View Full Version : approached by gallery, want advice...

03-21-2006, 04:51 PM
i've recently had a gallery emailing me. they emailed about a year ago, and i dont' remember responding at all. but this time i have, and they seem to want me to come visit, bring some work in. they are newer, i think they had just opened when they contacted me the first time. i am wondering, should i trust such a thing? dont' galleries usually have ppl flocking to them? i somehow feel leery, but have been given no reason for such, i've never seen this place, but yet i haven't heard about it either. is there some things i could do to protect myself but yet try to take advantage of what may be a good thing? i'd sure love to hear other's opinions and advice. thank you

Kathryn Wilson
03-21-2006, 05:17 PM
Chewie, unless they are asking for money, what do you have to lose (keeping in mind all of your hesitation and reasons for that hesitation).

It certainly wouldn't hurt to look into it and if it doesn't suit you, a polite "no thanks" would be all you'd have to do.

03-21-2006, 05:31 PM
Chewie, do they have a website? Do you know where they are located? Can you go visit the place to get a good idea in person? Who are the other artists in their gallery? You might get their names and venture to give them a call or else email them if they have their own websites. Just to gather info. It's hard to know without some more info what could be a really great place to showcase your work! Good luck!

03-21-2006, 06:09 PM
the owner just emailed me back, answering some of those very questions, of which i asked ealier today--the website will be up in a couple weeks, they currently are displaying 14 other artists, the owner herself is a potter. i am now feeling better, she is sounding a bit more feasible now. (somehow, an email outta the blue makes me leery, i've heard some horror stories!) and, its only 1.5 hours away, in a town i do enjoy visiting and shopping in. soooo, i am planning a trip within the next month!! i do think a short but concise contract of sorts may be in order--like if they fold, my work doesn't go to fund their bankruptcy!! i narrowly missed that sort of thing once before, and dont' feel like joining that part again!! and like kyle says, i dont' have alot to loose, my stuff just sits in boxes in my basement as it is now, and i KNOW that's not getting me anywhere!! if anyone else has something to add, or for me to keep in mind, please jump in!! thank you!

03-21-2006, 06:09 PM
If they are new and seem legit - make sure you have some sort of written agreement with them on commissions etc. Saves you a bit of stress until they have proven reliable

lol - great minds think alike - we crossposted

03-21-2006, 08:26 PM
You are taking the correct first step chewie. Go to the gallery, look at the work already there. Does it support the quality of work you do or are you going to be the "star" of the gallery? It is better to be a part of a gallery that represents like quality work.

While there, ask the owner for names and phone numbers of some of the other artists. Choose to ask for some names of artists of the best work. If she is on the up and up, she should be willing to give you this information so you can check out several things:
Ask the artists how long they've had work in the gallery.
Ask them how often they've had work sell through this gallery.
Ask them how prompt the owner is in paying them.
Ask how often they are asked for new work.
Ask how communicative is the owner. Does she call often to discuss your work or if she has a question she needs answered by a prospective customer?
Ask how much advertising this gallery does.

Ask some of the same questions of the gallery owner. Sometimes what an owner says, and what they actually do are two entirely different things. You want to know:
How prompt is the owner in paying for sold work? At the very longest, it should be within 30 days of a sale.

How often does she ask for new work? Galleries that don't change the inventory on a regular basis don't keep customers coming through the doors because the customers get tired of seeing "old" work.

How much and where does this gallery advertise? I think the importance of this question is self evident, but you might also ask if the artists are expected to help pay for the advertising. Some places do this.

If there is an artists' reception, who is responsible for expenses? This varies greatly from region to region. Check with other galleries & artists in the area to find out what is customary in your area.

If a potential customer wants a change of frame, what is the gallery policy? Although the painting and frame are a "package deal", we can't always anticipate what a client wants. A good sales person will attempt to make the client understand that they are buying a painting, and the frame may be changed but at the client's expense. If that isn't possible, then the gallery should be willing to contact you and ask how much you are willing to deduct from the price of the work. Under no circumstances should they take it upon themselves to reduce the price of your work unless they are willing to pay your entire fee. (the price of the work minus their commission.) In otherwords if they can't or don't ask you for a reduction in price, they will take any loss in sale price - your fee will remain the same.

Does this gallery do framing? Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes not. If they are trying to sell their frames, be sure you don't cheat yourself by taking too much off the price of your work. You have a right to add a fee of consideration for you having to get the old frame back in what may or may not be good condition. i.e. if the frame you've used cost you $75, and you have no idea of what condition it is in now, deduct only $30 - $50 from your selling price. Which leads me to another thought.

What happens if you deliver a frame in prefect condition, but the gallery damages it? Cover that concern before you leave any thing there. If necessary get that too in writing. Don't let them try to tell you that they never damage frames. I worked in a gallery for 14 years, and even the best galleries inadvertently occassionally damage frames. Fortunately for the artists we represented, we had a frame shop and always made good on any damage we did.

Does the gallery have insurance covering damage or loss of work? Our gallery had two robberies. Another time part of the roof blew off one winter during an awful storm, and although most of the work was just fine, a couple paintings had water damage. The gallery's insurance paid the artists' fees, but not the gallery's commission. In otherwords, the artists were paid as though the work had sold, but the gallery had no income from the loss.

