If you are represented by a gallery, you need to work WITH them in order to make the most of the relationship. While this may seem obvious, in today’s world of Internet sales, many artists make the mistake of actually competing with their galleries.
I’ve seen artists who offer their work for sale directly from their web sites at a discount (sometimes up to 50%!) from retail. This is a terrible way to do business. In doing so, the artist is practically guaranteeing that their work will not increase in value and that discounting will be expected in the future by collectors. Also, how can a gallery possibly compete with a pricing that does not factor in their commission?
Artists need to realize that having a well-established gallery behind them is worth its weight in gold. I work with 4 commercial galleries in New York City, Philadelphia, New Hope, PA and Naples, FL. Each of them provides me with a much broader reach to prospective collectors than I could ever manage on my own. Additionally, they provide credibility–having your work marketed by a reputable gallery says “this work has our stamp of approval”, that is worth a lot to a prospective collector.
So, how do you make the most of your gallery relationships? Here is what has worked for me:
– Keep your pricing consistent among the galleries as well as with any sales you make directly from your studio.
– Give the galleries your retail price and allow them some leeway (typically 10%) to discount without having to notify you first (any additional discounting of course must be discussed individually).
– Promote the work you have in the galleries on your website, blog and Facebook page, and list the gallery contact information for each specific piece rather than having prospective collectors contact you directly. You have to make up your mind–are you in the direct sales business or are you a represented artist?
– Stay current with your inventory, send the gallery JPEGs of your new paintings as soon as they are completed and list them on your Facebook page and other online venues along with the gallery contact info.
– Discuss joint marketing efforts with your galleries, be sure they have the info they need to list your work on THEIR online pages as well.
– Promote their events even if you are not taking part in them–by doing so you are driving traffic to their shops and someone might ask about your work even if it is not in that specific exhibit.
Making a living in this business is not easy, but it is much easier if you work with the people that can help you rather than against them!