A fine art society is a group of loosely affiliated artists who typically create a specific category of art like sculpture, drawing, or painting. These organizations can be open to specific types of artists residing in a certain geographic area, to those who create a certain style of fine art, or to anyone who has an interest and wants to join. Most have membership fees corresponding to different levels or types of status within the society. Sometimes a fine art gallery may be owned by the members of a fine art society, and artists may be obligated as members to work a certain number of hours in that member gallery. Membership in a fine art society may provide benefits in a number of ways through various discounts, workshops, fine art conferences, or exhibition opportunities.
The purpose of a fine art society is to foster camaraderie, encouragement, opportunities to learn new skills, and association with other artists. A typical society may have restricted membership and only allow members to join through the referral of another established member, review of his or her body of work, or the reputation and prestige of past work, created and accepted by other fine art societies. Some organizations have open membership and allow anyone to join, usually for a nominal fee. Different levels of accomplishment may also be recognized by a fine art group, allowing certain artists to move up into a special status. The artists at this membership level are quite accomplished and produce a higher quality of fine art.
Sometimes, a fine art society or organization is closely associated or even owned outright by the members of the organization. In this case, member artists are sometimes obligated to work in a fine art gallery as part of membership requirements. Just like any business, a member-owned fine art gallery must be staffed, cleaned, organized, stocked, and maintained by employees or owners. The amount of time given to the gallery by the member artists depends on the number of members. One of the biggest benefits to members may be a reduction or release of the standard fine art gallery commission of 40% on each piece of artwork sold.
There are many benefits for artists who join a fine art society, including exclusive gallery shows that are open to members only, discounts on art supplies or framing, and special recognition awards on a local, regional, or national level. An artist's work relies heavily on the recognition and accolades provided through membership and may also benefit from the recognition given by other artists, patrons, and collectors. That recognition is highly regarded in the fine art world and may propel an emerging artist to fame, help to procure commissions, or boost sales in galleries where his or her artwork is displayed. Some of the larger fine art societies conduct fine art exhibitions on a national or international scale, allowing relatively unknown artists a great deal of exposure for their work. Membership in some fine art societies may also provide members-only access to workshops or seminars conducted by more accomplished, recognized artists.