Monday, November 1, 2010


Artists often ask me what they should look for when looking for a gallery to represent them. As an art rep and daughter of a gallery represented artist (the late painter and illustrator Robert G. Stevens) I recommend that you obtain answers to the following questions before you attempt to approach a gallery about representation:

1. How long has the gallery been in business?

As we all know, even in the best of economic times many small businesses including art galleries struggle to find their footing. My advice is to try to find a gallery that has been in business at least four years. In fact, on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website, I found out that…

“Two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, 44 percent survive at least four years, and 31 percent survive at least seven years, according to a recent study. These results were constant for different industries. … Of special interest, the research found that businesses that survive four years have a better chance of surviving long-term. After the fourth year, the rate of firm closings declines considerably.”

You don’t want to be accepted to a gallery only to find that it is going to close the next month so first and foremost, you want to find a gallery that has a longer term track record.

2. Does the gallery have a good location?

Do they have good foot traffic and adequate parking? If not, how do they bring in new business? You want to get a feel for their clientele and how they handle people coming and going into their physical location.

3. What is the director’s background?

Do the directors have an art background or a marketing background? (Ideally they should have both.) Keep in mind, per the SBA website:
“…the major factors in a firm’s survivability include an ample supply of capital, being large enough to have employees, the owner’s education level, and the owner’s reason for starting the firm.”

I would add to the list above that the gallery owner needs to have a passion for the art they are selling. If they are not passionate about the art, then you don’t want to be in their gallery.

4. Does the gallery cross-promote with other dealers?

Are they part of a gallery group or a regularly scheduled art walk or other event? In other words, do they make an effort to grow their business with each event they do? This is essential to their long term success, and to your assurance that your artwork will be seen.

5. Are you able to obtain a referral for the gallery and the director?

Speak to other represented gallery artists about the gallery’s operations and the people running it. Are they honest? Do they have written contracts and consignment agreements with their artists, and do they pay them on time? What percentage do they take? Even a seasoned gallery artist like my late father had a very bad experience with a prestigious gallery in Taos, New Mexico. Over the four years he was in the gallery, the director increasingly paid the artists very late, sometimes as much as six months after a sale! When the gallery closed suddenly with three of his paintings still in their possession, my father found out about it from a newspaper article. We have never been able to retrieve his lovely paintings from the gallery director who had stolen them.

6. What kind of marketing does the gallery do?
Does the gallery advertise in major art magazines, produce postcard mailings, work the internet and have a great website? Does the director write articles, speak in public or publish catalogues? Do they attend the major art fairs? You need to know how the gallery plans to expose your work to collectors.

7. How are you treated when you go to the gallery?

One of the best stories I’ve heard on this “due diligence” subject was from a sculptor. One Saturday she put on an expensive outfit, armed with her wish list, and spent the day visiting ten galleries in Santa Monica. She decided in advance that she would not mention that she was an artist looking for representation.

At two of the ten galleries she visited the doors were closed. There was no information on the door about their hours or how they could be reached. (She crossed them off her list.) At three of the galleries she was greeted adequately by friendly people who knew absolutely nothing about the art on display, nor about any of the artists who created the work. (She crossed these galleries off her list as well.)

She was ignored completely at four of the galleries she visited. The people working in the galleries didn’t even say hello to her and spent their time talking on the phone or working on the computer. They never even looked at her! (She didn’t like this at all and crossed them off her list, too.)

At the tenth gallery she visited, however, she was greeted by a young man who was knowledgeable about the art. He seemed interested in her and her reactions to the work. He told her engaging stories about the artists and gave her additional information about the media the artists used to create the work. He invited her to their upcoming reception, and asked her for her contact information to add to their mailing list. She decided that, of the ten galleries on her original list, only this last gallery was worthy of her attention.

Remember that in your search for a gallery, one size does not fit all. Each gallery is unique in its location, how it is run, and the style of art the director will accept. Like the shrewd artist mentioned in the story above, before approaching a gallery you need to do some research to determine which gallery will be the best fit for you and your work.

