Working with Galleries | Art is a Real Job

Artists seek gallery representation because it provides them with a platform to reach a wider audience and gain exposure for their work. Galleries offer professional support, guidance, and networking opportunities that can help artists advance their careers, increase their visibility, and facilitate the sale of their artwork.


This panel exchange took place during Art is a Real Job: Working with Galleries on 23 March, 2023. Artists Sam Gold, Nikki Lam and Lisa Sammut discuss gallery-artist relationships with NAVA’s Penelope Benton.


Artist Sam Gold leaning over their work, in white clay, and smiling. Sam has dark hair, glasses and is wearing a brown and black shirt.

Photo: Thomas McCammon

Sam Gold


Sam Gold is a queer and nonbinary South Australian artist living and working on Kaurna Yerta. Sam has become known for pinch-style coiled sculptures and vessels that push the structural and conceptual capacity of clay. Their work materialises a kinship between their physical body, their psychological and emotional self, and the clay body, allowing them to explore states of futility, failure, resilience and grit. Subtle shifts in form, shape and texture produce a somatic archive - “…your body is the only boundary for clay. You are the profile.” Sam is a highly awarded artist and has exhibited widely in South Australia and nationally. They are represented by Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide.

Learn more about Sam

Instagram: @s.amgol.d


Artist-curator Nikki Lam sits with her back to the camera, showing her face looking to the left. She sits in front of a camera mounted on a tripod.

Photo: Leah Jing.

Nikki Lam


Nikki Lam is an artist-curator and producer based in Naarm. Working primarily with moving images, her work explores hybridity and memory through the contemplation on time, space and impermanence. Born in Hong Kong, Nikki’s work deals with the complexity of migratory expressions, with her current research focusing on artistic agency during cultural, social and political transitions, particularly within the context of screen cultures. She is also drawn to relational modes of practice, exploring this in her expanded practice of writing, exhibition and festival making. Nikki's work has been shown widely across Australia and internationally, physically and digitally. She is currently co-director of Hyphenated Projects and Hyphenated Biennial, curator-at-large at The Substation, and is a current PhD (Art) candidate at RMIT University.

Learn more about Nikki


Lisa Sammut sits facing the camera with a slight smile. She wears a black tshirt.

Photo: Jacquie Manning

Lisa Sammut


Lisa Sammut’s practice encompasses sculpture, collage, video and installation. Her playful and poetic works oscillate between notions of cosmic perspective, belonging, connection and time. Lisa has exhibited widely in Australia, undertaking several recent large-scale projects and has completed commissions for both public and private spaces. Her work has also been recognised in several prizes, as well as featured in publications including Artlink, Artist Profile and Art Guide Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours (2012) and Master of Fine Art by Research (2018), both from UNSW Art & Design. Lisa currently lives and works in Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country, Kamberri (Canberra).

Learn more about Lisa

Instagram: @_lisammut_



Gallery-Artist Relationships

The gallery-artist relationships serve as a supportive platform for the career of the artist. The relationship or agreement provides the artist with guidance, mentorship, and opportunities for exposure and success. A successful relationship between an artist and a commercial gallery is mutually beneficial. 

While the artists’ role in the relationship is to create work, the gallery acts as a curator, promoting and showcasing the artist's work through exhibitions, networking events, and connections with collectors and art enthusiasts. They also handle the business aspects of selling artwork, including pricing, marketing, and negotiations, allowing the artist to focus on their creative process. 

Respect, open communication and transparency are the keys to successful artist-gallery relationships. When negotiating arrangements, it is good practice for both artist and gallery to be equal parties to the conversation, willing to commit to the relationship and fully aware of their respective responsibilities.

Read more about working with galleries in the Code of Practice.

Find out more

Discover more about working with galleries in the following Code of Practice chapters:

Find NAVA resources about working with galleries:



In groups, take on the role of both the artist and the gallery by setting up a school-based virtual or physical gallery space that student artists at your school can exhibit in.

Gallery Concept Development

Collaborate to develop a concept and theme for your gallery. Consider the target audience, artistic focus, and unique selling points that will make your gallery stand out. Discuss the types of artworks you would like to showcase and the message or narrative you want to convey through your exhibitions.

Artist Selection and Representation

Choose at least two student artists from your group to represent in the gallery. Explore the artists' portfolios and consider their artistic style, themes, and techniques. Discuss the reasons for selecting these particular artists and how their works complement your gallery's vision.

Representation Agreement Drafting

Draft a representation agreement between your gallery and the selected artists. Consider the responsibilities, rights, and expectations of both parties based on the information provided in the Code of Practice. Address issues such as promotion strategies, exhibition arrangements, and artist-gallery communication. Ensure that the agreement reflects a fair and mutually beneficial collaboration.

Gallery Setup and Exhibition Planning

Plan the layout and design of your virtual or physical gallery space. Consider factors such as lighting, wall arrangements, display options, and interactive elements. Discuss the logistical aspects of setting up the gallery, including artwork installation, labelling, and promotional materials with the represented artists. Develop a timeline and distribute tasks among group members to ensure smooth execution.

Virtual Gallery or Exhibition Opening

Set up and launch your gallery space or host an exhibition opening event. Prepare materials about the artists and their works, and be prepared to discuss your representation agreements and curatorial choices.

About Art is a Real Job

Art is a Real Job was a national program throughout March 2023 that invited artists to share how good industry practice helped shape their careers and navigate the art world with confidence. The program dissected and championed NAVA’s new Code of Practice via four artist-led online events, including workshops, studio tours and panel conversations for secondary school student artists, educators and pre-service educators.

Exhibiting Your Work

Artists Thomas Readett, April Phillips, Tim Meakins

Host Alise Hardy | Support Emma Pham

Hero image artwork Emma Pham

Program Manager Alise Hardy

Ethics and Environmental Responsibility

Artists Annika Romeyn, Carly Tarkari Dodd, Sally Craven

Host Alise Hardy | Support Emma Pham

Hero image artwork Emma Pham

Program Manager Alise Hardy

Working with Galleries

Artists Sam Gold, Nikki Lam, Lisa Sammut

Hosts Penelope Benton, Emma Pham | Support Alise Hardy

Hero image artwork Emma Pham

Program Manager Alise Hardy

Money Matters

Artists Kay Abude, Rachel Burke, Ryan Presley

Hosts Emma Pham, Georgie Cyrillo

Hero image artwork Emma Pham

Program Manager Alise Hardy


Resource written by Alise Hardy.

First published in June 2023 by National Association for the Visual Arts as part of the Art is a Real Job.

Art is a Real Job is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

NAVA logo and Copyright Agency logo in black and white