Your Guide To Artist Representation Types

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As a promotional venue, Agora Gallery often receives questions from artists who are interested in learning about different methods of representation. Because of the several options now available to artists, it can be confusing and often times difficult to make decisions unless an artist has all the facts. To that end, this guide provides information which explains the various options available to artists.

Useful Article: Building A Sustainable Art Career

Commission-based Galleries

Source: Gagosian Gallery

The more commonly known model of a gallery is the commission-based gallery. These galleries make a profit from the sale of the artwork. Commissions for the galleries are typically 50% – 60% and can be as high as 75% of the selling price of the artwork. Many of these galleries, if not all, require that an artist shares their mailing list with the gallery.

Commission-based galleries typically have a strong history and presence in the art world. They will have a network of collectors and regular sales. Because these galleries take on a risk whenever they show new artists, they are often very exclusive and will only show well-established artists who have demonstrated sale potential and customer appeal.

Co-op Galleries

Source: Broome County Arts Council

A co-op gallery is managed by the artists who participate in them. In most cases, artists are expected to pay a portion of the rent, clean the space, promote the exhibitions, sit in the gallery during open hours, and contribute to the operation of the gallery. Occasionally, these galleries may take commission from sales to pay for the rent and maintenance of the space.

The reputation, sales, and promotion of shows in these galleries can all range depending on the work that the artists put in. A co-op gallery is a great opportunity for an artist who is willing to do the work needed for maintaining a gallery without being able to afford a large space on their own.

Did you know that the founder of Agora Gallery was an artist and that the gallery actually started as a co-op gallery in 1984? However, when many of the artists could no longer commit to working in the gallery, the model gradually changed to accommodate paying employees to do these tasks. Eventually, Agora Gallery segued into a promotional gallery (explained below).

Promotional Galleries

Source: Agora Gallery

The primary focus of a promotional gallery is to provide artists with the exposure that they need in order to become better established in the art world. The gallery director evaluates the artwork and determines if the work is a good match for the gallery and the art market. Artists pay an annual fee to be promoted, based on terms of an agreement, with the option to renew at a lower cost.

Promotional galleries like Agora employ professional art writers, PR coordinators, social media specialists, graphic designers, exhibition coordinator, registrar, and professional art handlers to name a few. These galleries provide ongoing advice regarding pricing, career guidance, self-marketing techniques, portfolio submission to museums, and so much more.

Related Articles: 8 Benefits Of Gallery Representation and Your Guide To Artist Representation Types

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Art Fairs/Expos

Source: Deco NY

Art fairs often have different rules for participation. However, many of them function by selling booths or tables to galleries or organizations. Occasionally, an art fair will allow individual artists to purchase a spot, but this is less common and often expensive.

By participating in an art fair, artists don’t need to do much in the way of promotion or marketing. The organizers take care of all the marketing for the fair and usually are successful in attracting a large crowd. Of course, a little extra self-promotion never hurts! However, the events themselves often last only a few days so the time for making any sales is limited.

Related Article: Setting Up For Success At Art Fairs

Vanity Galleries

Framed black canvases

A vanity gallery will offer wall space to anyone who is willing to pay for it. Often, these galleries have no portfolio review process and will show artwork by anyone who can afford the wall space. Consequently, the quality of the art can be low which can harm the reputation of the artist as well as the gallery itself.

Most vanity galleries do not charge commission and have little incentive to sell artwork. However, this is not universal. If you are considering a partnership with a vanity gallery, make sure you are going into it with your eyes open and have them sign a legally binding contract, so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Artist Agents


An artist agent is any professional who works on behalf of an artist to represent, promote, and sell their work. Working with an agent does not keep you from showing your artwork in galleries or art fairs—in fact, agents will often help you secure shows in these locations. Agents may be art collectors, dealers, or publicists, and they might charge commissions or up-front fees. It is a diverse occupation, and, as always, we recommend that you research any representative before officially committing.

Useful Article: A Guide to Artist Agents

Pop-up Shows

Source: White Space Chelsea

A pop-up is a limited time event in a location owned by an outside party. It could take place in an art gallery, a store, or even a restaurant. Individuals or organizations like schools, art groups, and even galleries can organize pop-up shows. Cost generally varies depending on location, and all of the fees for promotion is the responsibility of the artist.

