A fine art society is a loosely affiliated group of artists who produce a specific type of art, such as sculpture, drawing, or painting. These organizations may be open to specific types of artists who live in a specific geographic area, to those who create a specific style of fine art, or to anyone who is interested in joining. Most societies have different levels or types of membership fees that correspond to different levels or types of status within the society. A fine art gallery may be owned members of a fine art society, and artists may be required to work a certain number of hours in that member gallery as a condition of membership. Membership in a fine art society may provide benefits in the form of discounts, workshops, fine art conferences, and exhibition opportunities, among other things.
A fine art society’s mission is to promote camaraderie, encouragement, opportunities to learn new skills, and networking among artists. A typical society’s membership may be restricted, allowing members to join only after being referred another established member, having his or her body of work reviewed, or having the reputation and prestige of previous work created and accepted other fine art societies. Some organizations have open membership, which means that anyone can join for a small fee. A fine art group may also recognize different levels of achievement, allowing certain artists to advance to a higher level of recognition. This level of membership attracts accomplished artists who produce higher-quality fine art.
A fine art society or organization is sometimes closely associated with or even owned outright its members. As part of their membership requirements, member artists are sometimes required to work in a fine art gallery. Employees or owners must staff, clean, organize, stock, and maintain a member-owned fine art gallery, just like any other business. The amount of time that member artists devote to the gallery is proportional to the number of members. A reduction or elimination of the standard fine art gallery commission of 40% on each piece of artwork sold could be one of the most significant benefits to members.
Artists who join a fine art society can take advantage of a variety of benefits, including exclusive gallery shows open only to members, discounts on art supplies or framing, and special recognition awards on a local, regional, or national level. The work of an artist is heavily reliant on the recognition and accolades provided membership, as well as the recognition provided other artists, patrons, and collectors. In the fine art world, such recognition is highly valued, and it can help an emerging artist gain notoriety, secure commissions, and increase sales in galleries where his or her work is displayed. Some of the larger fine art societies hold national or international fine art exhibitions, giving relatively unknown artists a lot of exposure for their work. Some fine art societies may also grant members-only access to workshops or seminars led more accomplished, well-known artists.