Man! It is NOT easy to go through the process of applying for a show at a gallery! First of all, you have to find a gallery that might simpatico with your work. That involves surfing the internet for hours, googling "female nudes", "figurative art galleries", "figurative art" then searching to try to get a feel for which gallery might be at your level of expertise/professionalism, who might like your work, who might be willing to show it. Then you have to look at their guidelines for exhibition and dot every i and cross every t so that you're sure you're sending all the right info. The one I applied to today needed the following itmes in order to consider my application:
Power Point presentation of my work with titles and orientation (of the pieces, not of the models)
List of works with sizes and medium
Self addressed stamped envelope to return materials
A check for $15
I spent 5 hours preparing the materials. It cost about $20 with postage and materials. I will hear in approximately 16 weeks whether or not they are considering my work for display. There will be 100's of people applying to this gallery for 8-10 exhibition slots.
Today I also considered applying to another gallery which has beautiful space to show in. It's a co-op gallery with a wonderful set-up. The director was encouraging. Then I looked at their stipulations. I would have to apply to show my work (i.e. go through the process described above), then, if accepted, pay $300 to rent the gallery for a month, plus $70 to print and mail postcards for the gallery plus whatever I would mail out on my own, plus provide food and paper products for the opening (another $100+). That's $500 just to show my work. Then they take 1/3 of the sales. I don't begrudge them any of that - after all, they have to pay their rent and keep up their space and advertise everything they do. It's just that it's terribly expensive to do a show. Remember, I also have to make my canvases at about $70/pop - they'd be at least twice that if I didn't make them myself - and, oh yeah, I also paint them! So if I were to sell a piece for $1200, the gallery would take $400 of it, plus the $500 to have the show, plus $70 to make the canvas. I would end up making $230 on a piece that would take me probably 20 hours to paint. I guess $10/hour isn't all that awful a wage, but somehow/some time I'm ready for my years of experience and education to pay a bit better than that! I could also include the 30+ hours it would take to prepare for the show - applying for it, checking out the space, hanging the show (10 hours or so), being at the opening, taking down the show, storing the un-bought paintings. If I were to do that, though, I might break down and weep and decide to give away my paintings rather than even try to sell them! It's crazy!
Now perhaps you can understand why paintings might seem to be expensive. They actually cost a tremendous amount to produce and market, not to mention the immeasurable skill and love and insight which go into making each and every one. I don't know why artists continue to produce art, given all that it takes to get it out there into the world. There must be something incredibly compelling about creating! I know I can't get through a week without painting without being impossible to live with.
Any ideas about how to do it better???!!!