How to make money selling art Part 3 (the art manager)
This article was written by Sascha Bailey, Sascha has over 8-years’ experience working in the art as a dealer, manager, artist, curator and gallery owner.
So, you want to manage artists, you’ve come to the right place this is my passion it’s truly what I live for. So, let's answer a few questions first why do you want to manage artists? If it’s just because you want to make money, go to part two of this guide (dealing) managing artists will not make you rich overnight like dealing can it might but it’s not lightly, it is a lot of work and requires a skill set pretty similar to that of a public speaker as my old dad used to say “charm is everything”
So, what are the benefits to managing artists over dealing? Well right off the bat it’s a numbers game you’ve got access to not just one, but like many artists, as you want and you get the work for zero cost you just split the commission. What this means is anyone can start as an art manager with nothing more than confidence you also have a roster of art you can use its kind of like you are all the artists you represent but you get half of the sale money. Managing artist is very low risk you might have to hold a show every now and then but that really falls under curator which I will cover in another article.
What’s the benefit?
Well, other than that mentioned above you don’t have to be an ass to be an art manager you get to work with artists to help them achieve their dreams and make money doing it, I mean who could ask for a more rewarding job. It is a numbers game too you can manage as many artists as you want but in my experience, any more than 15 becomes impossible very fast. Managing artists can be a great hobby as well if the artists are also in the hobby section but are aware that other managers will take them from you as soon as they start selling. In summery managing, artists are low risk, fun and a lot of work but all you need to know is an artist who lacks confidence and you’ve got a business.
What the challenges
The main issues you will face if you decide to take the avenue of manager is convincing people that the artists you represent are the best long-term investment, or as we say in crypto a HODL. The other issue is finding the artists in the first place this couldn’t be easier in the days of Instagram you’ve got millions of artists at your figure tips.
But there is an issue here it’s no good just emailing a bunch of artists you’ve got to have something to offer then you’ve got to have some sort of history. It’s a catch 22 in the most classic sense experience needed, so how do I get the experience? For this, you're going to need one of two things a space you can hold an exhibition in or some money to rent a space. I think you can see where I am going with this, find some family or friends who are artists and hold a show. All you need is one article of press in a local newspaper or some blogs online and you’ve got some standing/weight to contact artists with.
Then you’ve got to sell their work its basically the same as what I covered in the artist part of this series. The main difference being you have as many chances as you have artists to get a show or sale going. The other advantage is that you can talk about the artwork without being too invested in it which means you can sell it harder than if you were the artist, but it also means you will get completely honest feedback which artists seldom get.
The most vital part of being a manager is having your artists trust you and know that you will lead them in the right direction. The artists you work with are both supplier and client at the same time it’s a hard balance to maintain
It’s a bloodbath TLDR
Something that I haven’t touched on really in these articles as it hasn’t been relevant is this the artwork is a shark tank people in this world are ruthless and you have to become so too you are a Sherpa guiding your artists through shark-infested waters your got to bat off, shady dealers, galleries and other managers who are just waiting for that moment of weakness to take the best artists you have and leave you with nothing. Later you may even have to add journalists to that list but that hopefully will only come when you have the funds to deal with it.
so in summery if you want to manage artists you need to be confident and likeable to also willing to work really hard for not much clear reward. The reward can be huge just think one of those artists could be the next Damien Hirst or even better you could get two!