This is a letter I received, please add to the comments if you know this gallery of have more information. This is one letter that came in about them “about a dozen of my colleagues have been in touch with them (Debut Contemporary) as they have a lot of agents lurking around (I think artists are offered discounts if they bring people in) and several of them are suing the owners or thinking of suing them. Their true offer is quite well camouflaged unfortunately. I was told there was a fee of £400 when I met them years ago, which I thought sounded reasonable considering their low commission (20%). It turned out to be £400/week for a “test period” of 3 months 🙂 so I put their emails in the bin. They kept emailing me for about 6 more months.
This gallery was run by Scott Shane of Woodland Hills, CA. It was first called the Visual Arts Gallery and then changed its name to Totally Artistic, Inc. Scott (aka Shane) had a contract drawn up that each artist who paid for a membership, were required to donate a piece of their art to the organization so that Shane could use it to represent them and market their art. When the organization went under about 4 years later, Shane kept all of the art work and never returned it to the artists. He used it to decorate his home in Big Bear and his place in Woodland Hills. Unfortunately, many of the artists were never informed of this and are only now finding out that their work was stolen and the statute of limitations has expired.
AN artist said upfront costs for this gallery were in the thousands, any first hand experience with this gallery? Here is one letter I received about this gallery “One gallery in New York, who tried that game on me, is the Whitney International Gallery in Chelsea (Amsterdam Whitney) , New York. I think you should add them to the list. They had a upfront fee and a contract for $2,500. and 60%
The questionable practice of requiring artists to front money in order to exhibit is not limited to physical galleries. The online world is full of sites that will gladly display photos of your art for a fee. The allure is understandable, and you are certainly not alone if you are compelled to buy in. These sites know how to prey on the need for exposure that all emerging artists feel so strongly. And in this age of internet fame it is easy to believe that a digital gallery could be the answer to your exposure problems. But just like their physical gallery cousins, these vanity websites offer very little at a high cost. Artists fork over their money for the opportunity to have photos of their work sit in a dark corner of the internet with no marketing and no potential for genuine exposure. For ways to find some measure of exposure independently and at no cost, check out our courses and keep an eye on our blog for more information.
There are pay to play galleries everywhere. In LA there are a host of them, and Gallery Godo is surely one. It is important to understand that there are implications beyond the mere handing over of your hard earned cash when it comes to signing with these galleries. Often, having an exhibition in a pay to play is a stain on your artist CV. These venues have grown to have reputations throughout the art world that precede any artist who has dealt with them.
Another New York City venue with a mixed reputation, Ico Gallery offers the same “deal” as the other pay to play places. For an upfront fee, artists are given space to display their work. The gallery is in the habit of sending unsolicited emails just as many other vanity venues do. The emails explain that they have viewed work online and would like to offer a show if the artist is willing to put up the cost at the outset. If you haven’t begun to pick up on the general thread of things by now, let’s be very clear. An artist should never, ever have to pay to display their work. Modest cost sharing for advertising and split commissions are the norm, but overhead costs are not.