John Haber, who writes one of the web's very best sources for solid art criticism at John Haber's Art Reviews, interviewed me recently about some of the topics in my book (How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery), and it's out now in this month's Artillery magazine. It includes a photo I most definitely need to rethink (or just keep on hand should I ever need a mug shot), but it was a really fun interview, forcing me to dig a bit deeper about a few of my central assertions throughout the book. Here's a snippet:
[JH]: One thing comes up over and over, from the very first chapters through the details of raising money. I mean, the importance of a profile, a statement of what makes this gallery unique. Why is it so important?John notes that a fuller version of the interview will also post later on his own site, within a post that reviews the book itself. Here's a snippet of John's response to my efforts:
[EW]: It's not that important to the casual visitor, I'm sure. It's more important in helping guide a business owner through the tricky decisions that present themselves daily. Should I advertise in a photography magazine or a more general fine art magazine? It depends on the type of photography I'm talking about. If it's highly conceptual, then the photography magazine audience might not be a good investment. Even if it brings in a group to see that one show, unless I have other work that interests them, I'll probably have overspent for that ad. Knowing your program should guide which fairs you apply to, how you design your Web site, et cetera.
The book makes a practical statement just by its organization. After a brief, lively, and personal history of the profession, it gets very much down to business. Chapters give extensive space to the details of capitalization and cash flow, location and logistics. Aspiring dealers may dream most of discovering the next hot artist. And two late chapters do discuss where to find and keep both artists and collectors. First, however, there is work to do.A big blog Thank You to John for both, the review and the interview.
The work starts with some things that one might overlook entirely. Early chapters insist on defining your program, your markets, and your business plan. The last of those, laid out with especial care, will run longer than my own best business proposals. (Confession: in my other life, I am a publishing professional.) Who knew that one could plan for so much money going down the toilet? With luck, at least some of it will resume a steadier and more hygienic flow.
One may find the book—and the business of a gallery—daunting in another way as well. Chapters run methodically through the options, including the many different art fairs and publicity channels. They even quote hard numbers, although these, too, may date in no time. Winkleman does not, however, even try to make the tough decisions for others. There are too many galleries. There is also, he implies, no secret to success.