Source Note: SBA Website Quoted: “Business Employment Dynamics Data: Survival and Longevity, II,” by Amy E. Knaup and Merissa C. Piazza, Monthly Labor Review, vol. 30, no. 9 (Sept. 2007), pp. 3-10; “Redefining Business Success: Distinguishing Between Closure and Failure” by Brian Headd, Small Business Economics, vol. 21, no. 1 (August 2003), pp. 51-61.

About the author: Margaret Danielak is the author of artist handbook “A Gallery without Walls” (ArtNetwork Press). She may be reached through her website at
or via email at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This article was first published in the San Marino Tribune.
Margaret Danielak © 2010

Have you purchased so much artwork over the years that your walls are full? Are you interested in acquiring new artwork, but do not want to part with the pieces in your collection? One solution is to rotate your art to correspond with the changing seasons, and learn how to take care of and store pieces not currently on display.

As the daughter of artists with a pre-existing, and ever increasing art collection, my husband and I long ago ran out of wall space. We wondered what to do with each new piece we acquired. Then it occurred to us that we could enjoy our artwork more by storing some pieces, and then rotating in new work every three months. Now, in the summer, we hang paintings of lovely farms, koi-filled ponds and rushing rivers in our dining and living rooms. In the fall, we un-wrap and display acrylics featuring golden aspens, and then change the tablecloth and other accents around the house to fall colors. We clean, wrap and store the “summer themed” paintings until the next year. Each season we create a fresh look simply because we take some pieces out and introduce previously stored and new artwork. As an added benefit, by rotating our collection, we are able to dust each piece and then check the wall to see if natural or artificial light has caused the wall to discolor.

Below are a few tips to help you take care of your artwork as you rotate your collection:

• When displaying an art piece, keep in mind how heavy it is. Consider using weight-rated wall mount picture hangers (hooks) as they tend to minimize wall damage. Weight-rated hangers are found both online and in most hardware stores. If you are displaying sculpture, make sure the table or podium is sturdy enough for the piece. Consult with the artist about how to keep the work in place in the event of an earthquake or other accidental occurrence.

• Too much light can destroy your art. Investigate conservation framing (or reframing) utilizing UV glass and rag mats for light sensitive pieces, like watercolors. Ask your framer about new products and techniques he/she can use to protect the pieces in your collection.

• Sometimes people will spray glass covered art directly and then dust it like a table. This practice should be avoided as the fluid may seep into the cracks and cause damage to the mat and possibly, the art. Rather, use a micro fiber dust cloth to dust around the glass and the frame.

• Consider acquiring an adjustable art rack to store your framed pieces when they are not on display. This type of rack has slots wherein you may “file” your smaller sized pieces. Remember that for framed pieces, the corners will be most vulnerable to damage. Before storing, wrap each piece in clear, clean plastic, and then put corners of extra bubble wrap or cardboard corners on each corner.

• If you do not own an art rack, or you own large pieces that won’t fit into the rack, wrap each piece as described above and store in a cool, dry closet or room being sure to position the piece in hanging (display) orientation. For additional protection, “file” the piece in your closet using a sturdy cardboard art box. Another option is to wrap the piece in padded paper, like the kind currently used by furniture movers. Padded paper is easy to use and especially effective in protecting glassed pieces.

By rotating your art with the changing seasons, you will be able to care for and appreciate more of your collection over the course of the year. Most importantly, you might find space for that next, new exciting art acquisition.

Margaret Danielak is the owner of DanielakArt – A Gallery Without Walls based in Pasadena, California. Mrs. Danielak is the author of the handbook for fine artists A Gallery Without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues (ArtNetwork Press) which was a featured selection of North Light Book Club. Her email is and phone is 626-683-9922 website is

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Art of Selling Art Workshop - January 30, 2010

“This was the most valuable business seminar that I have ever attended.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010 9:30 am – 3:00 pm

Led by Art Rep and Author Margaret Danielak


Artist Julie Snyder of The Art Engine


· Find a good gallery to represent your work
· Close sales by dealing effectively with buyers’ objections
· Use new technologies and low cost methods to promote your artwork

131 N. Avenue 50
Highland Park, CA
323 258 1435

Only $75.00 ! (Includes workshop materials) INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER:

WHAT ARTISTS HAVE TOLD US… “Great ideas for reaching clients!” “You are great speakers and communicate well. Your humor adds to the stimulating information.”