Have you ever wanted to break into the New York City art world and become an established mainstream professional artist? Have you ever really given much thought to how the mainstream gallery system works, how it is set up?
I’ve lived in NYC for almost a decade. I’ve been represented by galleries in Soho and in the elite Chelsea Art District, both in Manhattan. During that time I’ve learned quite a bit about how galleries operate and choose their artists. In this article and in articles to come, I am going to reveal my most cherished secrets about the elusive world of the arts.
The first thing that you need to understand, and maybe most importantly, is that the galleries are broken down into a hierarchy. There are basically 3 tiers or levels of galleries. They are:
1) Emerging or newly established galleries
These are the galleries that have been in operation for 5 years or less. They are easier to approach and become affiliated with, but may not be well-connected in the art world as a whole. They may not have many important clients or collectors or may not be getting reviews in the major art magazines. They may go out of business quickly, as many galleries try to compete.
2) Mid-level galleries
These galleries have been in operation for 6 to 10 years. They are have a proven track record and are harder to approach for the beginning artist.
3) Well-established galleries
These galleries have been in business for 10 years or longer. They are well established in the art community and are well-connected. They will have many art critic affiliations from the major publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Art in America, and many others. Artists represented by these galleries can expect to have reviews for their exhibitions by art critics from the major art publications mentioned above. One gallery that is a clear example of this category is Gallery Henoch in the Chelsea Art District.
So how does an artist navigate through this maze of information and use it to their advantage?
If you are just starting out in your art career, your main goal should be just to casually meet gallery owners and gallery directors who show the kind of work that you produce. Please see my previous article Top 3 Ways to Meet NYC Art Dealers.
In my next article I am going to give you a step-by-step plan that will help lead you through this gallery maze.