How Do Art Dealers Decide?
How Do Art Dealers Decide?
Art Dealer

How Do Art Dealers Decide?

When we find a potential artist we ask ourselves several questions: Do we have chemistry with the art? Is there a good market for this kind of work right now? Will it sell? At the end of the day, we follow our gut.

“Selecting artists is intuitive. For me, when I discover a new artist, I’ll just know. Sometimes I even have dreams about their work. I can’t stop thinking about it, and that’s what seals the deal. It’s almost like a crush, the art fills up all the space in my brain and it’s all I can think about.”  – Rohini Dalal (RD), Head Curator

When asked where they find their artists, who range from sculpture to painting to works on paper and everything in between, RD tells us their artists come from many avenues; word of mouth from friends, colleagues and fellow artists. “It’s all about your network, just like anything. But we are always open to new work that speaks to us and would appeal to our clients.”

“Somewhere in the middle of that Venn diagram of ‘will it sell’ and ‘do we love it’ is what we’re looking for. After all, a gallery has to be solvent. We can’t do any good for our artists if we don’t make enough money to sustain our business.”

It’s always a struggle to maintain a quality program with diverse work while also creating opportunities for those works to be seen. Which of course, costs money. Maximum exposure for their artists while staying solvent has been the focus for Decorazon Gallery these past six years. In 2013, the two embarked on a new gallery model: rather than maintain a physical gallery space, Decorazon would travel from art fair to art fair, presenting their program to the world. 

“Travel has always been a driving factor in my life. Seeing the far-reaching corners of the world and experiencing new cultures is what inspires me and motivates me more than anything else,” says RD. “When we were burdened with maintaining a flagship gallery, we were always afraid we were missing out on whatever might be happening in other parts of the world. It made sense at the time and thus far has been the right move for us. Because our program is so full of artists with diverse backgrounds, and our collectors are from all over, the appeal for our artists has always been very international, not specific to any one location. It just made more sense to take that sensibility and apply it to our exhibition model.”

It’s a model that more and more dealers have shifted to in a progressively global economy. Real estate is expensive and permanent locations are much too localized- which is often limiting- with the artworld’s clientele increasingly international. Whereas technology allows for many transactions to happen online, initial exposure is still key and often the first step in building collector relationships. Art fairs offer the chance to show work to large audiences and their transient nature allows the freedom to pack up and move onto the next thing. But the fairs present their own set of challenges. 

“Everything has become more expensive- booth rental, promotion, shipping. The costs have all gone up a lot over the years. But Art Fairs are like an addiction— it’s a gamble, for good and for bad.  You just never know: you may have a good return, or you may just break even. Sometimes you take a hit. Plus, they’re exhausting. But, most of the time it’s worth it. Even after all these years, they still excite me. You never know who will stumble into your booth. When a new person connects with the works we show, which we’re both so personally and financially invested in – I live for those moments. It’s through that mutual love of a piece of art that we feel connected to others.”

As for what’s next for Decorazon Gallery, they’ve got another year jam-packed full of art fairs, exhibitions, and projects. Beyond that, RD says, “ Who knows, the future is always on the horizon, and change is the only constant. What that looks like exactly is hard to say, but we’re focused on the bend and invested in the future of our artists. Each artist has their own trajectory and we can’t wait to see through on their destinies and help in whatever way we can.” 

When asked what advice RD would offer emerging artists:

“Perseverance is key: opportunity truly is talent meets preparedness. Work on your craft. Make goals and connect with people. Keep your mind clear. Stay focused. Be prepared, and get yourself out there where those opportunities are waiting for you.”

Artists, what goals do you have? Share your plans for preparedness and what opportunities you’re gunning for in the comments below!

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