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I've just had a request for gallery representation. I've had these before but they've always been from 'vanity' galleries requiring a costly fee upfront for wall space, something I'm against as they seem to be more interested in getting their fee from the artist than selling the artist's work. This latest request though seems to be based on a genuine appreciation of my work and sales commission only.
Before I proceed further I'd like to ask for input from artists on FAA that are or have been represented by galleries and any pitfalls I need to be aware of. The gallery is based in a large US city in a good location, has been established for over 30 years and is regarded highly (information pulled from 3rd party reviews). Primarily they sell paintings and they now seem to be interested in branching out into fine art photography.
I'm based in Europe so will need to see what the costs involved are in terms of getting my art to them, although they do provide matting and framing services.
Any input/advice anyone can offer would be most appreciated.
whatever the place make sure they have a contract, read it, understand it. see if there is a clause in there if the work is damaged, stolen, etc. i would think that if the gallery wanted your work, they would pay for shipping, but maybe i'm just naive.
No, it's not the Agora 'vanity' gallery Mike. I'm well aware of them and their activities - I've been approached by them a couple of times in the past. They're a prime example of artist beware IMO.
Really I'm wanting to know from anyone currently represented (especially photographers) about what is expected, just so that I'm not walking into it blind. i.e. what does the gallery normally cover, what %age commission is expected, any costs coverage and by whom, etc? I appreciate this may vary from gallery to gallery but if I have some info it gives me something to go off.
i'm betting it differs from gallery to gallery, location to location. in either case i would get a contract and see what they do cover first. i've never been in one, and to be honest, don't want to be in one. but like any deal i would still ask for a contract just to see what's what. it's the first thing i ask for when a person claiming to be an agent contacts me. from there i see if that person is real, and what kind of place they are based on what's in the contract.
Since they offer the framing and matting that makes life MUCH easier on you as they will do it how they want it. In general, you need to know the format they want to sell. For instance, many galleries do not like canvas wraps for photography and some stipulate black metal frame and white mat.
The commission they charge can be an issue. The one I was in charged 40% of retail. That means in order to make the same amount that the gallery made, I had to put my retail at cost x5. That may not be a big deal or it may seem expensive for photography depending on the market. My failing was not having any local images hanging. Local helps a LOT but images with a general appeal would work as well. (Like the black and white you posted above.)
Even without the vanity gallery charges it can be an expensive proposition. Large framed pieces done to gallery standards are expensive. I think I spent close to 2K in inventory for one gallery I was in and never sold there. IF they are doing the framing at cost, then bonus!
Would I do it again? Yes, but I would want a pretty good feeling that I would sell there. Does the gallery actually sell work like mine on a regular basis? I also have a MUCH larger portfolio now than I did back then and with a decent track record I know what sells well, and what hasn't, at least yet. They gallery people SHOULD have a good idea of what will sell there but if they are just branching out into photography, they probably don't. They re basically taking a chance on you and giving you a chance to do the same on them.
David, what JC says above is right on, as far as I'm concerned.
My feeling is this: I would not spend a lot of money on frames and such with the economy the way it is. I go to art showings here in Los Angeles almost every week. What I do see is a lot of great art; what I DON'T see are any of those nice red dots beside the artwork, saying that it is sold.
Art is one of the last things people are buying right now. I can't wait to get back into the galleries, but not until people are buying again.
But it sounds exciting and I hope you keep us informed.
Gents - thank you all for your valuable input. It's much appreciated. I've responded to the gallery and asked to see their standard artists contract from where, if I decide to go ahead, we can discuss the smaller points.
Chuck - yes, the economy is a concern but I've noticed an improvement in my sales here in FAA over the last couple of years. Whether this is down to marketing efforts on my part, FAA becoming more popular or a sign that people have a bit more money now for luxuries I'm not sure (perhaps all three). However, if I can get my work in a gallery without too great an outlay on my part I think it's worth pursuing. I'll let you know how I get on.
Yupp, I am not as concerned about "the economy" as most people are. The economy is only bad for the people it is bad for and there are still plenty of new Porsches on the road.
What is slightly more of a worry for me concerning galleries is the paradigm shift in the way people shop. Similar to book, music and video stores I am just not sure galleries will ever come back to what they once were simply because it can be bought online with much larger selection than a customer could ever hope to find in a brick and mortar gallery. Yes, I think they will come back for the painting and sculpting sectors but just not sure they will for the digital artist. (Including us photographers in that.)
