The official site for the Detroit Art & Business Institute and Andrea Rosenfeld, professional artist and business consultant to the creative community in metro Detroit and beyond.

Ask a Creative Business Advisor: How Much Commission Do Galleries Deserve?

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 1.37.54 PMAsk a Creative Business Advisor: How Much Commission Do Galleries Deserve?

Recently I spoke at an art business event in Detroit and this important and often-asked question came up:

What gallery commission is typical and why do some take 50%? It’s my work and I don’t want to give up that much money from a sale.

This is how I responded:

Very important question and one that I’m asked over and over again. Yes, it’s your work and you put your soul into it but once it’s handed over, the Commercial Art Buyers are responsible for an array of things like; constant communication with collectors, curating, hanging and removing the exhibits; commercial project managers and designers; tracking and managing payments; promotion; training their employees to support the artists and sales; insurance and so forth. Galleries must earn their commission percentage.  A gallery that merely puts art on the wall and waits for someone to walk in or doesn’t learn about the Artists and their artwork to offer educated insights to buyers shouldn’t charge a high commission rate.

How Artists Can Navigate Tax Season

Commissions range from 70/30 (Artists benefit most) to 50/50 and in every single instance it’s up to the Artist to determine if the commission break down is worth it. The Artist should be doing their research BEFORE applying to the exhibit or accepting representation. You must review their contract, speak to others who’ve sold through the gallery about their experiences and find out EXACTLY what the gallery is going to do to earn their commission %.

And on the flip side an Artist has to earn their percentage, too. It’s not enough just to be “The Artist” with the fabulous piece to sell because there’s an abundance of fabulous pieces to sell. You also have to be a good business partner to the gallery, interior designer, retail buyer and sales rep or they won’t work with you again. They, too have certain parameters they take into account when deciding what creatives to work with and who to show to their collectors.

Ready to make more money with your art? I invite you to join the hundreds of Artists who’ve moved their business forward with Mind Your Art Business education. I developed this very affordable accelerator for SERIOUS artists who want to end their frustration and increase sales. My deep-dive but easy-to-understand course covers every aspect of your art business and is available, 24/7 for ONLY $30/class!

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~Andrea Rosenfeld
Creative Business Advisor
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Your Thoughts? What has been your experience with Gallery commissions? What makes them worth the fees they charge? Share in the comment section below.

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  1. Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m lucky to have art galleries want to show and share my work. However, if the commission is 50/50 I feel I’m forced to price higher. I also need to feel that the gallery is more than likely to sell the work.
    The local galleries where I live are very hard-pressed to sell anything to justify a 50/50 split. Even 70/30 is questionable.
    I usually have to drive an hour or more to get to those good galleries, and then it’s a tough sell because I’m not from that area.
    I would love to find a home for my work just like most creatives, but demographically there’s not a lot to justify the gallery fees.
    I put my work in a few places for display purposes. I would love for them to sell, but I know they won’t… but at least they’ll get seen, and discussed.

  2. Posted April 5, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Hello Errick – thank you for reading and commenting! A few thoughts: You should always cost your art for a 50/50 split. If you sell through a 70/30 gallery and get more $$$, great! If you don’t feel that a gallery works hard enough for their split, ask them what they DO for their commission… It may enlighten you. I’m sorry you feel that your work won’t sell where it’s being displayed. If you truly feel that way, then it’s the wrong place for your work. It can be “okay” to hang your work “just anywhere”, once-in-a-while to get it out of your studio but at the same time you should be researching good-fit places where your work has a much better chance of being seen by your ideal client.

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