Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another vanity gallery

I got an email the other day from a gallery in Montreal offering me a show. At first I was excited, but then confused because I couldn't remember sending any proposals to any galleries in Canada. After reading further into the email, I realized that they were just trolling the web, looking for artists to invite to have shows in their space - charging them lots of money for the privilege, of course.

Here are some highlights from the email:

ATT: Deanna Wood

We have viewed your work and would like to offer you an opportunity for an exhibition of your work in Montreal, for the year 2007/2008. Please find below the "Terms and conditions".
Visit the gallery website for additional information:


1. Eligibility and Application Procedure
Gallery Gora invites you to exhibit in a solo or in a group exhibition.
Selections are made solely on the basis of artists' portfolios.
Please send to the gallery:
- Completed and signed application (see page 4)
- International bank/postal money order or bank transfer (see
"deposit" paragraph 3)
You will then receive a confirmation, an exhibition date and other related information.

2. Duration of Exhibition
The exhibition runs for a minimum of 3 weeks (at least 19 opening days, not including setup and take down time).

3. Exhibition Fee
A - Solo Exhibition
- Each artist can have up to 20 pieces of work depending on size
- The fee for a solo exhibition is US $2,400.00 to cover gallery expenses
- The gallery takes a 10% commission during the 3 week exhibition
- A deposit (25% of the total fee) is paid together with the application.
- The balance of the fee is payable 5 weeks prior to the exhibition date. The deposit is refundable in full if Gallery Gora cancels the exhibition.

B - Group exhibition
- The fee to take part in a group exhibition is US $250.00 for first work and US $150.00 for each additional work.
- The number of artists in a group show depends on the total number of works. The width of each work should not exceed 4ft or it will be counted as two works.

Exhibition fees cover furthermore:

Advertising and public relations
- Mention of the show in all weekly newspaper arts calendars in Montreal (when possible)
- A press release including an invitation to the exhibition e-mailed to a list of contacts (over 10,000) 1 week prior to the opening. Our contacts include the press, curators, critics, dealers, consultants and corporations, as well as a larger body of public members and buyers. If artists supply us with additional e-mail lists, we will forward the invitation to these addresses as well.
- Full colour invitation cards. If we are provided with a postal mailing list of addresses within Canada, these cards will be sent out free of charge.
Other advertising options are available at extra cost (see application form)

- On the evening of the exhibition's opening, the gallery will welcome guests with wine and other beverages.
- Gallery staff will be at hand to receive visitors throughout the exhibition and to organize corporate/cultural events and receptions whenever possible, whether the artists choose or not to be present at the show.

4. Commissions
- Gallery Gora takes a 10% commission on sales during the 3 week exhibition.
- All money due will be sent to you within 10 days of the sale.

5. Shipping
Artists are responsible for all shipping fees and procedures to and from the gallery door.

Yikes! $2400! That seems crazy. But apparently artists are willing to pay. They have a ton of artists listed on their website.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. Would you pay $2400, pay to ship your work, let them take a 10% commission on any sales, and then pay to ship the unsold work back to you?


Karen Jacobs said...

Expect to receive many more 'invites' from them before they give up on you. I finally just labeled them 'junk' or 'spam' and finally they faded away. KJ

Angela Wales Rockett said...

Yikes! No!

Anonymous said...

Gosh they are awful ... I just keep on getting similar blurbs from 'virtual' galleries. Its so maddening.

just wish some real, nice, INTERESTED gallery would contact me ... not these blood-suckers!

Don't ever be tempted!

Deanna said...

Yes, I decided after I received my first letter from a vanity gallery that I would never pay a fee to exhibit my work. It's bad enough to have to pay the fees to enter juried shows and then ship your work to shows or galleries... I guess it works for some artists. It's not for me, though.

Walker said...

from a differing point of view:
Don't be hasty to delete mail that looks suspicious on first glance. I have gotten so cynical that if an email has a certain look to it I hit the delete key.
So of course what happened is that I deleted an email from an interested buyer - who luckily contacted me again and made the sale!

Anonymous said...

