How do I start an art gallery?
An art gallery, despite usually being a small business, is a complex and trying one, due to a multitude of factors.
Here are some of the factors that you should analyze before getting involved in this beautiful and passionate trade.
Similar to any other venture, as a Gallery or Art Dealer you will need an appropriate team and support. It is essential that you create a team with both the knowledge of art and business. One without the other, is a natural recipe for disaster.
You will also need help in the following areas: marketing, accounting and finance, graphic design, public relations, etc. While you may be able to outsource some of these functions, it is essential to realize that as a start-up gallerist and art dealer, you need to be a generalist, willing to wear several hats.
Any new business, needs a business plan and an art venture is no exception. You should sit down and analyze the following aspects:
It is important to analyze what type of art you would be specializing in. Try to identify your team’s skills and market conditions before going forward. If there are ten galleries in your mid-sized city that specialize in photography, it may not be a good idea to do the same.
Initial capital requirements will vary on the size and nature of the gallery that you want to open.
However, the following costs should be included, in most major European, American or Asian cities:
- Rent and Deposit
- Inventory and Exhibitions
- Advertising and Marketing (includes, advertising, publication of catalogs and invitations, website, online advertising, etc.)
While initial costs may vary a great deal, we estimate that an average cost for starting a mid-sized gallery is between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000.
You should not expect the business to be profitable before Year 4 or Year 5.
Similar to any retail business, the gallery business is also about location, location and location. Once you have determined your product (speciality), you should study where the gallery should be located. Galleries should be located where your clients are, not your artists.
The gallery business focuses extensively on relationships – with collectors, artists, press, and other galleries. If you are not the most outgoing person, hire someone who is.
Prepare an extensive marketing plan, where you contemplate how you will launch and promote your new gallery. You will have to take into account the exhibitions, public relations, advertising, art fairs and all related promotional media.
Please do not expect your gallery to make you a rich person. As you probably know, there are no gallerists or art dealers amongst the Forbes Billionaires. Yes, a gallery can provide you with a satisfying and comfortable lifestyle, within 10 years of starting it, but the chances that you will become a millionaire are quite slim, so enjoy the process and the lifestyle it offers.
Further, please do remember that similar to other retail businesses, the art business is very trend oriented; hence, as risky as the apparel or restaurant business. Proceed with care and enjoy the process.