While working or exhibiting in an art gallery is most artists dream; it may not necessarily be the end all be all! Here's why; as a self representing artist I've come to understand many angles as to what makes an artist/work sell. Success is subjective, so I wont touch on that since, everyone has their own idea for it. We cannot measure success. It could be to exhibit in a gallery for many artists, but for others like myself success looks something like this; to exhibit in many galleries, sell multiple times, and at high prices, and become the best artist I can possible be!
Now with that being said; I'm going to talk about selling artwork - since that we can measure. Many artists have the idea that if they exhibit in a gallery, they are set, and thus begin to sell there artwork and gain recognition. However, selling, is selling, is selling! We cannot go around that aspect of the work if you want to live from your art! This is almost never the case. Just because you have an art exhibit it does not mean much in the greater scheme of things (in your career - unless you have it at the Guggenheim, and even that may not cut it alone).
Many galleries tell artists that they want exclusivity of their work, however they don't have the push power to create revenue for you. So while you become exclusive to a mom and pop gallery or online site, you are not benefiting much from that! They are covered because they have exclussive/unique artwork to sell (and from a handful of artists), but you are not...since you have to depend on their sales. Remember here artists...they are not only trying to sell your artwork (it's multiple artists).
One fair way of doing this, as I've expressed this to many smaller galleries; would be to allow the artist to show elsewhere, so that they to have an opportunity to create revenue and not just depend on the good will and enthusiasm of a mom and pop gallery.
I hope we can get to a place where we can all benefit each other! And not just a one way game.
Please comment your thoughts on this below. Or share if you agree!