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starting a new gallery

updated mon 21 oct 02


Gail Dapogny on sat 19 oct 02

Hi Lisa and anyone else interested:
This will sort of be a nutshell version of a small group of potters running
a gallery.
Here in Ann Arbor, 12 of us have -- own, maintain, contribute to, pay
expenses for, etc.-- a gallery of about 900 square feet, downtown. We are
all local artists (clay) and our gallery is called The Clay Gallery. We
are a "collective" and decide things as a group. This has pluses and
minuses. Lots of democracy, but sometimes it is difficult to make group
Location is of course important, and we are in an area of some other
galleries and popular restaurants. That works well for us.
We all work in the gallery -- each averaging about 3 days a month. To
maintain it financially, we all contribute a base fee that covers our rent,
utilities, supplies, miscellaneous. In addition, we contribute 18%
commission on each piece sold.

We combine our various talents in the usual ways: financial, display,
publicity, mailing list, scheduling, supplies buyer, etc. And that seems
to work. When we need to, we close for a few days, and re-build and
re-paint as needed.

This gallery has been in existence since 1984, and has had many ups and and
a few downs. We changed location 3 years ago and that helped a lot. The
economic woes of this year have taken their toll, but since we are a
"collective" , we are able to maintain the business.

Our gallery looks very special, not too cluttered, and high quality. Also
we have enormous diversity, not only of types of items but also individual
styles. This has appeal. Mugs, platters, casseroles, fountains, wall
pieces, sculpture, etc. We all bring in new work each month. This keeps us
fresh. We emphasize our "localness." People like that, and are happy
knowing they are buying something handcrafted by a local artist for
weddings, anniversaries, housewarming, gifts, and such. Ann Arbor has a
large university (Univ. of Michigan) with distinguished faculty and staff,
and many international guests. Our gallery pleases a wide variety of
people, including university people in a big way. Often people going
abroad will choose a "hand-crafted local" gift from our gallery. And we're
of course ecstatic to hear people say, "This is my favorite store in town."

Hope this helps.

>Anybody out there have their own gallery? I'm just toying with the idea
>of opening one, and wondering if I could conceivably make a living at
>it. Please let me know if you are doing OK with your gallery, and what
>I'd need to get started.