Now, I will still consider doing it and may be well worth the investment. Not to mention, just being in a gallery can help with online sales as well. I am going to a show opening at a local gallery tonight to judge the sales potential before I invest in physical inventory for them. It is certainly still a way to tap a local market and avoid getting lost in the internet crowd.
The gallery wants to buy 5 large prints and take another 5 on commission (so no charge for wall space). They want to see how things go with the paid pieces but also have a handful extra in the wings in case customers ask to see other work. I'll be giving a discount on the prints the gallery purchases from me and they'll handle the matting and framing their side. They sell the prints at the same price I sell them for on my website plus what they make on the matting and framing. I also get a %age from the matting and framing, similar I suppose to how FAA operates.
All in all it sounds okay to me and is certainly preferable to paying for wall space in the hope of a sale. At least in this regard I know the gallery will be actively promoting and trying to sell my work.
If things move ahead I'll post another update later.
Okay, the gallery's come back to me with their order, so looking good so far. As this is an international shipment I need to settle with them on ownership of postage and funds transfer fees (in this case PayPal). When my customers buy art from me directly they pay the postage, as you'd expect. However, as this is a mutual endeavor i.e. both the gallery and I are hoping for sales and, fingers crossed, a long-term relationship, I'm thinking a 50/50 split on all additional costs would be more appropriate. Appreciate any thoughts on this or how anyone else has handled these additonals.
Thanks Roy. Fully understand for local postage but I'm a little bit further afield and the postage runs to around €100 ($135). Not cheap. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to check the gallery either (nor do i know anyone in the vicinity). However, from all that's transpired to date I have no reason to think they are anything other that what they say they are. I know, as artists, we all tend to get a little wary of such things these days - it seems everyone's out to con us one way or another. I've had my fair share of dubious offers in the past, which is why I'm fairly confident this one is fine.
Does anyone have any experience of international shipping to galleries?
it's in my nature to just not trust places like this. i've had a russian gallery contact me. they had a shoddy website, and i couldn't verify the address.
do you have their address? can you see it on google streets to see if in fact that place does exist? i would be weary if i had to put out any money for something that they were just going to resell anyway. you would have your profit because i would assume the bought it from you. you gave them a discount so they could make more (they could have also charged more), and they want you to pay shipping. if i got all that right. i assume they are paying for the art itself?
the problem with working with paypal is - at any time they can get the money back by telling you it's a fraud. and not only would you not get your money back, and be out the money you spent, you may lose your paypal account as well. this is how many of the ebay scams work. they get your work, and your money and there isn't anything you can do about it. which is why a cleared check or whatever the term is, may be much better in the long run. you can just tell them you don't trust paypal with the deal. and in actuality you could be flagged anyway, if it's a large amount of money all at once. something to think about.
their address, an exact address
website (they should have something).
did they use an aol account to contact you?
you want to look up their place online, check the website see if it seems to click. do a search online to see if anyone else was contacted by that gallery. check the phone number out, does it correspond to the info they gave. while it's nice to trust people, you can't.
galleries have contacted me, and the only reason he contacted me was because he oddly showed his customers my site and my prices. and they wanted things. but it was at retail value and he asked for a discount. he learned his lesson and didn't ask me the next time, since he could just make his own contact sheets up and remove the prices. and i think he's doing that now. basically a gallery doesn't have to contact you at all to buy and resell things. the fact that they are, makes the deal suspicious. while it's exciting that a gallery wants your stuff, you still have to be cautious, especially when it means you may lose your money from doing this. and who knows where you art is really going.
they could be totally honest too, but since it's sight unseen it's best to interview them first. i give everyone the third degree when they contact me. i assume they are a scam artist unless they can prove otherwise. always stay on the side of caution, even if you think you might lose money. you really won't since you never had it.
There seems to be some assumption going on here so let me clarify:
I'm selling them 5 signed prints at a %age discount of my usual charge. They pay for these up front. I suggested PayPal as it generally works out easier for me - easier than having to deal with my useless bank anyway.
They take another 5 prints on consignment - sale or return. There's a contract for this.
They don't want to charge more than I sell my prints for because otherwise customers could just come and buy the print cheaper directly from me (makes perfect sense).