There's absolutely no way I'd do this, it's completely insane. I paid to be in one show straight out of college but it was a hell of a lot less than this and even then I wouldn't do it again. Very occasionally I'll pay small fees to apply for exhibitions but they have to be in pretty impressive galleries.

Rebecca Finch said...

After giving them your HUGE payment, what would be in it for them to advertise or work up any type of exposure for your show if they're only getting 10% comission? I'm sure you would have to do all of that yourself, too. They've already been paid. . .by YOU.

It's sad, though, I'm sure some artists go for it otherwise all vanity galleries would die off. Too bad.

Run Away!

barbe said...

I get those all the time too.. really sucks that those kind of people try to take advantage of others.

Chris Ousley said...

Tell 'em to go to hell! HA!

zane said...

Yup, I have recieved that one too. Also have been recieving stuff from Art Haven International. Have you heard of them? Kind of strange too.

Anonymous said...

save your time and your money - particularly with gallery gora.

Anonymous said...

don't get gored by joesph gora !

Anonymous said...

that the city montreal provides support to this predator continues to amaze us. gora even gives vanity gallery a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Play to display "Vanity Galleries" make suckers out of desperate artists. Everyone in the art world knows them, you aren't gaining points by dealing with them. Fee paying artists are their major income source. Artists-Never deal with these hustlers,they are no good.
-A painter.

Anonymous said...

...i just got the exact same email!!! bummer... xk

Anonymous said...

...last month i recieved a similar email from the brick lane gallery in london's east end... i actually seriously considered it until i spoke to a few established artists who offered some good advise; no decent gallery would ask you to pay for an exhibition! maybe our time will come... good luck! xk

Anonymous said...

I just got the same email, except for the 2009/2010. Glad I ran across your post! So frustrating.

Anonymous said...

i also have just received this exact email (and also one from the brick lane gallery).

very sneaky and mean!

Anonymous said...

just got contacted myself. found this after doing some background on them...then i read the terms and fees- craziness. looks like they have a lot of artists, did they all pay fees like that initially?

Anonymous said...

Got the same for 2009/10

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thanks for the info I just got an email from gora gallery and another one ICO gallery in new york and APW gallery.Iam going to delete them all

Anonymous said...

What you don't realize is that running a gallery is a BUSINESS, and there are expenses. If you had a full list of patrons and a CONFIRMED sales track, you'd be able to show anywhere in the world free of charge. If you're NOT going to sell paintings, a gallery still needs to pay its operating expenses. Upcoming artist need to gain EXPOSURE before anyone will buy their paintings.

If you are a NOBODY, no gallery will show your work. Show me a list of patrons who regularly BUY your work, and I'd invest into your career. It costs upwards of $40,000 a month to run a commercial gallery. If a gallery only showed UPCOMING artists with no fees, they would go out of business. My gallery shows one established artist a month, and has a few unknown artists.

If I ONLY made $20,000 from the established artist, I'd be $20,000 in the hole EVERY MONTH. Why should I take that burden to promote your art. PLEASE EXPLAIN THE LOGIC BEHIND THAT!

You are DELUSIONAL if you think that I'm going to go broke promoting you for no financial reward!

You folks need to reevaluate the BUSINESS that you have chosen. When I go to Red Dot or Art Miami, I have to pay upwards of $20,000. EVERYONE has to pay to show work! You need to join the real world. A gallery falling in love with your art and selling out of an UNKNOWN's paintings is a fantasy. It doesn't happen. You need to be FAMOUS before you make money as an artist, or you can paint "hotel paintings" and sell them for $1,000 a piece. The choice is yours...

Deanna said...

I completely understand that running a gallery is a business and that rent and other expenses are very high. That's why I'm more than happy to get a 50% commission on the sale of my work.

I don't expect anyone to promote me without any financial gain. I've chosen to work with galleries on a consignment basis and that's working fine for me.

I know plenty of other delusional artists who don't pay to show their work and they're doing OK, too. Many of them are making money and are not even FAMOUS.

Anonymous said...

