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Approaching out-of-state galleries


#1

Hello Everyone,

I would be interested in your experience on the protocol and
procedures that work best for approaching out of state galleries to
consign or purchase work. Specifically some questions aRe:

If your inventory isn’t huge but you contact say 10 or so galleries
and they agree to look at work exactly how do you go about it?

  1. When you send slides to several galleries, if more than one
    gallery wants to take work do they just ask for a grouping based on
    your slides or do they generally ask for specific pieces and if so
    what if more than one gallery wants the same work? How do you deal
    with that on a professional level. Or is it not recommended to send
    the same grouping of slides to more than one place?? In my case most
    of my work is one of a kind. If you enclose an SASE do they bother
    to return slides?

  2. If you are lucky enough to get galleries to want your work who
    pays for the shipping back and forth?? Also, this may be a dumb
    question but is there a specific treatment for out of state sales on
    your income tax return??

  3. What is a recommended amount of time to allow a gallery to keep
    your work on consignment?? My work runs between $200 and $1500 so I
    don’t expect it to fly off the shelves but neither do I want it to
    sit around for a year collecting dust. Do galleries tend to put your
    things in and out of display?? If you haven’t received any checks
    would there be any reason to suspect that you are not getting paid on
    a timely basis or should you just assume your work is not selling.

  4. Sight unseen how do you know that the gallery is going to display
    your pieces to their best advantage??

Just generally wondering what kinds of things to watch out for and on
what points you can be assertive without being unprofessional. In
other words, how much control can I have from long distance?? Any
suggestions from all you experienced people that have trodden this
path before would be helpful or if there is really good thread I
could get into so as not to be repetitious I would appreciate it.
Thanks in advance GRACE


#2

Dear Grace,

What if more than one gallery wants the same work? 

In my cover letter to a gallery, I state clearly that my work is all
one-of-a-kind and that the photos enclosed are intended to be
representative of my work as a whole. I also state that, while some
of these pieces may still be available, most of them will have been
sold. I have never had a problem with this approach. If the gallery
likes a particular kind of item, they can always ask for similar
pieces and you can either provide them or not. In the case of
consignment of one-of-a-kind pieces, a gallery has to be flexible.

If you enclose an SASE do they bother to return slides? 

First of all, I send photos, not slides (unless they’re specifically
requested) since photos require no special equipment to view. A
gallery should return them if you enclose an SASE although I’ve run
into a couple that didn’t, as well as a few who did when I forgot to
enclose the SASE!

  If you are lucky enough to get galleries to want your work who
pays for the shipping back and forth? 

In most cases, the shipper pays. In other words, you pay when you
ship to them and they pay when they ship back to you. Whatever the
arrangement, it should be stated in the consignment
agreement/contract.

Also, this may be a dumb question but is there a specific treatment
for out of state sales on your income tax return? 

The geographical source of sales is irrelevant on your income tax
returns, but it does make a difference on your sales tax returns and
the forms for the latter will ask about out-of-state sales. > What is a
recommended amount of time to allow a gallery to keep your work on >
consignment?

I usually consign for a minimum of three months and I rarely leave
anything longer than 4-5.

Do galleries tend to put your things in and out of display? 

In my experience, most don’t but a few do. When I find out that a
gallery displays a few pieces and keeps the rest in drawers, I first
have a discussion with them about it and, if that’s just the way they
do business, then I have to decide if I want to continue the
relationship. In the past, I have chosen to pull my work in this
situation. No matter how good the gallery is, your work will not sell
as well if it’s not on display (unless you’re a signature artist for
the gallery and your work has many collectors).

If you haven't received any checks would there be any reason to
suspect that you are not getting paid on a timely basis or should
you just assume your work is not selling. 

Method of payment should be specified in the consignment contract but
some galleries pay like clockwork and others don’t. If it’s the
former type you can probably assume your work isn’t selling. If it’s
the latter, you can’t assume anything and must call monthly to ask
them to send you an inventory (the former will do this without you
asking). Of course, you have to find out what type of gallery it is
in advance and the best way to do this is to call other jewelers who
consign to the gallery and ask them. A reputable gallery should
always be willing to tell you the names of other jewelers they do
business with and I have always gotten great cooperation and info when
I’ve called.

Sight unseen how do you know that the gallery is going to display
your pieces to their best advantage? 

You don’t. On the other hand, it is to the gallery’s advantage to
display your work so that it will sell. In past threads on
consignment, several people have remarked that a gallery will always
try to sell purchased work before consigned work. I’ve found this to
be an over-generalization, but one way to avoid the problem is to
consign to an all-consignment gallery � and there are many. However,
it happens that my two best consignment accounts also purchase work;
they show and sell my work as vigorously as the work they have
purchased outright. What’s important is whether or not a gallery is
moving your work at a rate that is acceptable to you. If they’re not,
then pull it and try someplace else.

  Just generally wondering what kinds of things to watch out for
and on what points you can be assertive without being
unprofessional.  In other words, how much control can I have from
long distance? 

More than you’d think! Assert yourself firmly when necessary, but
always keep a smile in your voice and exert pressure, if you have to,
with a light touch. Be courteous � with owners, managers, and
salesclerks alike. You’ll always accomplish more if you cajole people
than shout at them.

Also, you didn’t ask about contracts. They’re essential whether
you’re selling locally or out-of-state. Some galleries have their own
standard contracts. Get a copy in advance and read every word. If
there’s something you don’t understand or that makes you
uncomfortable, ask about it; the gallery may be willing to modify a
particular clause. If a gallery has no contract, you must be prepared
with your own. Mine is a combination contract and inventory sheet
and, if you’d like to see a template, email me off-list and I’ll send
it to you as an email attachment.

Beth Rosengard @Beth_Rosengard