Yes, they have a professional website, they're on street view and their gallery reviews are good.
In short, there is NOTHING that suggests to me they are anything but above board. They haven't asked me to pay postage, it's just that we haven't discussed who pays this yet and hence my query for anyone whose had experience with international shipments to galleries on here.
PayPal, if I recall, has a minimum 30 day waiting period before ANY claims can be made, and then cases of fraud have to be justified between BOTH parties. At least that has been my experience in the past. They don't just refund money because one side shouts 'foul'.
JC - thanks for the suggestion but as you can see the prints need to be signed, so local printing isn't an option.
Mike - I wouldn't trust anything that comes out of Russia, period :)
My gallery situation is probably a rare circumstance and won't match what most galleries do. I had an art coordinator from a local college find my work here on FAA a few months after I joined and she fell in love with some of my work. Once she realized I was only a city away, she contacted me to see if I'd be willing to show some of my work in their art gallery for a couple cemesters. I asked about contracts and was told I would make 100% from any sales and they did not want any commision. She just wanted my artwork displayed in her art gallery so other students and visitors could see what kind of work I do. This was a big surprise to me and I took her up on the offer. I put 30 pieces of my artwork up in the gallery and I've made a couple sales and received 100% of my sales (as the customer contacts me directly for the sale or goes to FAA to order). Since showing my work there, I've had another art gallery contact me. I am still waiting for more details from them before I make any decisions.
I'm sure this is way out of the norm from most galleries and I got very lucky.
Nothing in your situation suggests fraud to me BTW. The Paypal thing is a PAIN to fight though it can be done if one side calls foul. I had it happen once on Etsy and it was for 30 bucks. Wasn't worth my time to fight it.
i still don't suggest paypal, even if it's more convenient, they can lock you money for any reason and you may never get it. make sure this consignment thing in the contract there are clauses where if it doesn't sell, or it's damaged or stolen, there is something to fall back on.
chances are the people in that gallery won't find you here or will look here. i have stuff in many stores and some people just don't trust one place or the other. if they went to a gallery they would expect to pay higher prices, partly in fact that they can see it, see the quality and it's already framed and matted. plus there is no shipping cost to them, so it's a better deal overall.
i wouldn't volunteer paying anything unless they bring it up. it's a part of doing business should they want to get things from you.
paypal is a very shifty business. the other person says, this isn't what was advertised, paypal locks your account, pays the money back to them - in that 30 days. meanwhile, they can pay anyone who complains, from your money, and you can't use the account. possibly ever again. they don't work between both parties, there are enough horror stories about that site to fill a book and they will freeze an account without warning for any reason they choose. they seem to target those with over $500 in the account and keep it for 6 months at a time.
These charges are generally borne by my customers when they buy directly from me. As such I've asked the gallery to cover them for now and adjust their gallery prices accordingly. As they're buying a number of prints it actually works out cheaper for the customer.
Yes, PayPal - it's not a solution I'm terribly comfortable with but sometimes it's just the price of convenience. To date I've had no problem with them (and I've used them a lot), although I appreciate many have had issues. Just have to keep my fingers crossed. Wrt this gallery though, I have no doubt whatsoever that they're on the level, so don't anticipate any issues from that side.
just beware that if you suddenly get a large amount of money, especially if they are on a black list of some kind there, they may lock the account. paypal is convenient when they are. and when the money is locked up and you can't get to it, then they are the worst place in the world. the money sits, your locked out, and they gain the interest. or they can refund it back to the customer. that's the part they will let you choose.
Sounds like a reasonable deal to me.. does the upfront payment cover the cost of you producing the consignment prints ?
I think I'd want to be seeing some profit from the deal at the outset.
My only concern is that they don't pay after selling the extra prints.. how about negotiating 3 months delay in payment for the consignment prints ?
That way it is less open ended.. and after three months payment becomes due.
Another thing I have done is contact other artists who deal with a gallery.. to ask if they are happy with the relationship. Its not usually difficult to find whose work they are selling.
I've found the less scrupulous galleries are using every trick in the book to get stock to sell.. and it can be hard work to get payment after the prints are sent. If this is a long term relationship it might well be worth doing a credit check on the business.. if you ask for details like company and directors name.. expect them to become "prickly" if they're credit isn't good. I would take this as a red flag !