Have you been offered an exhibition? Great! Are you being asked for money? Be careful…
I have come across a number of artists who are very excited about offers of exhibitions abroad — even when the approaching gallery has asked for a decent sum of money for the privilege.
“How amazing, I’ve always wanted to have an exhibition in New York.”
“Showing in Tokyo would be amazing!”
Artists are regularly approached with such ‘opportunities’ after receiving some public exposure, be it a Degree Show, Open Studio or other platform.
Here’s useful insight: many of these offers are in reality money-making scams and don’t have your best interests at heart. They know full well that they are tapping into artists’ desires and better yet, egos. When you are ‘invited’ it touches you at a deep emotional level. So rather than being circumspect and stepping back to properly consider what is on offer, it’s natural to only see bright lights, big city — and says “yes”, shortly thereafter sending a wire transfer of precious funds.
“I’m going to be an internationally-exhibiting artist. My life’s dreams are at long last coming true!”
Whoops. Did you look at the terms? Have you taken references, including artists who have previously been involved? What is the history of the organisation and what else is available online that sings the event’s praises? Who will pay for the shipping — in both directions? (Remember that there is no guarantee of sales.) Will the gallery be covering insurance, and what is proof of this? How about commission — is more going to be taken from you again?
Furthermore, a key contributor to show success is your presence. Artists being in attendance to talk about their work and to develop rapport with potential patrons is known to make a world of difference for achieving show success. It is for this reason that artists most often succeed in galleries that are geographically accessible.
More often than not, artists do better for themselves by investing funds closer to home. This might be for a pop-up exhibition, artist fair, art prize submissions — and so forth. This will enable you to meet gallerists and other collaborators with whom you can develop relationships with a long-term view for mutual success. And if you do start working with galleries farther afield, focus on those that are interested in working with you on an ongoing basis, offering reasonable terms.
Although not all exhibition opportunities in which you will be approached are scams, it is imperative that you put on your business-decision-making hat and conduct proper research. When someone contacts you unsolicited and asks for money upfront, think twice before jumping onboard.
— — — — —
Originally published at www.besmartaboutart.com.