How to Scale Your Small Gallery

Partnering with Erin Schuppert, Affordable Art Fair New York Director, to give small galleries expert advice on how to scale
4 minutes to read

Small galleries are the driving force in the arts ecosystem: introducing emerging artists, cultivating new collectors, and maintaining the creative culture throughout towns and cities worldwide. However, due to challenges like high rental costs, working with limited budgets and resources, scaling a small gallery can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task.

We understand the challenges small galleries face. In a recent webinar, we partnered with Erin Schuppert, Affordable Art Fair New York Director, to give you expert advice on scaling your gallery with ease. Here are the key takeaways:

1. Extend your brand with a website

“Your website is an extension of your gallery, an extension of your brand. Your website is often your first touch point with collectors and isa chance for a good first impression.” Erin Schuppert

Ensure that your website is professional by being easily navigable. For example, set up your artists’ page in alphabetical order, or set up a View on a Wall to show your visitors and potential collectors the scale of artworks on offer. Also, make sure your site is well organized and updated regularly so relevant, easy to digest information is displayed. Browse website examples.

2. Engage with collectors via email

“Making the audience feel a part of your community is really important.” Erin Schuppert

Explore email marketing tactics like newsletters about upcoming exhibitions to introduce your artists to your collector database. Utilize social media channels and content to showcase a ‘behind the scenes’ look of the artist/studio, this allows your audience to feel part of the journey, generating deeper engagement with the works.

And, don’t forget, for many collectors viewing art is a social activity. Hosting events at the gallery, including show openings, VIP only evenings, and exclusive artist talks, is a great way to deepen your connection with collectors and broaden your reach to new audiences.

3. Participate in art fairs 

“More than 20% of sales are reportedly made at art fairs, and if small galleries are missing out on that, that's a huge opportunity missed.” Erin Schuppert

Consider applying for and taking part in art fairs both internationally and locally. Art fairs that have lower application fees, such as Affordable Art Fair, Future Fair and New Art Dealers Alliance, are good places to start. However, you might also want to consider building up to apply for bigger-budget fairs such as Frieze and The Armory Show.

Affordable art fair
4.  Inspire collectors with your collection at your fingertips

Art fairs will expose your gallery to a very high footfall of collectors and appreciators alike; this can be overwhelming if you’re used to dealing with a smaller, more intimate crowd. It’s important that, when presenting works to a collector, you have the right information in front of you to ensure your best chance of securing the sale. The best way to do this is via an Inventory Management System on an app or device that contains all of the key details for any work, and provides key talking points so that your pitch is confident and slick.

“If you have a really great inventory management system in place, you will have everything that is available to show that collector at your fingertips. This information will keep them engaged in conversation at your booth: the longer you keep them in the booth the more likely you are to make that sale at the end of the day.” Erin Schuppert. 

5. Take a hybrid approach

Many galleries are adopting a digital-first approach whereby websites and ecommerce play a crucial role in their strategy. Getting creative with how a program is portrayed both physically and digitally is a strong approach, and many galleries are maximising the opportunity that fairs afford to create a physical show, whilst operating predominantly online the rest of the time: “this hybrid approach has been really interesting to see”. Artlogic client Kittoe Contemporary has really embraced the hybrid method, read how they’ve made it a success.

Watch Secrets to Scaling Your Small Gallery

Images courtesy of Affordable Art Fair New York

March 21, 2024