An Artist Relationship With A Gallery

Art News - March Art News - March

A Coast Gallery Topic

As an artist it’s important to ask yourself “what are your ethical obligations to a gallery that is representing your work and how can you help make this a successful fruitful relationship with the gallery to build your reputation, confidence and sales?

Studio sales are important, but understand that the gallery that represents you needs to make sales in order to survive. They put their time, money, and marketing efforts in to representing an artist exposing them to many opportunities of sales with their cliental and collectors through events, artist openings and shows. So the gallery that represents you should be included on any sales that result from having your work in their gallery or on display through the gallery website and/or social media.

As much as gallery owners would like to think, not all collectors are loyal. IoT (Internet of Things) has changed the way we purchase and seek out art nowadays, but Galleries are solid and still hold key to representation. Some buyers will approach the artist because they expect a deal, assuming that the artist will charge them a price that discounts the gallery commission. This is strictly a NO-NO (though sometimes suggested in complete innocence), unless, maybe, it is your mother, sister, or brother who is asking, and we all know there are exceptions. Once the artist has any gallery representation and/or track record of sales, prices need to be consistent for any show, gallery, or studio sale, so the artist can move up across the board as a sales record is built.

A good example would be if someone has purchased your work for “X” amount, they don’t want to see or hear of the same-size piece being offered or sold for less than “X.” Also, if you attract buyers to your studio by undercutting your gallery, the gallery really has no reason to keep you on board. A collector who has bought work at half price from the artist studio will never buy anything from the gallery that is representing you. So if the gallery is working hard on your behalf trying to advance your career and your pocketbook, and you as the artist attempt to poach collectors and steal sales from the gallery that represents you . . . what is in it for them? Why would the gallery at this point have any reason to continue to promote, display, or sell your artwork? Any artist needs to carefully think about longevity in their career. Remember if an artist has to do their own marketing, selling, and events, then how are they going to continue to focus on the best part of their work. Collectors will work you, as they do the galley at some point, and the work will lack confidence and relevance over time. Why would you as an artist want to be a one hit wonder and/or build yourself a bad reputation in the art world? Artist need to think long term . . . not short term, or they end up at the bottom of the list.

If anyone wants to purchase a piece of your artwork, you can refer them to the gallery to pay. For whatever reason if they want the sale from you, by all means do so, but at least work out a smaller commission with your gallery if this occurs.

At Coast Gallery we discuss these topics with our artist because we want good relationships long term. We will always share feedback and have an open forum with our collectors to feel at one with the artist. If our collectors love the artist they will continue to purchase new pieces at all future show events, and we will happily keep putting these show events on for the artist. Remember a good artist and gallery relationship is like a marriage . . . honesty and integrity are important in building a long lasting bond!