Just like taking the first steps with any new business, opening a gallery can be an incredibly daunting task, and there are a number of things to consider before getting started that can help you optimise your chances for success.
For instance, you’ll need a clear understanding of the art market and a strong business plan to know that it’s a feasible venture in the first place.
Even if you’ve already gathered some expert techniques for being a successful art gallery, it’s fraught with risks.
In this article, we pulled together some of the most important factors for consideration, starting off with the first question you should ask yourself and be able to answer in detail.
Why Open An Art Gallery?
There are quite possibly as many reasons for opening an art gallery as there are galleries, but the successful ones all hinge on a common undertone, and that’s passion.
The art industry is a unique world filled with opportunities for discovery, learning, exploration, innovation, conversation and more. It’s an unlimited pool of inspiration and collective forms of expression and creativity.
In order to successfully navigate the art world and the art market in particular, passion is a vital resource to have at your disposal and without it, you’re at risk of losing heart.
Having a passion for the arts will enable you to run a successful business that gives you a strong sense of enthusiastic joy every single day, adding a creatively innovative space into the world that showcases the works of your favourite artists.
The question you need to ask yourself, however, is why do you want to open an art gallery?
Things To Consider Before Opening An Art Gallery
As previously mentioned, there are a vast amount of factors to take into account and consider before opening an art gallery, for the sake of brevity and clarity, however, we have condensed some of the most important aspects to think about.
A crucial first step in your journey will be to research, study and learn everything you can about the art world.
You don’t need a doctorate in art history, but a general overall knowledge of the art world with a more refined expert knowledge of the specifics within your niche is essential.
You can deep-dive into more specialist areas, led by the niche that you mean to carve within the art market. If you want your gallery to specialise in Contemporary Pop Art, for instance, you’ll need an expert understanding of the subject, and its history.
This step is ongoing, as you’ll need to be extremely knowledgeable in any artist or artwork that you wish to exhibit and display in your gallery.
Buyers will feel comfortable and confident with a gallery owner that can describe and explain the artworks in their gallery in depth, highlighting the work’s significance, context and relevance.
Another vital area of importance is understanding the art market.
You’ll need to familiarise yourself with your local art market too, visiting local galleries and meeting with artists or other members of the local art community can prove valuable during your research phase.
The goal is to help you find the direction of your own art gallery, giving you a better sense of the scope and vision of your business and an idea of the size and options.
How many galleries are already operating locally and how well are they doing, can you replicate their success but do so in an original way, can you think of better ways to operate? Don’t fall into the trap of copying another gallery, you stand a greater chance of success by standing out as different, and carving a real niche in the market.
Nowadays, it’s also important to consider the online market as this will be another key area of operation, especially if you wish to have a successful business.
Learn as much as you can about the art market, its trends and fluctuations, and how to develop a good eye for scouting talented emerging artists that can massively boost the reputation of your gallery with their successes.
It’s always advantageous to have a clearly defined brand identity that has been planned, thought out and brought to life before you open your gallery.
You want your brand to be memorable and to engage your audience, building trust and credibility.
Whilst the visual assets are extremely important, a brand is much more than just a logo. People will want to know why your brand exists, its vision, how it aims to achieve that vision, what it stands for and how it differs from other art galleries.
Hand in hand with the previous consideration, you’ll need to research the art market in depth, analyse your competition and identify your target audience.
Location is paramount, you’ll want your gallery to be visible, approachable, and easily accessible with enough interior space to exhibit and display art collections. Galleries also tend to double up as event spaces for exhibitions, opening nights, parties and receptions so you’ll also need to bear this in mind when scouting your space.
A location that offers future potential for expansion might be a good choice, and also locating a space that already has a thriving or emerging art community can be a wise move.
You’ll need to consider the costs too and project this forward with a long-term point of view; rental/ownership costs, bills and maintenance costs and so on. It’s another area that requires a lot of thorough research and deliberation before settling on a decision.
Your interior design will need to fit the vision for your brand, the art you intend to display and the gallery itself. Minimal is an often taken approach so as not to take away from the art being exhibited, however, there are creative ways of decorating and designing a space that can look quirky and still not detract from the art on display.
