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Gallery pricing

Greetings, All -

A local gallery owner says she likes the jewelry I make. She has
invited me to bring in a portfolio for her viewing, if I’m
interested in placing it.

I have no idea how to talk about pricing though. What percentage do
typical galleries take for the display, management & sale of your
work? If I name a price for something, is it the cost I need to
recover, or is it the price I want the piece to sell for?

I don’t want to “give it away” so far as my time and materials
go…even though it’s ‘just’ a hobby right now doesn’t mean my work
is worth selling cheaply (even though the sell price by the gallery
may be much higher). Is it better to a) name a modest price that will
get my work shown, b) require that the sell price is at least what my
expectation of the value is, or c) make sure I get at least my time
& materials markup and anything above that is hers?

The owner is a nice lady but she’s a BUSINESS woman. I don’t want to
go in so unprepared that I embarrass myself or appear disrespectful
to her.

This shop is located in the ‘old town’ district of a nearby city, so
people with money go there. Lots of antique shops, high-end dress
shops, cozy restaurants and at least two art galleries. She carries
everything from pottery to oil paintings to weavings to jewelry
(mostly lampwork earrings & necklaces).

All advice is welcome! Thanks very much for your time,


I have been a lurker for many years now, and this is the first time

By trade I am a professional basket weaver, chair caner, however my
work is in several Virginia Art Galleries, and through the Colonial
Williamsburg Foundation.

I will tell you one of the easiest ways to learn pricing of an area
is to go there and go in the many shops and Galleries and look at
retail gallery pricing and get an idea of wha the customers are
spending on your paticular art form, for me it is much more difficult
a you don’t find a lot (if any) baskets in art galleries, however you
most always will find jewelry.

Take the day and peruse different galleries, I could swear from your
discription that you are located in or near N. Virginia and near the
"Old Town of Georgetown" if this is the case or something like it,
the gallery will probably ask a 50/50 commission on all of your work,
and that is a good assumption to consider even if the gallery is a
60/40 meaning the gallery will take 40% commission.

I n my long experience with galleries, I tend to price higher, if you
find your work does not sell, you can give yoursel some leeway from
the start and make your prices lower on what you put in next time or
change out your work periodically and assess the wholesale pricing.

This being said though give yourself enough time for you work to
sell, people will notice it over time, they will come in and look at
it, think about it and six months to a year later when you are just
about to give up it will start to move, now during that time I will
change out my work every couple of months. what this does is:

A) Will always make your work look fresh and new in the gallery

B) Make customers think wow her/his work is moving

C) I should have bought that when I saw it now it is gone and they
will start buying it.

D) The customer and gallery owner will alway see some new ideas,
ever changing and evolving.

On pricing the work, if you are like me, (Poor-or feel like you just
make ends meet each month) remember the people shopping in Art /Art
and Fine Craft Galleries came to this shop by means of Luxury
Vehicles, own one or two or more homes, spend lavishly on
decorating/dining out. In other words they are not us!!!

In my experience just starting out, you will feel like the galleries
are robbing you and making a bundle, on each side we all have over
head to keep up with even if you are a hobbiest, we all were at one
time, then we graduated to having studios and all the expenses that
go with them.

In short if the retail price you are aiming for seems way way to
high for you to ever afford, it is probably a fair price in gallery.

You will find in jewelry in the galleries, the starting price of a
simple pair of earings can easily be no less than 25.00-75.00
depending on the location of the gallery, necklaces simple in form
just bead stringing can start at 100.00 and up. I have done some
jewelry in the past, it is always better to price your work a bit
higher and give a nice jewelry box with it, either to go with it or
used to display the piece in.

You just need to remember don’t just cover your costs and that is
it, you need to make enough to cover your costs, shipping and make a
profit (however small it may be to build your business on, buy more
supplies etc.

Do Not Under Price yourself to make a quick sale, remember a good
gallery never has a mark down sale, a good gallery never places red
tags on merchandise to move it out the door, I learned a long time
ago in galleries, if your prices are much lower than everyone elses,
the customer will see your work as being inferior to the others and
not buy it, if your work does not sell at first and other like it
does, then don’ lower the price “RAISE THE PRICE”, this has worked in
the past for me, if certain baskets do not sell, I have raised the
price by 30+ dollars and VIOLA, out the door it has went.

I will end now by saying if you are close enough to the general area
of the gallery, go look in the galleries see what others are
retailling for, just don’t sell yourself short to get a sale. Know
your market, you will be surprised by what you see.

Good Luck,

Mitchell Webster
Heritage Basket Studio
& Chair Caning
100 Pennie Layne Apt. A
Bridgewater, Virginia 22812