I was contacted by Valentyna Visir from the Agora Gallery in New York, saying she likes my work and asking if she can send me more information. I checked it out and, bottom line, it’s a vanity gallery. Their “representation options” start at $3,850, with even higher figures if you use their promotion services. They also take a 30% commission on sales. With a brief google search I found a few artists who felt it was a good value, but many who feel it’s a scam. I’ve decided to steer clear. Thoughts?
It should be a strictly business decision, so let’s see. The most expensive painting on your site is $400. Double that and say you show paintings there for $800. On each sale your 70% would be $560. So before making a dime, you would have to sell seven paintings just to pay off their “representation fee”-- which would go even higher when they try to convince you to buy some actual promotion.
Galleries are supposed to pay the artist, not vice versa. IMO Vanity galleies like this prey on the desperate, vulnerable or ignorant, and working with one is like announcing to the world (and to other galleries!) that this is what you are. If I sound harsh, it’s because I don’t like predators.
That said, I know someone in Sacramento who once showed with Agora and claims he sold work. However, I don’t know whether or not that means he ever saw any actual profit, and as far as I can tell, being able to say he was a “New York artist” in that venue did nothing to advance his struggling career.
One more thought: When most reputable galleries are flooded with requests from artists seeking representation, why is this one soliciting unknown artists?
You make excellent points, Connie. I agree with your analysis. Just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something I was missing.
I was solicited too…kindly declined. The last thing I want to do is to pay a gallery for representation.
We’re on the same page, Cindy. Thanks!
I was also approached by Agora a while ago. Lucky for me I ignored them.
I’m ignoring them too, Gary. It’s a wonder they find anyone willing to fall for their scheme. I notice on their website they even have the nerve to charge artists a $50 fee just for a "portfolio review. " Ridiculous.
Wise words Connie, thank you.
Most of the phish don’t bite but it only takes a few.
Glad to see this topic being discussed. I was approached by Agora and ignored them but they kept contacting me with more insistent emails. I finally told them that I was not interested and thankfully, they seem to have stopped attempts to get a response. My next step will be to identify them as spam on gmail and just let them go right to that folder!
She wrote me, too. I googled and on various forums found that a vanity gallery does not really look good on your resume, if you are concerned about those types of things. Also, I plan on not working with galleries until much later in the future, if at all. I’m going to try to build my business locally and online where I control everything and also keep most of my profits.
I have been contacted a few times by them. I just delete the emails. It would be taking something away from the value and the integrity of my art by doing that!
I agree with you, Kaethe.
I have been contacted by them, too, but saw the fee…Interestingly, this came into my mailbox today:
Good point, Elizabeth. I’m guessing the people who buy into the Agora Gallery think it will look good on their resume that they’ve been in a New York gallery, without realizing its negative reputation as a vanity gallery.
Thanks for sharing this timely link, Elizabeth. I find it interesting that this artist describes a generally positive experience, but mentions only one sale. That painting would have had to sport a pretty hefty price tag to result in a profit for this artist after subtracting the almost $4,000 gallery fee and 30% commission.
Yeah, not defending it, just found the link timely and interesting. There is more negative stuff online about them than positive.
I do NOT like however reading that ‘the art world looks down on this’. I sometimes look at stuff ‘the art world’ is selling for thousands of dollars and it’s just plain ugly. So bottom line, it comes down to how you think you can find YOUR buyers. And exposure is exposure. But Agora is pretty pricey.
My thoughts exactly, Nancy. If she lost money or just broke even, that’s a pretty hefty price for whatever future promotional value she got. After having an an illustration rep for several years, I was advised by a very successful illustrator to calculate the ratio of the cost of working with the rep (her commissions and required ads) to what I earned from her sales. Turns out that the cost of every dollar I made with her was far too high to be considered a good model for any business. And for me, it was not offset by any perceived “prestige” of working with a national rep.
I have not been approached and doubt if I will be. The question interested me because of the recent Newsletter from The Painter’s Keys sent by Sara Genn.
I also read the newsletter with interest on Painter’s Keys and I have received an email from them. I didn’t wish to go down that route with my work.