How can you predict how an art gallery will treat its artists? How do you know if your gallery is a bad art gallery? Here are a few agreed-upon signs that your gallery is trying to do you dirty. I've been in the biz a little while and heard some truly outrageous stories of galleries being unfair and duplicitous towards their artists. On the flip side I know a few artists who haven't been that "up-front" in their dealings with galleries.
From what I have researched and heard it is agreed, however, that the following signs are red flags for artists who are trying to do business with their galleries in a honest and fair way.
1. Delay in payment.
No excuses work here. If you have a contract stating when you should be paid and they are in breech of that then they need to pay immediately. Switch from email to phone calls when you need to get paid. They need to know that you aren't going to let them get away with the delay. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Galleries go out of business all the time - keep that in mind and get the dang money.
2. Overly self-important attitude
To clarify - I am talking about behaviour and communication that subtly puts the artist below the importance of the gallery. This can be making certain decisions without your input ie. we decided to hang all the art uspide down because we liked it better that way. Or feigning agreement with you and then changing their minds later and acting accordingly. This kind of attitude makes artists not want to participate in the business of selling their art with the gallery. It's a shame.
3. Vague or non-responsive
I want to know where my work is at all times. If I can't call my gallery and verify that the work is there I will be super angry. I know of a gallery that rented out their artists work, made a profit and when the artist found out they still refused to pay the artist. This is why galleries need to be accountable for your inventory. When a gallery sends me a quick email response or calls me back with info that I require for my business then I feel respected and trust grows.