Thanks to all of you for your thoughts on my posting about the
online gallery. I have identified that what bothered me the most was
that I do not care for the woman and her business practices - and
this would be included in that. It seems to me that if a Gallery that
has purchased your work is going to market it on the net - that the
artist should at least be informed about it. I found Charles
Lewton-Brain’s explanation of the legal side - most interesting, and
apparently the Law agrees with my feelings about it. Yet… I do
know of another Gallery that has images of my work on their site, (I
don’t remember giving my “express permission” ) and I don’t mind at
all… One, I respect the owner immensely and have a great
relationship with her - and two, she has it priced it at what I would
consider “fair market value”.
In the vein of “fair market value”: I do understand that some areas
that Galleries reside - do have higher rent, commissions to pay
landlords, etc. In this particular situation - I happen to know that
her son designed the site for her, so her cost was at best less than
average. Still, there are submission costs to search engines etc. I
have no objection what-so-ever for a business to make the profit they
need to make to sell my work. I know that Galleries often add from 1
to 3 % to cover shipping and handling; return aders - etc.
Bottom line - she skunked me on the last order she placed with me,
and I was taking it all personal. She received the order the first
of December last year, and kept it through the holiday, When I
called because she was past due - which took several tries - because
she was always “with a customer” - she finally sent the check,
returning three of the higher end pieces, (of course deducting them
from the invoice amount) stating that her customer base wouldn’t buy
the higher end items. She forgets that my Service/Retail business
was 10 doors down from hers, and I KNOW that they would.
Why in the world would you like to see your work sold for less
than someone thinks they can get for it? If they think your piece
is worth more than you do maybe you are underselling yourself.
And if they bought the piece from you wholesale and have paid for
it they have the right to ask any price they want for it.
I feel I have a pretty good handle on the value of my work. A good
example is that of a very well known Gallery that placed an order in
Baltimore in 99. It was a fairly well selected collection, and I
was looking forward to future orders. When I followed up on several
occasions following the order - I found that it wasn’t selling.
Through talking with other Artists that had done business with them,
I found that they also hiked up the prices considerably. I will
never know for sure - but my suspicion is the same as this situation
- that it didn’t sell because it is over priced.
And yes, I do feel that I have an appreciation for what it takes to
sell a product. I’ve been a business owner and or artist for 20
years. Just what it takes to get my jewelry out there allows for a
pretty fair appreciation, I feel. But I did own a Service and Retail
operation - with at one time 12 employees - in a high rent suburb of
Minneapolis as well.
A jeweler I know was asked why he didn't wholesale and his reply
was "other people will be making money off my work".
I wonder if this person is still in business.
I don’t feel I am an unreasonable person - or business person. If
this Gallery had treated me with the respect that I feel I gave her -
I probably wouldn’t have been as bothered by this. When I changed
careers - I made a promise to myself that I would only do business
with people that I liked. I know to some - this may seem crazy…
But it fits with my values. And I would personally rather make less
money than to compromise that. I like to do business with respectful
people. I’ve built my business by trying to support the Galleries
that support me. Presently - I do only two local Guild Retail shows -
although I am considering changing that. My business is about 75%
wholesale. In addition, my website was also designed to promote the
Galleries that represent me, rather than having it be for direct
selling on the net. Of course all that could change tomorrow given
the present state of the economy. Baltimore should prove very
interesting this year.
Warmest Regards and a Happy Holiday to you all!