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Old 06-20-2019, 11:09 PM
tmdarlin tmdarlin is offline
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Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

I don't have a lot of experience with art shows/exhibits, so I'd like to know if this is a policy I should be expecting from now on-- I entered a painting for a show and delivered the piece. A person called me after delivery and said she saw the piece in my studio (open to the public) and would like to purchase it. So I told the gallery owner that someone outside the show would like to purchase it, and I understand it still goes through them-- meaning, they handle the transaction, they take 40%. But, the gallery owner said she would take only 10%, and I can replace the sold painting with another piece. So i delivered the painting to my customer, they paid the gallery, and I replaced the painting with another. After a month, the art show is over and I pick up my replacement painting because it didn't sell, and I'm expecting a check from the first painting, in which the gallery is taking 10%. But, the gallery owner is now taking 40% because the replacement didn't sell. So apparently they have a policy where if I don't sell the replacement painting, they take 40% off the first painting that sold (that technically sold outside the gallery). So instead of me getting 90%, which is what I was expecting, I'll be getting 60%. Is this a typical policy for art shows?
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:05 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

IME, normally you can't pull a painting once it's in a show, and that is spelled out in the prospectus. So it was nice of them to let you pull the painting and replace it with another, and likewise it was decent of let you take it for a 10% cut, although IMO, they deserved nothing, because it was not selling on account of anything they had done. But I guess I could see them asking for it if your painting had already been hung, because they did work they should be paid for. But then to turn around and demand 40%? Worse, to just TAKE it? They are skeevs. I would not do any more business with them. Or I would not tell them that I had a customer for it and just wait until the show was over and sell it and not give them a cut. Two can play that game.

I had a painting on my site that a couple people expressed interest in, but no one bought it, so I entered it in a show and it got in. The day after I got the notice it was in, one of the people said she wanted to buy the painting. No one even knew it had gotten into any show at that point. I knew that the prospectus said you could not pull a painting once it was accepted, so I told her if no one buys it during the show, it's yours. The gallery had no way at that time for people to buy a painting unless they came to the gallery in person, and my buyer was in another state, so she couldn't buy it through the show. I offered her the price I had it at on my site rather than the price with the gallery's cut included. She didn't know I had jacked up the price for the gallery. As far as I was concerned, the gallery had nothing to do with that painting selling, so they did not deserve a cut from its sale. I said nothing to the gallery.

No one did buy it from the show, and the woman who wanted it bought it frame and all the day after the show closed--at the studio price.

I talked to one of the people in charge of the show on pickup day and told her in a joking way about having a customer for it the day it got in. She told me they would have been okay with me pulling it *before it got hung*. To me that is fair. Nor did she ask for anything from the sale.

As far as I am concerned, if I sell the painting without anything having been done by the gallery, the gallery doesn't get anything. Yes, I know all about the contracts that stipulate you can't do this. I also know that 1/3 of artists experience being cheated by galleries, their frames stolen, paintings never returned, never paid for paintings that sold, gallery goes out of business and the artists are SOL. Or they just lie, like yours did. So if it's okay for so many of them to do that, it's okay for us to sell out the back door when we did all the selling.
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:02 AM
tmdarlin tmdarlin is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

Thank you so much for your response. It was weird because I was perfectly willing to have the painting stay in the show and for the gallery to get its 40%, despite the sale coming from an outside customer. And I told them about the customer the day after it was delivered, so it wasn't hung yet. They mentioned using the painting for advertising, which wasn't finished yet either-- but as I mentioned, I was fine with them getting the initial cut. But then to say that they'll only be taking 10%, and I could just take it out of the show and replace it with another? No mention of the policy in writing or verbally because they don't like to "advertise" it. So they gave me the impression that I should have known a policy like this, that they were doing me a favor in letting me replace the painting with another-- which I understand that part... but knowing this policy? Seems like I just need to be extra cautious everytime I apply for a show. Or like you mentioned, I'll just keep my mouth shut when it comes to an outside customer. I know artists that don't even bother with shows because of all the problems/grey areas, just like you stated.
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Old 06-22-2019, 08:06 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

Something I have been trying to stick to re entering shows is only enter shows that are sponsored by organizations or museums. I have noticed that some galleries, perhaps many, regularly run competitions which are basically just a way for them to produce income from entry fees. For example, a small local gallery owned by an artist has regularly run competitions and typically gets 300 entries at $40/a pop, so $12,000 per competition, with usually a competition run every 2-3 months. That's not chump change. It doesn't give a lot of motivation to actually do the gallery's job of selling the art.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:51 PM
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it'sALLart it'sALLart is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

I had a gallery in an arts district give me a solo show in 2007. The day we were hanging the show, a man saw the works from the street and came in to say he wanted to buy one of the works even before it was on the wall. I said he could do so, but we'd like to hang it in the show anyway with a red dot. He was OK with that. Once he left, the gallery owner (now seeing that my work might actually sell well) rushed up to me and - regardless of our contract - upped her percentage from 35 to 50 percent on the spot. I had a lot invested in the show and knew she could be a temperamental nutcase if she didn't get her way, so I let it slide. I ended up selling a few more pieces during the show and after that show as well. The finished works I sold through her gallery she got the commissions for. The ones I sold on my own after that point she did not - regardless of where they saw the work.

