Before 2011, I never saw myself running an art gallery. I was happily painting, but sales could have been happier. My wife Sarah and I had been trying to find a way for her to be a stay-at-home mom for our kids. Even with six galleries carrying my work, I began to consider opening my own gallery in hopes that sales of my artwork could alone support my growing family.
Thanks to three artists in particular, I was inspired to strike out on my own. Carl Ortman had the most impact, but I also took advice from Josh Been and Carl Bork. (Each of the three in fact has his own gallery in Salida, Colorado.) I began looking for a storefront location, first in Colorado Springs, Colorado (where we lived at the time), then in other locations throughout the Southwest. We liked the idea of a California location and found an available shop that we liked in downtown Ojai.
Four months (and a lot of work) later we had moved to Ojai and opened Dan Schultz Fine Art Gallery & Studio. Our family and friends were very supportive and a great help to us in preparing for and making the move. We couldn’t have done it without them.
We didn’t know what to expect when we opened, but we’re thankful that we’ve already celebrated four years in business. I still see the value of working with other established galleries and continue to do so, but opening my own storefront has made it possible for me to make a living as an artist. And I’ve noticed some other advantages as well:
1. I get to have my own show all the time and choose how to present it.
2. I’m able to interact in person with gallery visitors, receive ongoing feedback about my work and maintain relationships with those who make purchases.
3. I don’t have to pay another gallery a portion (40% – 50%) of each sale.
4. I get to provide a valuable cultural service for my community and those who visit, helping to educate them about art and showing them that quality work is being done by living artists. (Especially important for kids who may eventually decide to collect art or pursue art as a profession.)
5. The reputation I develop (hopefully positive!) in my community has the potential to spread to a larger area.
I think more and more artists have been opening their own storefront galleries in order to keep doing what they love. Any of you want to chime in with other advantages?