Is a gallery show worth it?

Why do artists want to show in galleries?

It costs a great deal of money to make art, then show it, with no guarantee that it will sell.

To do it right, as a fine art photographer, I need to invest at least $150 for each artwork. Let’s say on average you’ll show 20 images in a show. Ok, so I need $3,000 up front to even show my work.

What?!

I don’t have that kind of money. And, with no guarantee that I will even cover my costs, I can’t afford to take the risk. It sucks to say that about my art. Art is where I feel most free. It’s where possibilities are endless. You can do anything. But, you kind of can’t.

So, do I save my money up, apply to tons of galleries, cross my finger that I even get into one, spend my hard earned money to get a nice collection together, hang it, cross my fingers again that it sells, then do it all over again? Is that how this game works?

I don’t want to do that.

I just want to make art.

I know Mick, you can’t always get what you want.

Ok, fine. Then maybe I don’t need a gallery to show my work. Maybe I’ll just show it in cyberspace.

a street photographer gets caught photographing a couple kissing

So, why do I want to show my work in a physical gallery space?

1. Seeing work in person is SO MUCH BETTER. A computer screen just isn’t the same as a print.

2. I want you to see the whole thing all at once. It’s more powerful to stand in a room with a collection surrounding you then click through a slideshow.

3. It validates my work. I see under represented artists every day making beautiful work. I know not all of them will get the recognition they deserve. And, I know it doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. But, having a solo show or gallery representation does still count in the art world.

4. It’s what’s always been done. This is not a good reason, it’s just here as a reminder that this is one of the main nagging reasons I want my work in a gallery. It’s just what you do as an artist. It’s what you are told, what you think, makes you an artist. And, frankly, it’s not true.

Do you really need a gallery space?

What do I want to accomplish as an artist? I want to make art and I want to show it to people and I want to talk with them about it. I want to contribute to the conversation about life. Do I need a gallery to do that? Can’t I find a way to do that here or through other online sources?

I know I will miss the object that is the print, the frame, the gallery wall. I will always miss that. There’s nothing that can replace that. It’s like a book. It’s like a newspaper or a magazine. I miss those. But, I don’t read them anymore. I get them all online. And so do most other people.

I miss the darkroom. I will always miss the darkroom. But, I’ll never go back. And that’s ok.

I still want to show in a gallery. But, for the sake of my wallet, it may just be one framed photographed at a time. Here’s to you group shows!

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