Monday, 5 October 2009

Taking a Pound of Flesh....

In my previous post Artist/Gallery Agreements I talked about the gallery precentage on sales. This can vary from 20% to above 50%. How does this affect you as the artist?



Whoever sells your work for you deserves to get paid for doing it. Whether they are acting as an agent or a bricks and mortar gallery/shop they will need to be recompensed for their services. This usually takes the form of a percentage of the sales cost. Percentages can vary wildly and you may feel a bit shocked at the gallery who adds 60% onto your wholesale price. This may take your £25 print up to a whopping £ !

Is this fair? well yes and no (but mostly yes)
Forget about the percentage at the moment. If you are selling your work through a gallery you need to sell it at the right price - enough to cover your materials, overheads and make a small profit - enough to make it worth the gallery adding a percentage without overpricing the item. If a gallery asks you to reduce your costs so that they can add their % and still be able to sell the item then this is not the gallery for you. (Pricing your work is a subject that will be discussed in the future).

So, you are happy to sell your hand pressed lino prints at £80 a print and the gallery is adding 50% to the price - retailing your print at £160.
If your reaction to this is "I could sell this for that price myself!" then the bald answer is "Go on then - why are you wasting the gallery's time?"
If your reaction to this is "that's way overpriced, they'll never sell it!" you need to ask the gallery the following:
  • Does the gallery think that this is a competitive price for your print?
  • What type of customer buys this style of art?
  • Are they confident that they can help you to raise your profile as an artist and bring sales?

It's not in the interest of a gallery to make the work overpriced and unsaleable. They know their customers and their tastes, they know the value of art and they are not in the busoiness of ripping people off.

Why take a percentage? Everyone has to eat. Galleries have their own overheads, publicity costs, staff wages and maintenance charges to pay.

When taking a percentage doesn't work.

  • When your work is selling at another local gallery for a lower price. Undercutting a gallery that could possibly bring you more sales is like shooting yourself in the foot. Better to choose WHICH of the galleries you would prefer to sell through.
  • When you agree to sell your art to someone who has seen it in the gallery but doesn't want to pay the percentage, thus depriving the gallery of the opportunity to broker a sale and, consequently their fee. You have had their services of displaying your work in their gallery for free and they didn't get any payment for it.

If you are unhappy with a gallery because they can't sell your work at their retail price then don't do business with them. Simple As.

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