Art needs to be the focal point of your gallery, but that doesn’t need to stand in the way of you designing a gallery that offers an experience to its visitors.
You’ll need enough space for your visitors to admire the artworks at a distance and you’ll also want an office for your administrative work and a storage area for the artworks not currently on display.
When remodelling and designing the interior of your gallery you can take full advantage of the space itself, any flaws and imperfections can be incorporated into the design and used for a unique effect.
Of equal importance to finding the right space, is finding the right art to display within it.
For the most part, choosing the art for your gallery will depend on your brand and what your niche will be, whether that’s a particular time period, art style, or something else.
It’s also wise to have a collection that aims at different budgets, you’ll want some pieces that are affordable but you’ll also want some higher-end pieces, especially if you intend on attracting the more serious collectors and investors.
When you do intend to buy art from an established artist’s collection, you’ll need to be absolutely certain that it’s authentic and from a trusted dealer, there are a lot of fake pieces on the market that claim to be made by famous artists.
When considering the costs and level of renown of the artists whose works you want to display, you also need to think about the manner of the display and how to ensure its care and protection.
The level of care and maintenance necessary for artworks largely depends on the individual pieces themselves and their age, condition, medium, etc.
As a gallery owner, you’ll need to learn and hone your skills in curatorial vision and approach every artwork through the eyes of a curator.
You need to think about the sale, how you’ll talk about each piece and describe them to your visitors, how you can fit artworks together into exhibitions and events, and how to build cohesive themes throughout your space with the artworks.
As a gallery owner, there’s a high chance you’re a creative person and you can put those tendencies to good use by experimenting with your curation techniques and igniting the imaginations of yourself and your visitors.
You’ll want to stand out as different from other galleries and find a unique way to operate in a market that is dominated by creative people with bold personalities and big ideas.
The networking aspect of being the owner of an art gallery is incredibly important and should not be overlooked at any point. The art market is still very much a face-to-face world that thrives on building close relationships and making connections.
There’s great value in building up a network of artists too, from little-known and emerging artists right through to established names in the industry.
Once you begin making connections you can invite artists to display their work, they will always prefer to display in a gallery that has a reputation for being successful and well known so being a new gallery can be a challenge in this regard.
You can reach out to a publishing house such as Zeno Fine Art for help in curating the perfect collection to fit your galleries needs, we are experts at connecting galleries to artists and have access to a variety of exclusive artworks from artists at every level.
Getting artists on board with your gallery and networking in the art community will boost your gallery’s reputation and get you on the path to success.
You’ll also benefit greatly from connecting with other local galleries in the community and perhaps working together for mutually beneficial endeavours such as art trails and gallery walks.
By integrating yourself fully into the art community, both locally and online, attending as many important events as you can and socialising with others, you’ll be setting your art gallery up for the best chances of success.
Now that you have in mind these things to consider before opening an art gallery, you can work out the varying aspects of each one and put together a plan of action that will help you have a clearer vision in mind before opening day suddenly arrives.
There’s a lot of research to be done, and once you’ve located the right space in the best possible location, all you need to do is find the art, curate it in line with your brand identity and continue building your network, establishing your place in the art market.
And as your knowledge grows and you further carve out your niche with a firm foothold, you will become more skilled at identifying promising artists and trends and capitalising on them before the competition.
How Can We Help?
Zeno Fine Art is a pioneering art publishing house, connecting galleries to artists and providing a quality worth collecting.
We lead the creation, production and management of a curated, hybrid collection of artworks, as well as supplying retailers such as art galleries and investment companies with artworks from emerging and established artists at a fixed, discounted wholesale price.
Our commitment is to building close, personal relationships with our affiliate partners, bridging the gap between your business and the acquisition of the perfectly curated collection for your inventory.
We are fine art suppliers of a range of limited-edition prints, original artworks from a hand-picked selection of emerging and established artists, along with an exciting variety of NFTs and sculptures, which will be announced in the coming months.
Our trade clients benefit directly from access to all of our stock at a fixed, discounted wholesale price with exclusive notifications and a dedicated, bespoke service providing support and guidance with selecting and curating the perfect collection to fit your gallery’s style and needs.