During the show, a woman approached me for a custom commission. I said I'd be agreeable to it, but I'd get in contact with her after that night. She said fine and left the show without speaking to the gallery owner. I figured if the gallery owner could break our contract, so could I. I did the commission and the gallery owner got zilch from me.

Play b*tch games, win b*tch prizes, I always say. Don't mess with the people who are actually creating the art, they are the ones that are providing you the merchandise with which your business makes a profit.

There are good galleries and bad galleries. If a gallery is not breaking their own rules and is treating you with respect, you should respect them and treat them as well as they treat you and it will be a profitable relationship for both parties. It sounds like they observed their own rules, but perhaps didn't fill you in quite fully as they should have on how they worked.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:17 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

Quote:
Originally Posted by it'sALLart
Once he left, the gallery owner (now seeing that my work might actually sell well) rushed up to me and - regardless of our contract - upped her percentage from 35 to 50 percent on the spot.
Geez, what a jerk! I'm glad you still made money off the show, but I think I would have blown my stack.
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:02 PM
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it'sALLart it'sALLart is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

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Originally Posted by Harold Roth
Geez, what a jerk! I'm glad you still made money off the show, but I think I would have blown my stack.




You have no idea! She was a spoiled "daddy's girl" with a father that had a ton of money and lived in another country and also owned the building. You'd think that would have led to a compassionate, giving spirit... but no. I also was doing her website at the time and when I came back to get my work, I also handed her all the info for it and quit that gig entirely. She threatened to sue me if I didn't continue with her. I told her that slavery ended sometime in the 1860s in our country and gave her the number of my lawyer.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:41 PM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmdarlin
I don't have a lot of experience with art shows/exhibits, so I'd like to know if this is a policy I should be expecting from now on-- I entered a painting for a show and delivered the piece. A person called me after delivery and said she saw the piece in my studio (open to the public) and would like to purchase it. So I told the gallery owner that someone outside the show would like to purchase it, and I understand it still goes through them-- meaning, they handle the transaction, they take 40%. But, the gallery owner said she would take only 10%, and I can replace the sold painting with another piece. So i delivered the painting to my customer, they paid the gallery, and I replaced the painting with another. After a month, the art show is over and I pick up my replacement painting because it didn't sell, and I'm expecting a check from the first painting, in which the gallery is taking 10%. But, the gallery owner is now taking 40% because the replacement didn't sell. So apparently they have a policy where if I don't sell the replacement painting, they take 40% off the first painting that sold (that technically sold outside the gallery). So instead of me getting 90%, which is what I was expecting, I'll be getting 60%. Is this a typical policy for art shows?

It's not typical that they'd take only 10% to begin with. But it's not typical to have dealings like this without something in writing. It also isn't cool for the gallery to change their tune, or to not be upfront and clear about what you should expect if the second "replacement" painting didn't sell--thought I've never even heard of a replacement painting. I mean, if that's a thing, I'm not aware. The percentages are the percentages. If it's in the show, it's in the show and the gallery gets the commission. If your buyer saw the piece before the show, you should have sold it before you promised it for the show. Once it was slated for the show, all deals are off and there shouldn't be a private sale.

It's important to get these things in writing with your gallery--before things take place to avoid precisely this kind of situation.

Last edited by Artyczar : 06-23-2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 06-29-2019, 01:34 PM
contumacious contumacious is online now
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

My guess is they regretted offering you only a 10% commission and made up the deal about falling back to the 40% because the replacement didn't sell so they wouldn't have to stick to what they said. Frankly it was not too smart of them to make the 10% offer, but they did. I would have asked to see that rule in writing with my signature on it, before accepting the check for the lesser amount.

If it really was not their written policy - just made up on the spot, had you asked at the time to get the 10% deal in writing, my bet is there would have been no attempt later to alter the agreement with it going up to 40% for any reason when you picked up the check, unless they are brazen as well as dishonest.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:25 AM
Dave Owen Dave Owen is offline
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Re: Policy for Selling Artwork Outside of Art Exhibit

You get some good ones and then you can get some bad ones.

Worst gallery I ever dealt with was one that offered a show to me then failed to do any advertising, announcements etc and still wanted 45% comm on sales. Out of 65 paintings hung only 4 sold to general gallery visitors. A lot of work with virtually no return. I never dealt with them again.

Best gallery was a local one to me, Gave me a solo show, advertised it everywhere they could, arranged a preview evening, got local press involved etc etc....
Sold 52 out of the 54 paintings on show and also reduced their 35% comm down to 25% as it had been a very successful show. They also offered me another show for the following year which I took up and it was a sell out. Did a show for them several times after that until I stopped painting 3 years ago, But they still contact me once in a while and ask if I have started again. If I ever go back to painting for a living they will be top of the list of first people to contact.

IMHO. if a gallery goes back on an "agreement/offer" they make with a artist then you are better away from them. If a gallery wants a very high comm but gives little in return then you better away from them.
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