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Galleries, contracts, and online selling

I exhibit my work in one gallery which has done a good job of
selling my work. I plan to pursue other galleries in the near
future. I also have work for sale online. Problem: The one gallery
who carries my work is requesting that artists sign a contract
disallowing us from selling online. Even though I have sold very
little online, I am unsure about whether I should sign away my right
to try. I wonder if anyone wants to offer input?

Janice Lea

Dear Janice,

I personally would shy away from anyone demanding exclusivity on my
work, unless it was my idea. If this gallery can benefit your
branding in some way, you might develop a line dedicated to them.
However, if other galleries do not have this requirement and all
things are equal, I would probably choose to do business with the
other galleries. I understand this gallery has done a good job of
selling your work, so you will need to take that into account. If you
do decide to go with this gallery, be careful you are not in breach
of contract by utilizing other sales outlets (i. e. other galleries,
direct sales, etc.). Ultimately, it comes down to a cost/benefit
analysis and brand control. I hope this helps and good luck!

Donna W

Hello Janice,

Galleries don’t like competition with online sales (at lower cost?)

  • logical. Have you asked about the reasons for the no online sales
    clause with the gallery? Might be worth a discussion.

Of course, you can just not use that gallery. Another option if you
want to continue your online sales - develop a separate line of work.
In that case, it would be ethical to make the galleries aware of this
online work and to assure them of the non-compete nature of it.

However, since the online sales have not been very successful,
perhaps you should shift your emphasis to the galleries. One only has
so much time and you can decide where best to direct your efforts.

Judy in Kansas, who researched urban raccoon behavior, queried the
wildlife Extension specialist, and put up metal sheets on the deck
supports. NOW let’s see if the wily rascals can climb up to the bird

Problem: The one gallery who carries my work is requesting that
artists sign a contract disallowing us from selling online. Even
though I have sold very little online, I am unsure about whether I
should sign away my right to try. 

It is incumbent on the artist/craftsperson to not undersell their
galleries. But it is ridiculous to require that you not sell online.
You should not ever allow anyone to restrict your ability to sell
your work. It is ok for a gallery to ask for and get an exclusive
sales area but beyond a specified geographical zone I don’t think
any gallery can sell enough work to put up with restricting your
ability to sell your work. Now if they want to guaranty a certain
amount of income for exclusive rights to your work that is a
different matter.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


this sounds like a typical gallery number. AKA you do the work and
the gallery makes the profit.

Sure sign on the dotted line if THEY GUARANTEE TO BUY or GIVE YOU AN

Otherwise FORGET IT.

I would be very wary of anyone who wants to restrict where I sell my
product, unless I was guaranteed to get some benefits.

Ask yourself “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”

I was in this situation with a customer who bought hair accessories.
Don’t sell to X or I will stop buying from you.

I said well you better keep me busy. He sure did paid $500 in advance
for every order of $500 min. Did $2000 a week in the 1980’s with
this guy.

Try the attitude “I am so glad you want to be my exclusive agent.
Explain to me how much YOU GUARANTEE I will make from this?”

You are a business not a charity. You have a product they want; use
your advantage.

I do not deal with galleries anymore. Why should I put my time and
money i. e stock into some one else’s business to wait and see if it

I now sell directly to the public through markets (my way of
advertising) and through an appointment only show room.

I sell for the same prices as the galleries wanted. The customers
are pleased buying direct from the maker at maker’s prices not %100 on
makers prices.

My only problem is I have trouble keeping up the stock.

Where is the gallery? NYC or Rodeo drive? The location is something
to consider, also how prestigious are they?

The above said if it is a top quality gallery sign for six months.
And push your stock for location and do in gallery meet and greets
with the customers. Every month.

This is something not to rush into. Email David Geller for his
advice, look for his posts, he wrote the Blue Book.

Xtines Jewels

My preference would be not to sign an exclusivity contract. Many
artists have multiple galleries representing them, so why not use
the internet? However if the gallery is selling everything you are
fabricating, then there is no need to have any other venue.
Obviously it is not, if you are showing slsewhere. You could sign a
short term contract with the gallery and see how they do, then try
the internet, You could also let the gallery sell only a specific
line and you could sell other lines through the web.


