Dealing With Gallery Rejection

Dealing With Gallery Rejection

One of my students emailed me recently to say that she was rejected by two galleries in her local area and that she was so distraught that she could hardly get to the studio to paint. She was devastated by the rejections and what one of the gallerists said about her work.

Any artist who has ever approached a gallery for representation has most likely felt this rejection, and it hurts. We can let it hurt us for a long time, or we can devise a plan to sell our work ourselves and forget about gallery representation. My advice is to learn to sell your work yourself, and bypass galleries all together. You can sell more work on your own than you can through a gallery! (For the discussion here, the galleries I am referencing are mid and lower tier galleries, not the long established high end galleries).

Remember the Great Recession back in 2008? Many former galleries sure do. Roughly 40-50% of US galleries went out of business from 2008-2010. The ones that remain, who once represented 15-20 artists, now represent 60-80 artists. Most galleries are small and have limited floor and wall space. Galleries cannot physically show the work of 60-80 artists, so unless you are one of their best selling artists, your paintings will likely end up in the storage room rather than the gallery walls.

I always thought, as do many artists, that getting gallery representation would change my life and create a large stream of regular income. Neither of those "myths" are true. You may sell a few pieces a year, and those sales could be one of your income streams, but not enough to support an art career.

Many existing brick and mortar galleries are on the way out anyway. One of the main reasons is that many have not embraced the "Amazon Era." What do I mean by that? The gallery world as a whole has not accepted online art sales - most don't even put the prices on the work, much less have a shopping cart and payment system. Amazon has set the standard for selling online, and people expect it when they visit any type of website that has products for sale. If you don't get onboard, the world of commerce will leave you behind - goodbye galleries!

My advice is to focus on learning to sell your own work, and don't focus on getting into galleries. You will do a better job of selling your own work yourself. Get a great website set up with your work, prices, sizes, and a shopping cart and payment system so that people can buy directly from your site. Get your work up on walls in your local community so that people begin to see what your work looks like. Make connections in your local community to establish a base of buyers/collectors. Start collecting emails from those that enjoy what you do, and communicate with them on a regular basis. This will be the group of people who will help support your art career by purchasing your work and referring you to people they know.

Take control of your art career. Learn to do things yourself. And just remember, you won't have to give up 50% of your hard earned income to the gallery - you can keep it all for yourself! How's that for incentive?

Leave a comment and let me know how selling for yourself has worked for you.

For those that are interested in a fun and engaging workshop experience, I have some workshops coming up that you will love: (You can see a full list of Workshops by Clicking HERE.)

  • October 13-15, 2017 New Braunfels Art League, New Braunfels, TX. To register contact Sandy Oberg or 210-861-0751. Details HERE.
  • October 20-22, 2017 Lafayette Art Association, Lafayette, LA. to register contact Susan Hamilton or 337-849-6791. This is an Advanced Workshop focusing on developing a series of paintings.
  • November 2-4, 2017 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. To register contact David at or 336-418-3038. This is an Advanced Workshop focusing on developing a series of paintings.
  • November 7-9, 2017 Spring Island, SC. To register contact Pam Brickell by email: or phone: 843-987-3403.
  • November 12, 2017 Art of the Carolinas, sponsored by Jerry's Artarama, Raleigh, NC. Go to: to register.
  • November 17-19, 2017 Donna Downey Studios, Huntersville, NC. To register contact Bill Downey: or visit the website:

As always, thanks so much for your support! 


P.S. If you cannot attend a live event, or prefer to learn online in the comfort of your home or studio, Abstract Painting Academy is my online workshop:

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Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop. You can learn more about the program by Clicking HERE.