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Consignment application?

I was wondering if any artists out there used an application for
galleries who wanted to sell their work on consignment. Since
basically we’re sending them our products in good faith and we are
assuming all the risks, does this seem like a crazy idea? Have you
ever tried getting one of your suppliers to send you merchandise on
credit without filling out a credit application first?

Just thinking out loud during pickling time…

Chris Slater
Kansas City


Any reputable gallery should have you sign a consignment agreement.
Ours is one page. I have signed others that were as numerous as my
mortgage papers.

It protects you and protects the gallery. My advice? Don’t send
another item until you have it in writing.


Chris, Most states, I think, have laws established for consigning work
that provide a measure of protection for the artist. You might check
with your state attorney general or a local art museum that is funded
in part by tax money.

Tim Sheriff

Hi Chris, I was recently approached at a large wholesale show, by a
very friendly, very persuasive woman telling me how much she looooved
my jewelry. She said that it was some of the best she’d seen, (I was
at the Rosen show, so I guess she hadn’t gotten very far yet…hehehe).
She then presented a finely printed color catalog, and some lovely
color postcards of her recently opened 9000 square ft. gallery,
located in one of our western states. Pretty impressive I thought. She
then told me that she had selected ME to show my work in her lovely
gallery. Then came the other shoe…she wanted to select about $2500
worth of work, that I would ship to her at my expense, and that she
would so graciously display and sell for me at her exquisitely
appointed establishment…all on consignment…“Of course” she said,
“the gallery would be responsible for all of the work while it was in
the gallery, and would pay for the value of the piece should it be
lost or stolen. Work that was sold would be paid for promptly on the
first day of the next month after the sale, and I would be able to
reserve the right to pull the work at any time, and they already had a
contract drawn up to that effect, ready for me to sign”…lucky me! I
thanked her for her time, and told her that I as a small business
person could not afford to in essence, finance her charming art house,
no matter how alluring the environment. In truth though, she did have
a great spiel. I then told her that I only sell my work outright, and
that I have a generous exchange policy, should her selection not be
what the public in her area craved. She told me, that in doing
consignment, she could take more risks with the variety type and
price of work selected. In reply, I told her that the way I saw it, I
was the one taking the risks in allowing my work to sit around a
gallery, collecting wear and tear, possibly for months, looking good
filling her space at my expense, with no guarantee of recompense. When
instead, my work could be sold to a gallery, or a retail customer, who
would pay me for it now, and assume the risk of their taste as I
assumed the risk of mine. Alas…I’m afraid she wasn’t very pleased
with my response. I later talked to some other artists about this
gallery, and consignment in general, and understood that this
particular gallery had very slow sales, and a recalcitrant payment
schedule. Anyway, contract or not, consignment out of state has
virtually no recourse, short of your flying out to annoy the staff in
person, should something go awry. So I’m staying away from it, unless
it’s right next door to me…although, hmmm…when I did try that,
the gallery down the road tried to stiff me, and refused to return my
work for 6 months…uh-uh…no consignment for me, but if you choose
to go that route, I do wish you god speed.


Lisa,(Yes, I’m still alive out here in LaLa land :wink: ), Topanga, CA USA

As I mentioned in another post, it is shortsighted to be dogmatic
about the consignment issue…there are those of us who have proposed
a consignment arrangement with gallery owners even when the owners
preferred to buy outright. Amongst the benefits is an artist’s strict
control of the retail price (pre-empting greedy markups) and a higher
profit from the sale.

Consider too, that many, many museum shop galleries work only on
consignment and that these government funded institutions are, in my
experience, totally safe places to deal with, regardless of their
distance from home…Marty R.

Reynard Designs
Contemporary Jewellery & Wearable Art
Victoria, B.C.

Why rely on the Gallery to provide you with such an agreement? If you
haven’t prepared one yet then it is advisable for you to do so. It is
best to approach it from the aspect of what you as the artist feel
will best protect your interests.

First you will need to consider and define exactly what terms and
responsibility you will expect from the exhibiting Gallery, try to
write it out as simply and clearly as possible, it need not be overly
verbose with legal terminology.

Once you have accomplished this and you know what will work for your
situation, it will be possible for you to negotiate any differences
between your requirements and those of the gallery into an agreement
that will serve both your purposes.

My consignment agreement is four sentences (60 words) on the bottom of
my consignment inventory and pricelist, it has a line below it for the
Gallery personnel to sign and date thereby designating that my terms
for consignment are accepted along with the consigned items.