Check out the Professional Guidelines, developed by Harriete Estel
Berman, section on the SNAG website There is a huge amount of
on this topic available there.

Hope you find this useful,
Linda Kaye-Moses

Thank you to all who replied, the input from Orchid has helped me
greatly. There is more to the story. When I originally wrote the
post, I had just received the “Letter to Artists” from the gallery.
I couldn’t accept it without trusted advice, so I turned to Orchid.
I also sent further questions to the gallery to be sure I understood
clearly. I learned that I had indeed misunderstood. Even though the
letter specifically mentioned online selling, actually, the new
contract will require ALL sales to go through the gallery. The
artist is prohibited from selling their own work anywhere else.
Custom work, included.

I have chosen to leave this gallery.

By the way, NEVER underselling a gallery is simply common sense to
me, I would not consider it, nor would I ever attempt to take a
customer from a gallery. It would be against my personal ethics.

Thanks again to everyone who responded.

Janice Lea

That gallery owner needs to wake up to the real world! How they can
possibly think they should be the only venue is beyond me! Most of
mine, depending on population, restrict it by county or by zip
code… that is it. They want to be the only one in THEIR area -
which is quite reasonable I think! Anything else is NOT reasonable
at all!

I’ll be they lose a lot of artists!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

That request is just plain bad business. It is a bad business
practice for the artist and it will turn out to be a bad business
practice for the gallery. Now, if the gallery indicated that they
would be willing to buy outright at my price every piece I could
create forever, I might view it differently. I’m not fan of one-way
streets in business.

Barbara on the island having returned with Lady GaGa


looked at the link re: consignment contracts.

when I did use galleries I had a contract my invoices stated SALE OR

The goods were in the gallery in the condition delivered or they
were SOLD.

If the goods were not on the premises, e. g. on loan for appraisal

If the goods were damaged I DEMANDED PAYMENT.


Three days before I moved 500 miles away from my agent she bounced a
cheque $3000 on my goods.

She knew the money was not there to pay and had done the same to
others I knew who used her, in the end took them for up to $10,000.

I went back to the office and showed her the bounced cheque, stamped
R (returned insufficient funds) from the bank.

She said give me the cheque and I will write you another one. I said
no give me the cash or I will give this to a detective and you will
be arrested. She said she did not like my attitude, and as her
husband had to pay up the cash for the first cheque that bounced only
$300 some misunderstanding with the bank, OK gave her that one.

I said I don’t give a sht you are a fcking crook cash or jail your
choice. She opened a draw and peeled off $3000 from a large wad of
dollars. My friends who dealt with her and “played nice” lost

I even had one wholesale customer write me a cheque from an account
that was closed. The detectives said give her a day to get the money
and tell her I have the cheque. On the agreed day she tried to write
me another cheque. I said the deal was cash and I will ring the
detective and you are in jail. Just pulled the money of a large wad
of dollars and paid.

Most of my customers were honest and paid on time or had a good
reason, e. g. mother died OK that is fair enough.

The odd few who tried to rip me off were dealt with quickly. And at
last resort met my debt collector, a charming Italian gentleman, who
very quietly explained the terms of contract. And asked how it could
be resolved. Softly spoken and exceptionally polite.

Always resolved the issue.

That said those in genuine distressful situations the debt was
wiped. If the sh*t has hit the fan for some poor person I would not
make life worse for them and loses were tax deductible.

It is seller beware out there, stand up for yourself

y, the new contract will require ALL sales to go through the
gallery. Theartist is prohibited from selling their own work
anywhere else. Customwork, included.

I was very surprised to hear a gallery would have a contract that
you sell via them only. Wow! Takes nerve to suggest that. Iam
surprised they have any people willing to do that. That is putting
all your eggs in one basket. What a strange demand on their part.
“You are now my slave” that is what that says to me. The galleries I
deal with promote me. They sell my work and send custom work my way.
I never undersell them and our contract states that I cannot
undersell them which only makes sense.

