Are you aspiring to open an art gallery?
Art gallery owner shares free, life-changing & time-saving trade secrets to becoming expert owners & artprenuers.
Opening an art gallery is like starting a family. The timing may never be perfect and financial limitations can be intimidating. However, like all things in life, there is nothing like experience. So, I will share the hacks that are guaranteed to give you an advantage when opening an art gallery. This guide will make getting started easy.
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Here are the top 10 things you need to open art gallery.
“Art is a passion or it is nothing.”Robert Fry
- A love of art. Art is medicine for the world. It can speak every language and portray every emotion. A good work of art can capture reality and dreams all at once. When you source your motivation from these understandings, you will find more than success, you will find fulfillment.
- Vision. Names have power and a business can’t open without one. Now is the time to choose your company name, logo, colors, message, and niche. Share your story with the world about why you are becoming an art gallery owner. Clarify your purpose, goals, expertise, and values as an art gallery owner. Your product and your brand can define your success. What type of art will you sell and which artists will you represent? Well-known artists are admittedly easier to sell while on the other hand, local artists can be particularly popular in tourist destinations. Even more rewarding would be to promote up-and-coming artists whose careers can be built simultaneously with your own. Ultimately, the artists you choose will be a reflection of your vision as an art gallery owner.
- Structure Your Business. Start by selecting one of the following structures: Sole Proprietor, General Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or a Corporation. Second, you will need to select a registered agent, and file your Articles of Organization with the Department of Consumer Affairs. The third step depends on which structure you choose. Either you will need to visit your county clerk to register a ‘Doing Business As (DBA) name’ or you will receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Next, you will need to have an Operating Agreement, Banking Resolution, and Statement of the Organizer. To streamline this process you could work with a company , such as IncFile who will handle everything for you. CPAs and attorneys can also be utilized for this process. Furthermore, you can obtain a DUNS number to apply for grants as well as file for a trademark, patents, and copyrights. Each state is different so be sure to check what the current protocols are in your area. Lastly, you will need to stay active by filing an annual report and paying associated costs. Tip: You can find more legal forms at FindLegalForms.com.
- Register Your Business Locally. Additionally, all businesses require a license issued by the city or state to operate legally. This is generally done with the local County office. In the event that you plan on offering food or wine for purchase at your art gallery, further permits may be required such as a liquor license. Maui’s resource guide is an example of what your state may provide to help new business owners get registered.
- Business Bank Account. How do you know which bank to choose? Convenience. Choose a local bank that is nearest to where you will be spending most of your time. In addition, I would open a second online bank that has integrated perks. The company I recommend is FOUND because it is an all-in-one bank with customizable tracking, real-time profit and loss statements, expense and income reports, expense categorization, receipt logs, invoices, and more. Use this code MDNKV9 for a mutual $20 bonus when you spend $100 with your new Found Card.
- Taxes and Bookkeeping. Whenever there is income there are taxes. As an art gallery owner, you will need to know the exact amount of taxes to either collect or apply on every transaction. While each state is different, you may be exempt from paying taxes on out of state sales. Make sure to have a good CPA to advise you on your taxes. Get a head start on maximizing your annual tax return by keeping accurate books with a program like Quickbooks or a company that specializes in small business accounting such as Mazuma. I have used Mazuma for years and I love their customer service, personal tax filing, 1099 service and the fact they have an assigned CPA to my company. In the event that you hire employees, there will be taxes to be paid on their wages as well and you will have more requirements to meet. There are payroll services like Gusto that can faciliate this aspect of your business.
- Build Your Website. Immediately purchase your ideal website domain once you’ve locked in your business name. Your gallery may move locations but your website can live on one ‘.com’ forever. You also need to select a website host and choose your website building platform, WordPress is the the best that there is.
- Social Media Profiles. In addition to locking in your domain, you will want to have the first choice for your profile name on social media profiles. The sooner you do this the better as you have a better chance at keeping all of your links consistent so that all you have to type is ‘/yourbussinessname’. Even if you don’t plan on using all of the platforms, you should still reserve your company name on all of them. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.
- Create a Business Plan. It’s time to bring your vision to life. Always start a business plan with extensive market research and become the expert on your industry, artists, and products. You may consider taking some Master Classes on design, art, management, and more. Your business plan should outline your specialties, what problem you solve, what services you offer, who your customers are, advantages over your competitors, price range, product sourcing, location layout, marketing strategy, start-up costs, operational budget, industry growth, and the financial projection for your return on investment (ROI).