Some points to consider when writing yours: commission percentages for
consignor/consignee length of exhibition responsibility for losses or
damage insurance notification of sales terms of payment promotion or
publicity (I am sure there are others)

Each consignment may be different so it is important for each artist
to realize what is the most applicable to their own situation.
Remember, after all, you are placing your valuable artwork in the
Gallery’s hands, so what assurances do you want in exchange?

Good luck!

Michael David Sturlin

Thank you every one for your generous input, however I feel as if I
have failed to communicate my question to the group so Ill try again.

Maybe I should have titled the subject “Credit” application. I
already have a strong contract in place. I was just wandering if any
one ever had a gallery fill out a credit type application before
agreeing to consign work to that gallery. Most companies require this
review of a company before opening account with them. Since the
artist assumes all the risks on consignment, it just makes sense that
we would want to see some financial records on the gallery that
requests a credit line (for all practical purposes) before we ship
them hundreds or thousands of dollars in merchandise.

Sorry for the miscommunication on the first post.

Chris Slater
Kansas City

Stores are asked for some credit report. However, one suggestion is
to join Jewelers Board of Trade, which I just did. There are many
benefits. One is that you can run credit reports on jewelers all
over the country. The book in which the stores are listed is a good
way of weeding out buyers that have a shaky reputation or no
financial reputation at all. Membership also allows you to use JBT
for collections of bad debt.

You can also simply ask someone what their JBT rating is. Any store
that is asking for credit should know their rating and know that they
will be asked for some kind of credit report

Larry Seiger

Larry - How many art or craft galleries would be listed with the JBT?
This listing would be useful as far as dealing with Jewelry stores,
but would it also cover the more eclectic venues with which many of us
are more likely to deal? Is there any equivelent listing for
galleries? I think Chris’s question is an excellent one. A gallery
should be willing to provide some sort of reference sheet with the
contact info for other vendors who work with them on consignment.I
have a contract which I based upon one provided by a gallery I
consigned to several years ago. I basically reversed the point of view
and re-wrote it accordingly, tweeking the specifics to suit my
situation. Signing the sucker, however, did not prevent another
gallery owner (and good friend) from violating many of the provisions
on a regular basis, until she went out of business. (Luckily, she made
good on what she owed me at the end; it was bad business accumen, not
bad intentions.)

Margery in LA

As far as how many galleries would be listed, it really depends. If
the galleries deal with any listed JBT jeweler, they will have some
sort of history with bureau. That is because JBT members send
reports to the JBT every so often (how often I’m not sure, I haven’t
been a member that long yet). So even a gallery doesn’t know about
JBT they will still have some sort of history to look at. However, I
did look up one gallery that does all consignment and they were not
listed in the book. I plan on doing most of my business with stores
that deal primarily with jewelry.

One alternative to JBT is Dunn and Bradstreet. They deal with all
sorts of businesses, not just jewelry. I believe that they operate
in a similar manner to JBT. There will be many more businesses we are
not interested in tracking with D and B. My parents had ratings with
JBT and D and B and so do I. In fact I just did an interview with
Dunn and Bradstreet a month or so ago. They also tried to get me to
join. You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau. In
my own personal experience I have found that many people with poor
credit ratings also have trouble with their customers. You would at
least get a look at another facet of the prospective business you
plan on dealing with.

Hope this has been helpful…

Larry Seiger

Gee, in my area, MOST of the better galleries require consignment for
local artists. The only time these pay “cash” or “buy outright” is
at ACC or similar shows. Those of us who have great stuff, but live
only a few miles away are unable to get into these galleries unless
we do consignment.

The way to make money: make sure you price your pieces to reflect the
50/50 split (which is the usual cost.)

Larry and all others;

I have been asked many times if I am a member of the JBT. I do not
know who runs it or where to get regarding joining. Would
you care to share there phone number etc. I have started my business
"officially" this year and would like to do the right thing to make my
life easier and customers looking for Thanks in advance.

Barb McLaughlin Taylor River Jewelry Designs


I apologize if I have missed a previous post that mentioned what your
business type is, wholesale or retail. You don’t need to be a member
of JBT if you are selling to the public. You only need to send in a
detailed financial report with a list of your suppliers so you can be
rated and listed in thier book. You can get the form from JBT, their
number is 401.467.0055 fax 401.467.1199 95 Jefferson Boulevard,
Warwick, RI 02888-1046. If you are rated, and have a good rating,
you will find it much easier to get new suppliers to work with you
and you won’t have to fill out as many credit applications.

If you are a wholesale jeweler and you’re trying to get more retail
accounts then being a member is great. You can get reports on stores
that tell you how well capitalized they are and how well they pay.
Many stores are not rated, but are listed. You can get a surprising
amount of about them anyway, because members report every
so often on all the companies they do business with. You also can use
them for collections services.

Larry Sieger