Will Galleries Care if I Do This?

Hey there,

Today, I want to tackle a topic that's on many artists' minds: does selling art on platforms like Etsy, social media, or a personal website affect one's art career advancement in the eyes of "industry approved" galleries? It's a question that's sparked a lot of discussion, and I think it's worth diving into.

First, I want to disclaim here that I am not an expert in this topic. I am an artist, but I don’t have any work in galleries. This is what I’ve learned from my research talking with others.

Jason Horejs, Xanadu gallery owner in Arizona, says that "it depends." Horejs believes that while some gallery owners might worry about artists selling merchandise alongside their fine art, in practice, it's often not as big of a deal as we might think. He points out that serious art collectors are usually more interested in original pieces and aren't deterred by the availability of prints or other merchandise.

In fact, branching out into merchandise avenues can actually help boost both the artist's and gallery's visibility and attract a wider audience. By offering prints or other products featuring your art, you're giving more people the chance to connect with your work.

Of course, it's important to approach this strategically. Keeping your brand consistent across all platforms is key. You need to think about how selling merchandise fits into your overall artistic goals and the image you want to project.

Now, some artists, like Boulder artist Jack Shure, manage separate Instagram accounts for their fine art and merchandise, to avoid any potential conflicts galleries might have. At a presentation by Shure for the Boulder Art Association (January 2024), Shure said that he does believe galleries take issue with artists selling lower-priced merchandise outside of their galleries.

While keeping separate IG accounts and audiences might work for some, not everyone has the time or resources to do this. In an ever-changing and more expensive world where galleries take up to 50% or more of every sale, it's also important for artists to think about diverse income streams to make a living. Remember that everyone's journey in the art world is different; you need to make yours align with your goals.

Ultimately, it's about finding a balance that works for you. If you're considering selling your art through personal channels or merchandise avenues and also want to be featured in "industry approved" galleries, take some time to talk with those galleries. Ask them what their philosophy is on this topic. Don't forget to keep the lines of communication open with the galleries you dream of working with. If concerns come up, you can better negotiate to find common ground and weight the pros and cons for your own art goals.

At the end of the day, it is all about your art and your goals. If you're interested in having your work in galleries, choose galleries that share the same values as you and support you as an artist, whatever and however selling art means to you.

If you are interested in selling your art online, I've put together a free guide that walks you through every step you need for making your first online art sale, from naming your business to choosing a web platform and advertising your shop. You can get it by filling in the form below.


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