Virtual Representation

Different types of art

As the art world expands digitally, there are increasingly more and more virtual representation options that are available to artists. Online galleries that sell and promote artwork virtually are an emerging market. Most of these only charge for the server space for your own page on their website. Some may additionally charge commission and promotion fees.

However, the internet does not allow face-to-face interaction. Therefore, we can not attest to the sales success on these virtual galleries or even their reputability. As always, Agora Gallery advises that artists exercise caution when dealing with people only by the internet. You should always be cautious of scam artists and identity thieves when it comes to virtual artist representation.

Useful Article: How To Identify And Avoid Art Frauds

When deciding on the most suitable artist representation model, you may need to make some sacrifices. Either allow yourself a budget to pay for professional representation or take the time to work on promoting yourself. Nonetheless, you must always choose the path that is right for you.

Looking to develop your artistic career and build a presence in New York City and worldwide? Book an online career development consultation meeting today.



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17 responses to “Your Guide To Artist Representation Types”

  1. Ofer MizraChi avatar

    I’m Ofer MizraChi
    Looking for New Gallery Representation.

    I would like to cooperate.

    Ofer MizraChi

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Ofer,

      We have noted your email address and someone from the submissions department will be contacting you shortly.

      Than kYou!

  2. Regina Lacape avatar

    I would like to submit my paintings, what do I do?

  3. maryam avatar

    am an artist from Iran. Can I open an exhibition in one of your gallery? Thank you!

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Maryam, you’re welcome to submit your portfolio for a review. Please take a look at the Gallery Representation and FAQ page for more information.

  4. odilia mezquia avatar

    Buenas noches, estoy interesada en la promocion de, galerias basada en la comicion, le envio mis datos y por favor pueden contestarme por e-mail.
    gracias por su tiempo
    Odilia Mezquia.

    1. carolina carilo avatar

      Hola Odilia,

      Recibirás un correo con información.

  5. José Gonçalves avatar

    Im Brazilian an artist I would like to make an exposure in these gallery and I would give 50% of the sale of my paintings

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Jose, someone from our Submission dept. will contact you shortly via email. In the meantime, please visit our FAQ and Gallery Representation pages for more information.

  6. Myriam Cuneo avatar

    The more commonly known model of a gallery is the commission-based gallery. This gallery makes its profit by taking a commission from the artwork it sells, typically starting at 50% and sometimes going up to 75%. Esa es la manera en que las galerias nos venden nuestro arte, quisiera llevar obras a NYC. He vendido en Tallahasse, St’ Simons Island and Macon in USA.

    He llevado obra a Jerusalem, Barcelona, y la he vendido.

    Si les interesa puedo enviar muchas imágenes.

  7. Richard Lozier avatar

    After all these years painting, I wonder if my work is good enough to show in New York. I started changing my style to expressionism, but agents in that field are hard to find without a ton of money to spend. Regards, Richard

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Richard, you’re welcome to submit your portfolio for a review. Please take a look at the Gallery Representation and FAQ pages for more information. I will also have someone from the Submission dept. contact you via email.

  8. Guillermo von Plocki avatar

    Dear Friends, I would like to promote my work in form of an exhibit.
    I prefer NY, have you some representation there?
    For more information take please a look on my homepage (only computer)
    or (iphone, ipad)

  9. Luigi Puiu avatar

    I am un artist from Romania. Can I open un exhibition in one of your gallery? Thank you!

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Luigi, I forwarded your request to our submissions department; someone will be touch with you in the very near future. If you’d like more information in the meantime, you can visit our Gallery Representation and Promotion page.

  10. Uri Negvi. avatar

    Ya he estado en contacto con Uds y les he enviado material de mi obra para una exposición colectiva, pero no pude participar ya que el presupuesto no lo podía cubrir.
    Les pido el favor si actualmente es posible su representación y el costo actual de sus honorarios.
    Muchas gracias.

    1. carolina carilo avatar

      Hola Uri,

      Gracias por tu mensaje. Te vamos a enviar un correo con la información prontamente.