Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vanity Galleries vs. Competition Mills

Vanity galleries are businesses that require artists to pay to show. That's how they make their money, not by selling art. Gallery mills have lots and lots of calls for artists, for which they charge a submission fee. That's how they make their money. In general, it is not a good deal for an artist to bother with either sort of business, because sales will be few to non-existent and knowledgeable collectors normally don't frequent such places.

Some competition mills and vanity galleries disguise themselves as co-ops or membership galleries, but the goal is always the same: to provide an income for the owner primarily or exclusively through payments from artists rather than from commissions on sales to collectors.

It is often instructive to read the "About" page on its website. If there is talk of services for artists or opportunities for artists, the business sees artists, not art buyers as its primary customers,. For example, a gallery on Long Island City, 50 miles from Manhattan, says showing with them will: "provide an opportunity for artists to become an active member of the arts community of New York City, whether they are showing for the first time or the artist has years of exhibition experience." Notice how vague and squishy this really is. What is really being offered to the careful reader?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this article and warning artists against falling prey to Vanity Galleries. Your points are so true! I also add if artists suspect a gallery is not quite legit to google its name and the word problem. And artists discussion groups are good sources of information. I have been writing and speaking on this subject for decades... including an article "Vanity Galleries, Pay to Play at Your Own Risk" at I will add a link to to this blog on our website. Thanks again for all the good work you do for artists!