Artist Co-op

I’m wondering about artist co-ops. I’ve been reading about them in several magazines lately and found this article online. I’d like to hear from my readers about what you think?

Do you participate in an artist co-op? Have you started one? What were some of the unseen costs and how were these divided between the artists – split or just a flat rental rate?

If you’re a collector, do you purchase from co-ops? Do you even care if it’s a co-op versus a standard gallery? Or have your purchases moved purely online?

Just some thoughts I’m wondering about. I really want to know what you know.

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8 Responses to Artist Co-op

  1. Liz Crain says:

    Hi Dawn,
    The first gallery I was ever affiliated with was a co-op and I have been hungering for that ever since (30 years.) It was long established and is STILL there. I have to admit I was too green to get what GOLD I had. I am working my way towards something similar right now, but you and the article are right: it is a lot of work…but what else did we expect?

    • dawnblair says:

      Thanks, Liz. My problem is similar – that I might be too green to know what all is involved in running a co-op. While I think it would be interesting, I’d be afraid that I’d get sidetracked from my artistic intent trying to keep one surviving in my area. I appreciate your thoughts on this.

  2. Anne Fraker says:

    Hi Dawn,
    Reading your post takes me back to 16 years ago, when I participated in a newly forming co-op gallery. I remember stressing, wondering whether I would be accepted or not. I was. But being such a new co-op, there were so many strong personalities wanting to assume a leadership role, and it became a huge headache. It didn’t take me long to weigh the plus and minus of being a member. I gave it 6 months, and then dropped out. At the time, my children were still in school and needed me home after school and especially during the weekends. It just wasn’t the right timing or co-op for me. Unfortunately, that co-op eventually fell apart.
    Now that I have no more responsibilities toward my children or adult parents, I would love to become member of an other long standing co-op in my community. But again, I must remember that not all co-ops are alike, some exist mainly to sell art, and others concentrate on mainly showing new art concepts to the community. Also I agree with Liz, it’s a lot of work, but according to one of my best (artist) friend, you can also make great friendships, and renew old contacts.

    • dawnblair says:

      Thanks, Anne. I appreciate your comments. It’s given me something to think about, especially since I have kids in school. Granted, they are getting older.

      I had a friend on Twitter recommend a ‘summer trial’ option – run a co-op during the summer to see how it goes. I really like that idea, though I still may have to modify it somewhat.

      All good thoughts to consider.

  3. Cyd Rust says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I LOVE your site. You really have it set up so nicely. I am probably going to steal ideas. hehe. Regarding co-op galleries. I think it’s important that 1. you all be pretty close friends. 2. That you have some kind of operating system for emergencies…ie life happens. and 3. as a co-op there are liability issues you want to make certain you cover.

    All that being said, if you have a group that really get along, and money isn’t an object…I think they are a blast. Hope it works out for you. 🙂

  4. Pattie Wall says:

    Hi Dawn, I am an associate member of a coop gallery, which in this case means that I work less time and have less involvement than the full members. I get less space on the wall, but pay the same monthly fee and commission on sales. My view and experience has been, those who are working “that” day at the gallery are not interested in selling anyone’s work but their own…so if you aren’t there as much – no sales for you. I am getting ready to give my termination letter…after trying it for 10 months – as what little I have sold outside of the gallery, has been going back into the gallery for fees. Not a win-win situation. I also agree with the above, there can be strong individuals who for one reason or another, think they know what’s best for everyone…you have a couple of individuals like that and it can seem very confusing to someone who isn’t as involved. Too many chiefs, not enough braves. Living far away from this gallery hasn’t helped, but I live in a very rural environment…so I was hungry for this affiliation. Looking forward to having funds available for materials – a welcome change.

    • dawnblair says:

      Thanks, Pattie, for your response. I’d been thinking about joining a co-op in Boise, and I see that I’d really have to think this over as it would put me in your shoes. Do you think that having the co-op in the same town would put you in different circumstances? I’m kind of curious as to what avenues you’ve had success at on your own, if you don’t mind sharing. Has it been art shows? Internet? I’m always curious how people work.

      I wish you the very best success. Good luck.

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