The gallery / artist relationship is a precious one that needs careful nurturing by both parties. It should be based on openness, honesty and integrity so that it can flourish and grow.
So we thought we'd share with you a few of the areas of responsibility that we think a gallery has towards its artists and artists to its galleries.
Pay your artist the monies due to them. You wouldn't believe the number of artists who we've spoken to over the years who have struggled to get galleries to pay them the money owed to them. It's astonishing how many galleries suddenly have a rush of sales when an artist contacts them to say they are coming to take their work back! We manage our sales on a monthly basis - whatever is sold in one calendar month is then paid to the artist by the 10th of the following month.
Ensure you have a SOR consignment agreement. This document will cover all sorts of things like commission rates, who should pay for deliveries and collections, insurance and the like. We've recently revised our agreement so if anyone would like a copy of the one we use we're happy to share it with you. For those artists and makers who have been with us for a while we'll be sending you a copy soon!
Display the work well. It seems an obvious thing to say but it can have a huge impact on whether work sells well or not. We try to ensure that an artist's work is shown all together or in a display with other artists and makers that compliments it. We move things around regularly as it's amazing how work will sell by being positioned differently!
Promote & Sell the work. Nowadays most of our promotions either take place across our social media platforms, website/webshop or in local and national publications and via our newsletters which are available in the gallery.
With social media platforms it's really important that posts are regular and visually pleasing - we use a free app called Snapseed to improve our photos! As far as possible we look to post on Instagram once a day using a free app called Tailwind to schedule our posts - makes life so much easier! For Facebook we post 2-3 times a week on the same days and times - they aren't always based around the gallery and we're not averse to publishing an amusing post just to make our followers laugh and keep them engaged! The final platform we use is Mailchimp which we send out twice a month showcasing new work or a particular artist.
We recently moved our website to Shopify using a theme created by a company called Clean Themes both of which we found incredibly easy to use. As I write this I'm listening to a Radio 4 programme that is talking about the changes that will continue in the retail sector where more and more buying will happen online. The next generation of art and contemporary craft buyers are expert internet users and so we need to make sure we're able to meet their way of buying. It still amazes me that we sell so much via our webshop but it means that our reach is global and not just reliant upon those that come through our door. With an online presence our customer base is potentially in the millions rather than the thousands.....can't quite get my head around this one! We'll often find that a customer has seen the work elsewhere and is now sat at home on their phone or tablet browsing the net looking for work by the artist/maker and so our webshop is an important avenue for selling our artists' work.
Communication - it's good to keep in touch with your artists and makers - let them know how things are going, this could be via an email, social media messaging or a phone call. Hands up here as I know this is something that we need to work harder on.....
For artists we'd say......
Communication......yep I know we've just said it above but like any relationship good communication is the key to keeping the partnership working well. Don't be frightened to email/contact your galleries just to see how things are going. If you've got new designs or ideas then feel free to share them - we'll do everything we can to support you.
Promotion......this should be a shared responsibility between you and the gallery. With most artists nowadays having websites and a social media presence it's good to let your followers know where they can find your work. Try to share and like posts when your galleries are promoting your work and we'll do the same by tagging you into posts , sharing posts etc - this is such a great way for everyone to benefit from the rise in social media!
Photography.....it makes a gallery's life a whole lot easier if you can send them images of your work so they can go straight onto the gallery's website/webshop or social media platforms. For a lot of galleries sales via the internet make up a large proportion of their sales so the easier it is to get the work online the better.
Pricing.....make sure you price your work the same wherever they are sold - in galleries, online, from you studio, art fairs etc. As a gallery we will not deal with an artist or maker that sells their work at different prices to us. Therefore you need to be happy with the commission the gallery is taking and this can range from between 30 – 50%. As a gallery that is VAT registered we calculate our commission rates on the nett price so you’ll need to bear this in mind as well.
Presentation.....your work needs to be in tip top condition and ready to be displayed. If you're artwork is framed it's important that it's been framed well and correctly - cheap IKEA frames don't really cut it where original artwork is concerned. There are plenty of better ready made frames out there such as The Ready Made Picture Frame. With ceramics, sculptures, jewellery etc - they should be clean, no bits missing and not falling apart - yep, before you ask we've had stuff arrive like that!
So those are our thoughts......and at the end of the day what we are both trying to achieve is a professional working relationship that should, if it's well managed be a win win for both parties.