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Pricing for a gallery exhibition


First, Happy Spring holidays to all!

Scenario: I have been accepted to display one of my collections at a
gallery exhibition, with the option to sell my pieces. The owners
told me that my asking price should include 15.5% VAT as well as the
gallery’s commission. Plus, keep in mind that I also need to pay an
upfront fee for insurance, etcan extra expense…

Problem: Adding the VAT + commission to my sale price will indeed
leave me with the end price I want to receive. However, this means
upping the price considerably. I now have my own gallery/studio and
am selling similar items for a lower price, minus the commission. I
am actually exhibiting at the gallery for the publicity, but would
also love to sell something.

Question: Should I cut a loss knowing that I will be getting "free"
publicity? Or, should I add the commission and the VAT (a “must”) to
my asking price, with the buyer paying for the commission? Remember,
I do not want to price my items too high. This may give the
impression that I always sell at exaggerated prices (even in my

Any opinions, guidelines and experience would surely help me come to
a decision!

Thanx and keep shining,

Hi Devora,

I do not want to price my items too high. This may give the
impression that I always sell at exaggerated prices (even in my

It is OK if the prices are a little higher at the exhibition, but
not really good form for you to be underselling the gallery by too
much, since that makes them look bad. It is really a question of how
much the exposure or the boost to your ego is worth for

I put together a gallery exhibit this year that includes both work
that I bought outright and work that is on sale-or-return
consignment. One of the artists got upset when it became apparent
that I was negotiating a different deal with each exhibitor. In her
case it was just one piece that I very much wanted in the show. I was
willing to give her whatever terms she wanted in order to have the
piece for 8 weeks. I guess this is very unusual, but I am dealing
with an unusual group of artists and also included several pieces
that are not for sale from private collections.

Most galleries are going to have a standard set of terms and if you
plan on making money through sales that way, you had better set
prices so that you can. If your prices are so low that you cannot
give the gallery 50% commission and be happy about the sale, your
prices are probably too low. It takes time and money to make things,
but it also takes time and money to sell. In my own business, my
sales expenses and time are more than half the total. We just jacked
up our prices on gold jewelry about 30% and had any unusual sales

I am a little concerned about the gallery asking you to pay for
insurance. I don’t think I have ever heard of that expense being
paid by the artist other than paying for insurance on shipping. Maybe
it is different in your country.

Good luck,
Stephen Walker


Well, VAT aside, aren’t your prices already such that you can take a
commission hit & still make at least some money? Basically, allowing
you to sell at wholesale or consignment, and still be OK? Clearly,
you make more money selling it without anyone else getting a take,
but if, as you say, this is mostly for getting some publicity, then
so long as you’re not losing any money, you’d be happy. Now, with the
VAT, are you not adding the same % when you sell something, just
maybe it’s not already built into the price? Or is this venue in a
totally different place & you don’t normally have to add that same
VAT? Either way, it’s money for the goverment, it’s not you fault the
customer has to pay that extra amount. It just goes from you (or the
gallery, in this case) to the goverment. Just be sure they know it’s
included in the price. I apologize if I’m missing something in your
scenario, but it seems pretty simple to me.

Designs by Lisa Gallagher