Marcel Talks: Highlights from Lauren Marinaro
May 31, 2019
Last week we had our second installment of MarcelTalks featuring Gallerist Lauren Marinaro. Marinaro founded her own gallery space in New York’s Lower East Side in 2017 and was previously Director of Zach Feuer Gallery for 8 years. She shows work by Ridley Howard, Johannes VanDerBeek and Jane Corrigan among others. She was previously an adjunct professor at New York University. She answered participant’s questions about the artist-gallerist relationship, how to get noticed by galleries, networking, Instagram as an artist, and a whole lot more during our Q&A. Read on to see what Lauren shared with artists.
How do I get noticed by gallerists and what are the dos and don’ts of reaching out to gallerists?
Marinaro: Instagram has been a great tool for artists to help you be seen by a large community and meet other artists. Hashtags are a good way to get yourself started in a space. I’m much more likely to look at an artist that a collector has told me about. I think you should DM artists and build relationships that way. I’ve had artists curate shows at my gallery and they have discovered other artists through networking. Even if you’re not in a major city, it’s a good way to get your work seen and out there.
Unsolicited emails to galleries can sometimes work. You must know the gallery you are submitting your art to. Don’t randomly show your work to all galleries in a specific city. Write a short message, a link to your site or instagram, and add one image. Every now and then someone might see your work. Try for younger galleries
What is the actual relationship between a gallerists and an artist?
Marinaro: The gallery represents an artist (takes care of their work, ships, holds on to archives). Galleries generally do a 50/50 split. You typically have a show every other year. The whole client base of the gallery is accessible to you and sells to their clients, art fairs, etc. Work generally sells after the show ends.
How does the slower market of art sales work for you?
Marinaro: When I’m entering into a relationship I think if it’s going to benefit me as well as the artist. Will I be able to get some notoriety for them, set up a tent for a show, etc. I always want to show the best show but if I know the show isn’t going to be huge, I try to take more risks and try something new.
How do you choose your artists?
Marinaro: I like seeing passion and innovation, dedication to their practice, different ideas and research. I really like storytelling and knowing that “it” came from somewhere.
You just came back from Frieze Art Fair. What should an artist do at an art fair?
Marinaro: Artists should NOT approach gallerists at art fairs. Each gallery pays for a booth and their goal is to make connections for the artists and make sales. It’s very important to be aware of the surroundings and if you try to engage in a long conversation, you’re taking away their opportunity to sell. An art fair is not the time to speak with a gallerist.
Is it career suicide to leave New York?
Marinaro: If you have instagram, have a network, if you come visit every few months, a lot of people won’t even realize you left. The only thing is studio visits may be different but there are alternative options. There is a possibility of NOT living in a major metropolitan area and still being successful.
What protocols should artists take if they want to show their work through multiple galleries? Is it customary for artists to split the discount?
Marinaro: I think it’s good if you’re not represented at the time to do as much as you can. If you are able to show at multiple galleries, it looks good. If you’re going to be in a group show, find out what the discount is ahead of time. Talk about your terms ahead of time. It’s playing the field and gaining exposure through many different places at once. A split is standard as this is part of the buyer-seller relationship. Normally it’s 10% but if it is above this, it’s something to discuss ahead of time so you’re not shocked if there is all of a sudden 20%.
Mae Petra-Wong: Gallerists have a lot on their plates. They’re managing multiple artists and they may forget to mention certain things. It’s important to have these business conversations so that you know what’s happening later down the line, especially when it comes to pricing and discounts. You should feel empowered to have that conversation.
Is it good for artists to have access to who collects their work through a gallery and how to get that information if a sale has been made?
Marinaro: If a gallery won’t tell you and you end up splitting with a gallery and you have none of your information, it’s important to ask for the install images, along with sales and collector information at the end of the show. You have to remember you are a sole proprietor as an artist. It’s so important to have a place like Marcel that stores all of the information you’re looking for from a piece you created and sold 10 years ago.
How important is the MFA vs a BFA and what do you look at first?
Marinaro: An MFA is not a prerequisite. I would tell people not to spend $50,000 on an MFA right now. There can be benefits. In my opinion if you want to get one so you can teach-go to Hunter or Queens College-look for the least expensive program you can so that you can teach while working on your art. I don’t necessarily look for artists with an MFA. I would show a new artist who has been in a few group shows, even if they were smaller.
Do artists focus on making their work full-time?
Marinaro: No, most artists have other things on the side even though they are represented by galleries. It doesn’t mean you haven’t “made it” since you have other work to support yourself. You’re an artist and dedicated to what you’re making, and that blows me away.
How many images should you share with a gallery?
Marinaro: One image is more than enough.
Should an artist who is selling well with one gallery be able to help the artist sell at other galleries in different cities?
Marinaro: Yes, this is possible since the art world is a traveling circus and you see people around the world. It shouldn’t be expected, but it’s important if you’re trying to get in to other cities.
Is it realistic to think you can get into the New York art scene if you don’t live there?
Marinaro: Is it difficult-yes? Is it impossible-no. If you have a network of people from New York, it’s important to maintain the relationships you’ve already established and they can help introduce you to relevant people. All it takes is a few right meetings to turn into something bigger.
Do gallerists help artists price their works?
Marinaro: Generally there are protocols. Even your first show at my own gallery, there is a standard pricing to start. Once you go up in price, it’s hard to go back down, so I do this at a slower increase. There are a few factors including size and each gallery has their own standard. If you are just starting to show, the price will obviously be lower.
How does the value of artwork change over time?
Marinaro: If you have a show that sold well, it means more people will continue to support. But quadrupling the price wouldn’t be the way to go. Your art will sell because of word of mouth from the buyers and people who have hung your work in their homes.
Any art fairs that we should go to or stay away from?
Marinaro: It’s personal to decide which art fairs are best for you. Basel Switzerland would be the highest level but it depends what your goals are and if you’re able to infiltrate the art market first in your own area through local galleries.
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