remember, an art gallery is as much a storefront as it is a place to display art and you’ll need to be building interest in your brand as well as building trust with your target audience and potential customers.

5. Be an expert industry thought leader

Becoming an expert in the art industry is essential for any gallerist, but it’s also shrewd to become known as an expert and thought leader.

By soaking up every piece of information you can find on art history, types of art, the individual artworks and artists in your gallery, you’ll be well set in the beginnings of thought leadership. Your next step can be to learn as much as possible about surrounding galleries and the artists, works and styles that they display.

By gaining a deeper knowledge of the artists, artworks and the market in general and also being able to crystallise and explain this in a way that’s understandable to your audience, your gallery will stand out.

Knowing how the art market works and any trends are also crucial to becoming an expert and being able to find the various ways to make your gallery stand out from the crowd.

By keeping your online presence in peak performance with regular content and blog posts, you can express this information and create content that offers high value to those that are visiting your physical gallery, as well as your online space.

Before too long, your gallery will stand out as a trustworthy source of relevant valuable information and engaging content and this will inspire brand loyalty. Your target audience will recognise your authority and knowledge, as well as your professionalism.

6. Be brave enough to take risks

A huge part of the process of any business is the ability and courage to take risks from time to time and art galleries are no different. 

There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from the mistakes of others and there’s also a lot of research that can be done to prepare you in many ways but there will still be times when taking risks is essential for growth.

This bravery also comes into play if your gallery is running at a loss, it can take a lot of courage to ride the fluctuations of the art market and stay focused.

Being bold enough to take risks at times will give your gallery access to more opportunities, knowledge and understanding than doing nothing and staying within your comfort zone. Every great success story had an element of risk in its beginnings.

7. Be inclined to visit other art galleries

As a gallery owner, staff member or anyone with an involvement in the art world, it’s an obligation to visit other art galleries and owning or working in one is certainly not a reason not to do so.

There’s a lot to be gained from doing so, you can see first-hand how your competition operates, and take into account the things that are working or not working for them. You can also gain a lot of inspiration when it comes to exhibition ideas, displays and so on. 

It’s always important to bear the first tip in mind though and be different, but it’s still good to be inspired by others.

This is also an important step to be taken in terms of networking and connecting with others within your industry, by getting to know other gallerists you can build long-lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial.

8. Be willing to attend art fairs

Art fairs are an incredibly useful networking tool for galleries to use to great effect. Art fairs can give gallery owners access to collectors that may have never heard of them before or have no awareness of the artists and works they deal in.

As well as connecting gallerists to collectors, these fairs also encourage new relationships to be formed between galleries and artists.

Successfully navigating art fairs does require some in-depth research and risk-taking, however, as they can be expensive places to secure a spot at and you’re not guaranteed to make a profit on the day. 

With all that in mind, the value of the networking opportunities is worth taking into account.

9. Be known for your opening nights

By building a reputation as being ‘the place to be’ when it comes to your opening nights, you will be set up for success in one of the most integral parts of running a successful art gallery.

Opening nights are one of the most important and effective sales drive models for an art gallery and they set the atmosphere and momentum for how the artworks displayed are going to be received by the community.

By working diligently and passionately when putting together art shows, exhibitions and opening nights you can ensure that every visitor attending feels welcomed, relaxed, looked after, inspired and engaged.

Make sure you have some food and drinks including cocktails and champagne available for your guests and present yourself as the perfect host. Overall this will encourage your visitors to stay longer, becoming more immersed in the art, more relaxed and also more likely to buy some art.

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