Since about a year, every now and then I read of a collegue working in the industry that is thinking about leaving commercial works behind and taking the fine art /gallery route.
I can well understand the appeal : leaving behind a specific genre and paint ‘what I like’, with no deadlines, no Art Director – sent assignements , no ‘I’d like the composition of n.1, the palette of n.2 and the point of view of n. 6, may I have the new sketch tomorrow?’, setting one’s own prices, coming back to working with ‘real’ paint and being able to hold an original in one’s hands once more.
Besides… as some say and some more or less imply, shedding the ‘mercenary’ label to enter the ranks of ‘real’ artists, those who paint for art’s sake and do not accept assignements to meet the basic need to put food on the table.
As I said, I understand the appeal, fact is that I don’t find it that realistic.
I’ve seen the gallery route close and personal, given that my mother has done quite a few exibitions before deciding to go the private-commission way. Admittedly I don’t know how things are outside Europe, but I don’t believe they are that different (I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, though).
An art gallery is a businness: it has a space, which costs, either as initial investment or as monthly rent, it has personnell that must be paid, it needs a name and a reputation and that means events, PR and advertising.
I remember an exibition of art of the ‘90s by Veronese painters. At the vernissage there was an introductory lecture held by an history of art professor , a critic and a well-known local gallery owner. When it was time for questions, a member of the public asked the gallery owner about ‘how can art be defined’, the answer was immediate and assured : “What sells is art”.
Galleries want to sell, that often means following the trend that’s ‘cool’ at the moment, it means that a newbie has either to be introduced by someone or to strike the owner’s fancy as ‘sellable’ (either by style or by some quirk of personality or bio) in which case, of course, a good percentage of the sale price goes to the gallery, or has to rent gallery space investing personal money in the hope to recup expenses, and possibly earn something, with sales.
Even more, an exibition is a deadline, one for which the painter works for months on end, even a year or more, to produce the 20 – 30 pieces that will be shown, with no guarantee whatsoever that even one of them will be sold.
Frankly this mercenary likes much better trying to make a name for himself in the game industry and painting some originals on the side (time allowing) for direct sale to fans and collectors…