I enjoy the galleries I work with and they seem to enjoy me. We have
a good working relationship. I give them my best and they return the
favor. I would never have someone tell me I could not sell my own
work. It’s kind of hilarious if you think about it. It is yours. If
they purchased every single piece you made, well I guess they could
do whatever they wanted towith it. I think that would be in my
contract with them, “You, the Gallery, will purchase every single
piece I make.” I wonder if they would like that? Really, amazing
crazy thought process on their part.

I would be very curious to know if they get anyone to stay?

Just baffled by the thought of it :slight_smile: joy kruse

Good decision…

They want it all without giving you anything…

I cannot fathom how any self-respecting professional independent
jeweller / metalsmith would EVER consider signing any document
restricting what YOU do with YOUR work. PERIOD Sounds like someone on
a power trip with no clue as to how to a REAL gallery is run has
lost their mind- which sounds more likely ! Galleries are supposed to
promote you and your work NOT RESTRICT IT.

*unless you want to give your rights to your work to someone clearly
not respecting your best interests or one’s individual rights as a
business person much less as an independent artisan! Needless to say
I would remove my work from their gallery immediately. Clearly This
owner does not know how to run a gallery. They should not be in
business representing artists/craftsmen - but that’s my opinion of
anyone that would dare to impose any sort of ridiculous and
unfounded policies on me or anything I create that represents any
part of my income or that of fellow artists in the gallery (that
should unite against this policy and end it right away) ! You have
materials, overhead and labour invested in your work (- Presuming we
are not talking about a 40 dollar strand of beaded something and
that you are a professional jeweller-.). What has the gallery
invested in selling your pieces? Do they expect you to take down your
website too (if you are professional) and rely on their marketing and
promotion of your work exclusively in exchange for your giving them
exclusive rights??? I’m betting not. One thing I can tell you is THIS
IS NOT A REAL GALLERY but smacks of some consignment venture. or
something! I have never heard of anything so unbelievable in my life.
Here’s to hoping you, and every other artisn selling through that
"gallery" has a decent lawyer- or that you all remove your works
collectively and swiftly TODAY while you get a lawyer to represent
the group ending any discussion of this policy straight away and
leaving the owner nothing to sell- or more probably to grift a
commission from- and ending in the recovery of any lost income that
you and your fellow artisans were guaranteed in whatever period of
time you contracted for from this “gallery” ! The “GALLERY” IS
ABSOLUTELY UNPROFESSIONAL: I would be looking over their Certificate
in Art Museum and Gallery Practises! and then having it revoked, on
the other hand I’m betting this is no real gallery,… rer

That request is just plain bad business. It is a bad business
practice for the artist and it will turn out to be a bad business
practice for the gallery. Now, if the gallery indicated that they
would be willing to buy outright at my price every piece I could
create forever, I might view it differently. I'm not fan of
one-way streets in business. 

Barbra has it right, as any business agreement has to benefit both

Its just not possible to give a simple answer as we dont know all
the circumstances of yourself and the gallery.

We have here on Ganoksin craftsmen on the one hand that are happy to
be employed on a full time basis for a regular monthly wage doing a
great job, on the there are those who are also at the top of this
craft, but who design make and market their own to their customers
without using galleries or other outlets…

It takes a long time to get there, but by controlling te whole
operation one derives all the benefits.

Its a tough world, one survives or falls by ones own efforts.

You need talent, all the technical skills, plus all the equipment
you need to do what you want, plus the marketing skills and the space
to do it all as well as the confidence to see it through.

We would need to see the contract here as a pdf. to comment and
suggest amendments.

how about getting a knowledgeable friend to go to the gallery and
ask to see your work, and record what the gallery tries to do to
promote it!.

A bit of research never does any harm. With more how
they work puts you in a better bargaining position.

One could say that the gallery want all the benefits of an employed
jeweller with out any of the costs.

One can see that the gallery want to tell customers that they have
the exclusive designs artists they have chosen to support.