How galleries help artists – Tim Marlow

Tim Marlow is both an experienced art historian, broadcaster, former Director with the renowned London art gallery, the White Cube (and now Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts in London).

Back in 2014, he takes 6 minutes to give his advice on UK artists wanting to ‘make it’ – and how a gallery might help, in his trademark intelligent, likeable, relaxed way.  (Bear in mind that this advice refers to the British art market.)

Surprising Advice

Don’t sign a contract with a gallery.

He is in the middle of answering a question but breaks his steady pace to say this one piece of advice:

“Never sign a contract with a gallery…. we have no contract with our artists and nor do any of the other major galleries that I know of…. of course there are contracts about consigning certain works – do it fundamentally as far as you can on your own terms as a young artist…. do not sign contracts that give galleries lifelong rights over you. “

He proposes that a good gallery works in the long-term interests of the artists, rather than the short-term interests of the gallery.

He also points out that the YBA (Young British Artists) group (included Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin) initially put on their own shows and made the art world come to them.


What should galleries provide artists?

  1. Good spaces to show their work in
  2. helping institutions outside the gallery to show the artist’s work
  3. career management (regulating prices, getting work placed in best possible collections)
  4. make publications about an artist
  5. where necessary, help facilitate the fabrication of expensive artworks for exhibition
  6. open up a network of contacts and clients (hospitality, parties, publicity)




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