- Capital Investment. There are many ways to obtain the funds to open your art gallery. You can either finance yourself, form a partnership with an investor(s), or get a bank/government small business loan. After all that preparing, you are now ready to open an art gallery!
Now that you have everything you need to open an art gallery,
discover more industry secrets.
Open an Art Gallery with an entrance that stops traffic.
Rules, rules, rules.
Artists are the best at breaking them, but business owners have to tread lightly. You will find that there are many restrictions when it comes to signage. Most towns have state officials enforcing rules. Signs must be permitted and meet the aesthetic standards of that area.
Before you open you should build your business up online as much as possible. Be sure to create a buzz for your grand opening.
There’s one thing every business should start with and that is signage and curb appeal.
Having a sidewalk sign coupled with balloons will draw more attention to grand openings and special events. As long as the sidewalk sign is not obstructing the walkway they usually end up staying for good.
Find a local graphic printer near you to create appealing announcements.
Do you think that you will maximize every inch of glass? Think again. Even window decals have to meet certain criteria. While it is worth it to pay the big bucks for proper signage, don’t hesitate to be creative and try to invite more business in with sidewalks signs. These are easy to change and they are easy to store.
Best Art Gallery Entryway Shopping List
- T-SIGN Heavy Duty Slide-in Folding A-Frame Sidewalk Sign 24 x 36 Inch Black Coated Steel Metal Double-Sided, 2 Corrugated Plastic Poster Boards
- Quality Open Closed Sign (White)
- Red Velvet Stanchion Rope – 2-Pack Crowd Control Rope Barrier with Polished Gold Hooks, 5 Feet
Elevate the entrance with velvet ropes and gorgeous planters. You can customize the color to match your theme, like black velvet for sophistication or purple for a royal feeling. Be creative with where you place the ropes or purchase the stands and create your entry design.
- Mayne Inc Cambridge Tall Planter, White 16×16″
Planters create an attractive display that’ll get passerby’s attention. Select vibrant flowers that match your company colors as an extravagant detail.
- WaterHog Eco Commercial-Grade Entrance Mat, Indoor/Outdoor
- LedMAll® Motion 8 Patterns in 1 RGB Outdoor Garden Laser Christmas
Consider a sophisticated laser light to create patterns on the ground in the entrance. Some galleries customize with their logo spinning or other special effects. The amount of traffic that will stop in your entryway will increase greatly!
- ASAKUKI Premium, Essential Oil Diffuser, 5 in 1 Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Fragrant Oil Humidifier Vaporizer
This is a century-old secret for businesses to attract more customers; the smell that starts the experience. When you walk past an ice cream shop the smell turns into a craving that turns into two scoops on a cone. Essential oils can influence more than just aroma, so choose your scent and your intention.
- Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with clock and Alexa | Glacier White
Continue to set the mood with music. I created a gallery playlist that reflected the diversity in the gallery and my taste. I streamed this through an Amazon playlist on Alexa and added additional speakers via Bluetooth where I wanted the music to be heard throughout the space.
Open An Art Gallery With Easy On The Eye (And You) Displays
Wallspace is a commodity in the art industry and just like time, there is never enough.
First, you need to design the layout so it is inviting and provokes curiosity. Every gallery should have some wrap-around walls where the viewers can circle it feeling like there is space between themselves and the consultants on the floor.
Let the guests explore small rooms and have some privacy as they browse.
The objective is to have as many moveable walls as possible so you can adjust the layout to whatever you are currently showcasing. You will also avoid the need for permits and contractors if nothing is permanently mounted to the existing walls. You can even have custom walls made with internal storage space.
Unless you plan on spending a lot of time spackling and painting over holes left behind, opt for carpeted walls so that you can avoid repairs until the end. Carpeted walls also allow you to Velcro titles and signage to the wall which saves a lot of time if you will be rotating displays often. I recommend using a graphic designer to create high-quality, attractive name displays for each artist.
It is all about presentation, so put as much artistry into the framing as the art itself and you will achieve a wow factor that clients have to have.
In addition to the room for art storage, make sure you have a workstation that will serve as your office.
Always leave the lighting to a professional and work with a reputable source for dimming track lights and electrical work.
Simple Shopping List for Art Gallery Displays
- Unum Acrylic Invisible Floating Shelves for Wall
Take advantage of over-the-door space with these discreet shelves. They are perfect for smaller pieces and prints.
- Mantello 4×6-Inch Picture Frame Set – Front Loading Small Photo Holder for Family Gallery – Display for Wall Artwork, Accent Piece, Photographs
Create gorgeous sign displays with artist bio, artwork storyline, social media QR codes, and more. Just Velcro onto the carpeted walls.