Not all galleries that ask for a fee upfront are a rip off. Particularly if they are providing tangible services to the artist in exchange. Such as a 3rd party review or printed materials for an artists portfolio. Galleries who print and mail physical material to clients and ask to be compensated for that services are not being unreasonable. If you feel thats unfair simply decide not to show. My point is this, 90% of prime retail ground floor galleries are compensated in many ways other than the sale of artworks. Some of these things include ad resale (gallery buys it cheap and sells it at a higher price point), catalogue resale, (again gallery buys it cheap and marks it up). These galleries are not unreasonable, they spend probably around 100,000 in the beginning of the year to buy in bulk so that they can offer better deals or advertise core artists more affordably. The best part of all this is I see artist sign with agents all the time who do this exact same thing but never guarantee any exhibitions or exposure!

Deanna said...

I understand that there are many types of galleries and they all have different guidelines and practices.

It is up to each artist to do what is best for his or her career and to find galleries that they trust.

I have chosen to work with galleries that do not charge me a fee to show my work and that take care of their own advertising and marketing.

Anonymous said...

I got the same letter from Gora Gallery....glad to read all these comments, after checking the way they work I think they are actual trash

byrononeal said...

I'm loving the dialogue here. I got an invite from them myself. I'm not going to throw stones at galleries who want you to pay to play or artists who choose to do it. Everyone markets themselves in different ways. I personally don't want to be involved in this type of business model but to each their own. I am not starving and will wait for the right fit. Perhaps the traditional gallery model just isn't optimal any longer.

I'm having more success the farther I get away from suggested artist career models.

Juhli Caldwell / Mark Redsky said...

Thank you so much for running this blog! I just had an invite from Gallery Gora.

A gallery needs to have enough confidence in the artist that they will invest in the artist first instead of the other way around.

Paul Baines said...

Yep just got one myself today. $2500 is basically b.s - offering nothing of any value at an extortionate price. It's not like most emerging artists have any money - this is the lowest of the low. Another one for the spam folder

vinnylondon said... I got the letter, have alook at my site and you tell me if I'm ready for an exhibition, it needs a complete overhaul as I have put everything up there even the bad stuff. I cant see any gallery wanting to exhibit that.

I to got excited like a little kid and my candy taken away.

I had to research this Gora and thanks for the heads up. I get to keep the Candy whoo whoo.....

michael said...

Good to see this discussion. I just got an invite for $2700 so the price is going up.

Anonymous said...

i received this email a few days ago for 2010/11 asking for $2700. At first excited, but also confused and definitely do not have the funds to put forth, including shipping the work and air fare. It would be interesting to know if there is any one out there that has had hands on experience with this gallery.

Anonymous said...

I just had one sent to me at the same time. I am represented here in the US and I didn't have to pay for that. Here is the deal, it costs artists a lot of money for a show too. They are both risky things. My latest show that opened cost me $7500 to make my art pieces. If the gallery is not willing to take on the same risk that I am, it's NOT WORTH IT. You will get your break and find representation/someone to beleive in you without paying $2700 on top of everything else. This place also rents their rooms for parties and weddings. It's just unprofessional what they are asking. The burden of the cost of your own work and taking on the expenses if they damage it is enough of anyone to ask. What they want is to make money, get amazing artists, and rent there spaces so they get amazing reputation, income, art, press, and more without actually investing in it. I think this gallery took a page out of greedy capitalism if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

P.S. "A Gallery Owner" is wrong. I was an unknown and got represented and SOLD MANY THINGS. It does happen, it has to happen, that is how this system works. You're just unsuccessful in that kind of work. If you cannot sell emerging artists, you aren't good at being a gallery owner. If I was famous before I got represented, I would have taken the full commission and sold out of my studio. We live in a new world of connectivity, I can promote myself and make sales without you. If you want a commission and a relationship, we can talk about a fair deal where we are both investing. If you aren't into investing in artists, it sounds like you'd be good selling cars or working in a consultation job where you get money for telling people why they should be paying you.

Anonymous said...

Nobody in the art world or art business takes vanity galleries seriously. You will gain zero credibility if you deal with them. It is the visual equivalent of authors paying stupid money to have their book 'published' by some vanity publisher and end up with a thousand copies unsold and other the author's bed! Vanity galleries have no interest in showing good art, only the upfront money from the gullible and the desperate. Take heart and don't be fooled. If your work is really good and original you WILL eventually find proper gallery interest. It might take a while but be persistent with the right people, and do the research! Vanity galleries simply prey on people's impatience to get noticed but it's all just fairy dust and fool's gold folks! Good things come to those who wait ( and work hard!)

