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Galleries - (longish reply)


#1

Hi Kat!

I’ve worked with a few galleries, strictly on a consignment
basis. The standard consignment fee in this area (metropolitan
Charlotte, NC) is 40%. Essentially, I establish the retail
price, and if the piece sells, they pay be 60% of that at the
end of the month. My understanding is that to sell to the same
galleries outright, they want a 50% discount off the retail
price… unless you have an established track record, in which
case, everything is negotiable.

You know, to be honest, I think everything is negotiable, but
they might not budge on the consignment fee unless you’ve got
some leverage.

I have my own “consignment agreement” I drew up in plain English
that basically states that if anything is missing, for any
reason, I will be paid for it. Also, if anything is damaged,
for reasons other than faulty craftsmanship or materials (i.e.,
it was abused) I will be paid as well. If a gallery isn’t
confident enough in their staff and security to agree to these
terms, I don’t want to deal with them anyway. And I do require
them to sign the agreement.

I think the gallery owners and managers respond favorably when
you go in as a professional and a business-person. They’ve
probably had their share of dealing with flaky artists who
disdain the world of business and make the working relationship
harder than it has to be. I’ve never had a bad experience “cold
calling” on a gallery as an artist looking to establish contact.

I also try to work with the gallery to get feedback on what’s
attracting attention, and what’s not. Try and observe what the
target market is for the gallery, and see if your target market
is the same. If necessary, adjust the product mix to match the
customer base. 20

I got into one of the most prestigious galleries in uptown
Charlotte, and placed my latest and greatest one-of-a-kind
artsy/wild jewelry, as well as some more commercial stuff. The
commercial stuff sold, and the really creative stuff sat there!
Then I realized that uptown Charlotte is all lawyers and
bankers… and I was hoping to sell rock-star style jewelry to
them. Not gonna happen!

Finding the “right” gallery can be a learning experience. I
still have a great relationship with the galleries I’ve been in,
but some just weren’t right for my work. The first gallery I
was in, the only jewelry that was selling was this stuff made
from clay (not polymer), fired and painted… average retail:
about $6. Other jeweler’s work I admired in their cases wasn’t
selling either. I got a clue after about six months…

I’m actually starting to question the gallery concept for
jewelry (at least in this area). I’m thinking that upscale
boutiques might be the way to go. But in reality… here’s what
I’m really thinking:

If I could sell the product to the customer myself, at retail,
and cut out the gallery, I make a lot more money!! Of course, I
don’t want to get into show/festival circuit (takes me away from
the studio), or the risk/expense of opening up a store front.
That’s why I think the WWW is going to be the way to go! If a
site is done well, and marketed effectively, I think it might be
the way for the small artist to get the exposure and presence
with a minimal investment of labor and capital.

Food for thought,

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com
http://www.sebaste.com


#2
I have my own "consignment agreement" I drew up in plain English
that basically states that if anything is missing, for any
reason, I will be paid for it.  Also, if anything is damaged,
for reasons other than faulty craftsmanship or materials (i.e.,
it was abused) I will be paid as well.  If a gallery isn't
confident enough in their staff and security to agree to these
terms, I don't want to deal with them anyway.  And I do require
them to sign the agreement.

I think it’s wise to protect yourself (this statement comes from
being burned a few times ) I have a book called The Artists
Friendly Legal Guide and it has various forms and agreement in
it. This was very helpful to me =-)

I think the gallery owners and managers respond favorably when
you go in as a professional and a business-person.  They've
probably had their share of dealing with flaky artists who
disdain the world of business and make the working relationship
harder than it has to be.

I agree, even if you feel like that flakey artist inside it
seems to work better if you act “as if”. This statement is also
out of some experience =-) I’m one of those artists who dislikes
the business world and sees it as a necessary evil. But I’ve
learned that unless I can afford to hire a business manager
(hired my hubby for this–had to fire him tho :wink: and a sales rep
I’m gonna hafta do it on my own to be successful. I’ve also
learned that it’s what you appear to be and not what you really
are that counts in the world of business (this is MHO :wink:

I also try to work with the gallery to get feedback on what's
attracting attention, and what's not.  Try and observe what the
target market is for the gallery, and see if your target market
is the same. If necessary, adjust the product mix to match the
customer base.

I’m learning to do this to. I thought that I could do whatever I
wanted and it would sell. Now I think it has to be a mix. I do
what I love-- and – what I call my production line earrings that
sell quickly and keep me going.

If I could sell the product to the customer myself, at retail,
and cut out the gallery, I make a lot more money!! 
That's why I think the WWW is going to be the way to go!  If a
site is done well, and marketed effectively, I think it might be
the way for the small artist to get the exposure and presence
with a minimal investment of labor and capital.

I’ve been thinking about this too. Now, I’m not a complete
computer illiterate, but close. I just found out you can have
photo’s put on a disk so that you can get them into your computer
easily. I’ve also been in touch with a few people who I’ve gotten
to know and have their own on-line catalogs. They have asked me
if they can sell some of my stuff on thier pages. Same deal as
with a gallery. (Actually, in my area there is a 70/30 split–but
it’s very conservative here–I’m not getting rich, believe me!) I
send them a copy of the Agreement, they send it back signed
(snail mail) and I send them what they want. So this is another
possibility for exposure until I can learn to do my own web
page.

Kathie


#3
 I got into one of the most prestigious galleries in uptown
Charlotte, and placed my latest and greatest one-of-a-kind
artsy/wild jewelry, as well as some more commercial stuff. 
The commercial stuff sold, and the really creative stuff sat
there! Then I realized that uptown Charlotte is all lawyers
and bankers... and I was hoping to sell rock-star style jewelry
to them.  Not gonna happen! >>

I’ve experienced that “one of a kind” syndrom too! The GREAT
pieces have been on display for years, without a bite . . . the
quickly made stuff looks like what they can find at discount
stores, so that is what sells. I don’t get it . . .