- VELCRO Brand Extreme Outdoor Mounting Tape
- U.S. Art Supply High Black Wood Display Stand A-Frame Artist Easel for Canvas, Painting, Photos, Pictures, Signs
Easels of all sizes will come in handy for displaying art on stands, in windows, on the desk, and larger easels for your featured work of art that can be placed within visibility from the street and easily rotated to keep that “brand-new” appeal for your customers.
Final Touches to Make Your Gallery Opening An Event to Remember
The most important tip to remember is you want your guests to feel comfortable and to stay inside as long as possible.
Keep the space cool, clean, ventilated, and inviting. Offer them espresso in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening, and always have cold water on hand.
Invite artists to paint live at your location and arrange a meet and greets with them in person.
Host events and fundraisers while cross-promoting neighboring businesses.
Be attentive to your guests and give them all the service and options they need right with you. This is how you will build a relationship that will last forever.
- Boss Office Products Box Arm Guest Chair with Mahogany Finish in Black
Keep in mind that collectors are not one size fits all. Choose furniture that is wide and spacious. I’ve seen galleries partner with high-end furniture design companies. The furniture company consigns their beautiful pieces for display and the gallery can even offer them for sale.
- Black Kraft Paper Bags with Handles, Gift Bags, Bags for Small Business
If it is small enough to carry it out instead of shipping it, they will. You should have gift bags available for smaller items, books, and more.
- Classic Black Guest Book
Now I am sure you haven’t gotten to the bottom of this list just to let your guests leave without becoming clients. A guest book is one of your most valuable tools as a business owner and capturing their e-mail for follow-up is a must.
Keep the momentum and excitement going – Art is by far one of the most rewarding products to represent and sell. It binds humanity without words and keeps creative careers alive!
Discover the Q&A’s of Opening an Art Gallery.
How much does it cost to open an art gallery?
The price to open an art gallery costs around $100,000. The two major determining factors would be the expense to remodel and the investment into high-end art. The start-up costs associated with a new business will consume the rest of the capital.
Is owning an art gallery profitable?
Owning an established art gallery is profitable but a new gallery should expect multiple years to pass before becoming profitable. It takes time to establish popularity and a good reputation for both the artists and the gallery. An art gallery can expect to make a modest $5,000 – $25,000 of net profit a month once they have consistency. At the peak of the art market, there were galleries profiting millions each month from the sales of blue-chip art. Art galleries located on boardwalks with similar businesses nearby tend to do better than a location that isn’t in the center of a town’s art scene.
What are the monthly expenses for an art gallery?
The monthly gallery expenses you can consistently expect are rent and CAM (Common Area Maintenence), electricity (a big portion will be spent keeping the art lit and the A/C on), phone and internet, payroll, wine and refreshments, display hardware, website maintenance, marketing materials, car fuel, bookkeeping, software, and taxes.
What is the monthly cost to run an art gallery?
It could cost $30,000 a month to run an art gallery. A grandeur gallery’s monthly costs range towards $100,000 a month. This means you need to sell double that amount if your gallery commission is 50%.
Do you need a license to open an art gallery?
Yes. All for-profit businesses adhere to the same licensing requirements such as a business license and a license to collect tax. An art gallery needs to be a registered company (such as an LLC) and have a license to collect taxes (such as G.E. Taxes).
Can I open an art gallery in a small space?
Yes. Location is more important than size when it comes to opening an art gallery. Places like Front St. have all different styles and multiple galleries side by side, some by famous artists and some by local street painters, but they are in a prime location. Focus on wall space and lighting while creating a nice path for the viewers to walk around the space as they engage with the artwork. At the same time, the larger the art gallery, the more successful it tends to become. Many art gallery owners began in small locations and expanded as they could afford it.
What is the best way to get people to come to an art gallery?
While location, location, location will always be a huge influence on foot traffic, there are more ways to attract customers to your gallery. The best way to get more people to come to your art gallery is with signage and events. Get creative with your window displays, invite an artist to paint live right outside the front door, and host themed exhibitions that you can promote.
Do galleries own the art?
Each gallery is different, however, most small galleries rely on consignment to fill their walls, while more established gallerists purchase the artwork directly from the artist or from other sources. Each gallery-artist relationship is entirely customizable. Everything is negotiated from the percentage of the sale that is to be paid to the gallery, who covers the cost of shipping, how they expect to receive the artwork for display, framing choices and cost, returning if not sold, marketing expenses, and exclusivity.