What’s the Deal on “Vanity Galleries”?


Known as “Play to [dis]Play”, the Vanity Gallery model has been around since the 80s, when the idea of exhibiting in New York meant success.  As you could imagine, this idea introduced a profitable niche where galleries charge artists nominal fees for representation. It makes sense, in theory: you’re a new artist, not much to your name, and so you pay someone to spend their time and energy advertising your art.

So, is it worth it?
Most likely…no.  Here’s why:

Any organization whose business model is focused on the artist paying upfront fees, as opposed to selling their art to collectors, should be avoided.  These galleries exploit naive artists who do not understand how commercial galleries are run and know they will bite any opportunity to show.

However, don’t confuse these with legitimate spaces, including non-profit co-operatives and artist-run galleries, that may charge artists small fees. The fact of the matter is, it costs money to put together exhibitions, and thus charging artists fees to show are not uncommon.  Co-operatives work with its artists and may split the burden of overhead equally, charging not-for-profit.  Some commercial galleries, especially ones that have high reputations, may charge rental fees depending on your relationship with the gallery and its business model.

If a gallery approaches you, asking for money to show, research the following:

After some scoping out, you should be able to get a sense of their legitimacy and make an informed decision.  In every case, always be wary, read the fine print, and ask a lot of questions.

I am an abstract artist represented by BeatyAmerican in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia.  My paintings include a series of Arctic landscapes which are based on images of arctic glaciers, tundra, and sea ice mainly in Greenland and Iceland.  I have been selected as the featured artist for the BeatyAmerican new space with NEXTFAB at 1800 American Street, Philadelphia.  I am drawn to the elements of the Arctic sea, land, and sky and the interface among these bodies.  Decisions are made what features and elements will remain and what will be discarded, reflecting a rapidly changing landscape yet still beautiful.
I work with oil paint, wet on dry, on wood panels with cradled frames establishing texture and depth using brushes, palette knives, oil sticks, and oil pens.  Completed paintings are professionally framed and ready to hang.
Earlier work focused on urban landscapes, refineries, bridges, buildings, other structures, and geometric patterns of developed lands and built environments.
Karen Stabenow
Karen Stabenow

I am an abstract artist represented by BeatyAmerican in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia. My paintings include a series of…

I am an abstract artist represented by BeatyAmerican in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia. My paintings include a series of Arctic landscapes which are based on images of arctic glaciers, tundra, and sea…

I am an abstract artist represented by BeatyAmerican in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia. My paintings include a series of Arctic landscapes which are based on images of arctic glaciers, tundra, and sea ice mainly in Greenland…

Greg Kelly
Greg Kelly
Carla J Fisher uses thread and throwaways to symbolize how even the tired, used, and totally spent can experience new life. Through free motion machine embroidery, she seeks the viewer’s visceral response of surprise as they realize the sculptured material is simply thread.
Carla J Fisher
Carla J Fisher

Carla J Fisher uses thread and throwaways to symbolize how even the tired, used, and totally spent can experience new life.…

Carla J Fisher uses thread and throwaways to symbolize how even the tired, used, and totally spent can experience new life. Through free motion machine embroidery, she seeks the viewer’s visceral response…

Carla J Fisher uses thread and throwaways to symbolize how even the tired, used, and totally spent can experience new life. Through free motion machine embroidery, she seeks the viewer’s visceral response of surprise as they…

Anna Mogilevsky
Anna Mogilevsky
Once you find something that truly moves you, if can enhance your personal life, encourage you to grow, and leave you wanting more. That's what glass does for me. It's my first love. It's given me life and joy.
Eva E. Glassworks (Eva Shelley)
Eva E. Glassworks (Eva Shelley)

Once you find something that truly moves you, if can enhance your personal life, encourage you to grow, and leave you wanting…

Once you find something that truly moves you, if can enhance your personal life, encourage you to grow, and leave you wanting more. That's what glass does for me. It's my first love. It's given me life…

Once you find something that truly moves you, if can enhance your personal life, encourage you to grow, and leave you wanting more. That's what glass does for me. It's my first love. It's given me life and joy. …

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