MadZoner said...

I just received an email from Gora as well. Before I got all excited I wanted to find out as much about this type of thing before I even considered it any further. I am glad to have found this site and this discussion.

While I have no problem with a gallery canvassing unknown artists and charging a fee to display work (we gotta get shown somehow) I was curious as to where they "...viewed my work" as I am on many different sites, and each site has different styles. I relpied asking them where they have seen my work. I have yet to get a response.

Again, if they are canvassing artists I am all for it.. but if they are trolling the web and sending out THE EXACT SAME EMAIL to eveyone.. well then I know I am not so special as to have been 'discovered' lol.

And for the record.. the prices have gone up to display this year hahaha

Rosalie said...

Great that I stumbled onto this site. I am really enjoying the comments. I was wondering if anyone had experience with London's Brick Lane Gallery?

Anonymous said...

GALLERIE GORA in Montreal is an absolute waste of time and money. The owner, Mr,. Joseph Gora, is a womanizer and scammer. DSo not deal with him. He rips off people, uses people for free work, and just plain stinks. Ignore these kind of people and places.

Artist for Life

Lynnette Shelley said...

I just came across this blog. I too get hit up all the time by "vanity" galleries. I have been working professionally as an artist for over three years now. I've never paid to play other than jury fees. True, it will be difficult to get into galleries when you are new. I started off showing at cafes, restaurants, and other non gallery spaces until I got the attention of some area galleries. I participate in gallery group shows and now, though still always looking for bigger and better shows, I show at galleries regularly. DO NOT work with a pay to play gallery. If they need to charge for you to show then they do not have the client base that will buy art and you are wasting your money. Also, FWIW, many artist like me sell more work on their own than through the gallery system. It costs me money to frame my artwork and buy art supplies for each show, it's the cost of doing business. Just like it's the cost of the galleries business to pay their own rent.

An Intern at a "vanity" gallery said...

An intern at a so-called "vanity-gallery"

I have been interning at a gallery that requires artists to pay a fee to exhibit their work. But the deal is great, there's a certain percentage that the gallery takes and it's not much compared to others. And as an intern who's job is to mainly do artist-research, I have been in touch with artists personally, sometimes with my own personal e-mail, carried out a conversation asking what they want to do, and told them that if they have a preference, to either work in a group or as a solo exhibition and what dates, etc. And then when they want all the information, I send them the contract which is basically a standard message that every artist gets. It's not impersonal and we do get to know the artists before we send them the contracts. Well, that's how it is now, so don't diss "vanity" galleries. Some of them may have improved.

Deanna said...

I'm not opposed to the idea of a gallery asking for a fee to exhibit work. It's up to the artist to do research and decide if the gallery and what they offer are a good fit for him/her. I would suggest looking on the gallery's website and contacting a few artists who have exhibited there - find the artist's email (usually on their website), and ask them about their experience. I've done this a few times concerning galleries and artist's publications and I'm glad I did.

CJY said...

They are still at it!

Rosemary said...

I just got an email from Camden Art Gallery in
Does anyone have any info or experience with them?
It appears to be a vanity gallery but I can't find anything on the internet about them other than their website. I also can't find anything on their website about the cost to exhibit, etc. Thanks

vijayan kannampilly said...

i am an artist who works from cochin and delhi in india. when this gallery contacted me some years ago i made the following counter-proposal:
1. you bear all the expenses upfront;
2. after the exhibition ends minus all the expenses you have incurred plus a sales commission before settling with me.
i was not surprised that they didn't reply!

Tatiana L.Sougakova said...

Thank you for this discussion. I just received and email from Brick Lane Gallery in London. I understand there are people who might benefit from something like that. I can not imagine there are too many of them. Personally, I do not even pay any juried exhibition fees. So it is a NO for me.

Anonymous said...

' 2,500 for '3 weeks exibition' ? That is hilarious. one could open their own gallery starting off with that kind of investment.