I think you can see that if you choose not to participate in this gallery, you have nothing to loose by investigating it. However, if you do become a part of this gallery, you will have plenty to loose if you don't investigate fully.

I'm sure I've probably missed a point or two, but someone else can fill you in on whatever that may be. :)

Good luck, I hope this will be a place that offers you a good opportunity to sell your fine paintings.


Donna A
03-21-2006, 09:19 PM
Hi, Chewie!!! You are getting some very excellent information! Peggy has really brought up some particularly excellent issues!!!

I'm going to upload a pdf file on promoting yourself from some notes I've taken. Sounds like this is worth looking into. Hope it turns out very well! You certainly have some beautiful paintings!!!! Very best wishes!!! Donna ;-}

Paula Ford
03-21-2006, 09:23 PM
Rating this thread. Excellent information for any artist contemplating going with a gallery.


03-21-2006, 10:24 PM
wow, ask and i did receive!! peggy, thank you sooo much. i had some thoughts of things to find out, but you brought up tons more that i usually dont' think of til after the fact! i will be certain to use all you've suggested. i am also approaching another gallery this weekend, so i am feeling alot more prepared. i printed out your post, i'll need to refer to it often.

donna, thank you too, that is also a great print out to keep on file.

i find some of this stuff hard to talk to the gallery staff about, but in not doing so, i am setting myself up for hardship. i also think that by not asking, i may look like a greenhorn!! none of which has a positive outcome. so, with your knowledge in hand, here i go!! THANK YOU!

Rose Queen
03-21-2006, 11:05 PM
Don't forget to check out the Art Business forum, too; there've been lots of discussions on galleries, gallery agreements, etc.

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Deborah Secor
03-22-2006, 12:01 AM
Showing work in a gallery is a bit like a building a friendship. It takes a little time to grow to understand and trust each other, and I believe in good solid discussion about the 'what-ifs' along with a simple but tight contract delineating what you and they agree to. However, I'd also keep in mind that no contract will cover everything. In your situation I'd suggest a vist, a long talk, and some thoughtful consideration about the people you meet and the situation.

Every gallery in the world was new at one time and had to go out and find artists to represent, so the good questions that Peggy metioned may not all apply to this situation. A new gallery might not have an advertising budget yet--but see what they plan or hope to do. They might not have a track record of sales yet, but at least you should find out what they plan to do. Thirty days is standard, and they should have a certain date each month by which you can expect to hear from them if things have sold.

I've had a ten-year relationship with a gallery in Santa Fe and over time we've come to be a bit more trusting and relaxed about things. I try to give, they try to give, and it works. It's taken time to get there, but it's been worth it. For instance, they're careful about frames but once in a while something happens. Once a small framed piece fell off the wall and broke the frame corner and the glass. I took a small loss--no biggie for me in that case. Occasionally a customer comes in who has bought a lot of work from the gallery (not always from me) over the years. They'll give a small discount and they know I'll accept it. I don't have a big ego over my painting's value and they know I'd rather sell than not. Happily, we split the discount. (This gallery pays every day--so if they sell something they cut me a check and send it that day! That's a good gallery!!)

So, go in and see if you think you can do business with thee people, stay a little flexible while covering the solid basics (a good contract), and see if you think it will work out. Talking business with someone you plan to do business with shouldn't be troubling to them! Asking good questions is a great way to start the discussion, and you might even bring up something they haven't thought about yet. Being a greenhorn is okay, too! Open up, ask, learn--this may be the start of a good relationship--and maybe a friendship, too.


03-22-2006, 09:55 AM
thanks debra, i will also keep your ideas in mind. i agree that being new doesn't mean something to avoid! and its so close to home, if it would work out, it'd be a sweet situation. i think some time ago, there was talk of contracts. does anyone have a basic one for stuff like this, or a place i can go looksee? i'll run a search over in the bus. forum too. and i think getting all this out within the begining of the relationship will make it easier to HAVE a relationship--not as many surprises later on that can leave either side feeling dumped on.

i am feeling so much more relaxed and cabable of dealing with this situation, cuz now i don't seem to be flying by the seat of my pants, with all this great info. thanks to all.

Kitty Wallis
03-22-2006, 01:09 PM
I want to agree with Deborah and go one step further. I have never asked for or signed a contract with a gallery. I'm represented in galleries across the country.

I personally believe that serious trouble comes from people who can't be trusted no matter what the contract says. There aren't that many people like that. I don't want to assume that the people I'm working with are that. So I approach the new gallery relationship with trust and appreciation for what they have accomplished and what they plan to do for my work. This has worked for me for 30 years.

03-22-2006, 08:39 PM
so kitty, then do you have a discussion with a new contact? or just hope for the best? i hate surprises, and have had enough of them, or seen enough of my friends get really burnt that i am not sure how to go about it. i agree tho., i'd love to simply be in a trusting situation, as i am honest and am going into this in good faith on both my and their parts. please elaborate kitty!