a group show in a non-profit gallery

Types of Galleries-

Rental: This gallery is a space in which the artist rents for a flat rate rental fee for a designated amount of time. Occasionally the space also take a small commission, but not usually. The artist is typically required to handle all of the details that goes into showing in one of these spaces including promotion, food and beverages, hanging the show, PR, hosting the reception, etc. Sometimes the gallery space will also help with promotion, but the costs involved in the show and opening reception fall on the artist/renter. Showing in this type of a gallery doesn't hold as much prestige as a commercial gallery, but it is great experience for someone starting out. It's also a great option for putting together a group show.

Vanity: This type of gallery is similar to the rental gallery but not quite the same. They usually require a membership fee to be included in their shows instead of a one time rental fee. These galleries do usually do some of the promotion, but if you're looking to move up to the commercial gallery, showing in this type of venue generally won't help your resume.

Non-Profit: These galleries give artists the opportunity to show and sell your artwork, but also don't do much promotion for the artist. They often take a small commission, and sometimes require a rental fee and sometimes do not. These galleries are great for someone just starting out, especially students.

Co-op: These galleries are run by a group of artists and are there to promote each others work. Members share the responsibility of the cost of keeping the gallery running and of putting on the shows, as well as the upkeep of the gallery. This type of gallery requires a commitment to not only showing your own work, but for putting in the time and effort to keep the space running to show other artists work as well. Often, these galleries have studio space involved also and are more like a small artists community. These are great for someone looking to build relationships with other artists.

Art Center: Art centers may be privately run or run by the government, communities, or educational institutions. They often offer classes and workshops and include a gallery space as a supplemental part to the center. You may have the opportunity for a solo show here, but are more likely to be included in a group show. These are great places to look for 'call for entries' for juried group shows and competitions.

Commercial/Retail: These galleries are there to make a profit by selling an artists work. They promote a list of artists that they “represent”, require the artists to continue making new work, have an ongoing relationship with the artist, and take a commission on the sale of all work, typically anywhere from 30-50%. These galleries are better for the more mature and career-driven artist. Read more about commercial galleries and getting represented in tomorrows post, part 3.

Museum: The museum is an established type of gallery that typically shows work by established artists only. The museum covers all costs involved in the showing of work, but takes a commission on sales if it is a gallery that sells the work- some do, some do not.

Alternative Spaces: Alternative spaces are spaces where you can exhibit your artwork that is not considered a gallery. These spaces range but there is no representation, fees, or help with promotion. There may or may not be an availability for an opening reception, and there may or may not be a commission on sales taken. Like with a rental space, all of the work for these types of spaces usually falls back on the artist. These places are less formal than galleries, but can often times get your work seen by a wider and larger audience of people since they are often (but not always) places of business or public places where people go for reasons other than to see artwork. The art on display is basically a compliment to the space and provides work to decorate the space. The artist usually needs to seek out these spaces and create a relationship with the company or space to allow them to show their work there. Occasionally, you may see an ad for one of these places looking for people to exhibit (such as for a restaurant looking for artwork for their walls).

Some examples of alternative or non-traditional spaces include: Restaurants/bars/coffee shops/bakeries, the library, retail stores, businesses/office buildings, art fairs (or fairs in general), beauty salons, tattoo shops, public art commissions, hotels, on public transportation, fitness clubs, empty real estate spaces, houses, convention centers, airports... pretty much anywhere is fair game. Just be sure to get permission, permits if the space requires it, and do some preliminary research on rules and how to get organized for something like this. Here is a place to start- http://artistemerging.blogspot.com/2006/10/alternative-exhibition-spaces.html
a solo show in an alternative space (tattoo shop gallery)

Resources- If you're interested in finding calls for entries for exhibiting, here are some places that keep updated lists of these types of opportunities...


You can also look in: Photography and art magazines, the local newspaper, online searches and related websites, through pro photo groups, through local photo clubs, area specific gallery guides (example http://www.artaccess.com/Exhibitions), and through schools.