Occasionally people at shows or in the studio ask how the business of art works. In one sense, I'm not sure how it works, but I know about the arrangements between galleries, shows and artists.
First, to clear up a common misconception, artists don't keep 90% of a gallery sale. Generally we keep 50%. In most cases we pay to frame and ship or deliver the work. The gallery does the sale, collects taxes and pays the artist the arranged percentage after 30 days. If work is returned, it is usually the responsibility of the gallery.
Another occasional misconception is that an artist wanting to do an outdoor show simply calls up and asks to have a space reserved. In truth, he or she has to be juried into the show, paying a fee for that jury process. If accepted, they typically pay between $300-$900, and receive an assigned 10 or 12 square ft. piece of real estate. The artist supplies all materials and equipment to display the art and keeps all proceeds from sales. The artist is responsible for collecting taxes for the state and municipality they sell in and must file as any other business in that jurisdiction. Occasionally a show will charge a nominal fee to the artist to participate, doing the transaction and tax collection, while keeping a percentage of each sale.
I wrote about this once upon a time on this blog but this is the Cliff Notes version.
What's new: Lace of Light, 4o" x 40", oil on canvas