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Getting into Galleries

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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 10:19   #1
nickderry
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Getting into Galleries

As one of my new year's resolutions was to try and reduce the big pile of paintings that are lying around in my flat, I've decided that I need to get them into more galleries. As some of you already send plenty of stuff to galleries I was hoping for some advice....

I've decided that as there is a general lack of bird art in France compared to the UK and other countries that the best thing to do would be to write some letters, but I'm not sure what I should say. "Please could you possibly do me the great favour of...." or "I want to sell these, you're a gallery..." etc etc.

Also as I've been well and truly fleeced by a couple of appalling people in France as regards galleries (I can't have my unsold pictures back unless I buy the frame - apparently!) I'd like to know what sort of things I should stipulate to prevent this happening.

Any advice is gratefully received, I hope the above makes sense, I only slept for two hours last night and this coffee is just not strong enough!

cheers

Nick
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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 11:53   #2
Keith Glasgow
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I'm not qualified to fully answer your question as I only use one gallery, but here's my thoughts.

Research the galleries - find those where you think your work would be suited. Look for good galleries in good locations. I've had small dingy looking galleries in out-of-the-way villages ask to display my work - I think this could lower the image of my work for other galleries, so I've refused. I'd write to the gallery and ask for an opportunity to introduce yourself and your work to the owner. Don't undersell yourself either. Good galleries can take 50% of the selling price, but they may sell more paintings for you. Someone once said to me "better to have 50% of a painting priced at £1,000, than 75% of the same painting priced at £500". I'd aim high and be selective, and be prepared for refusals.

As for frames, my gallery prefers me to use a standard size canvas so they can simply remove the frame and return me the painting if it doesn't sell. I do use oils however, so this may be easier than for watercolours. It does however place certain restrictions on the sizes of my paintings and the frames used - I'm not entirely happy with the situation.

I'd be cautious of recently opened galleries, and try rather for galleries with years of experience, and a good customer base.

That's some of my humble musings - tho' my gallery sold a 24" x 18" for me at the weekend at £995.00 (they framed it), and I got the cheque this morning for £500.00 in the post, so.......

Keith.
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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 15:18   #3
nickderry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Glasgow View Post
I'm not qualified to fully answer your question as I only use one gallery, but here's my thoughts.

Research the galleries - find those where you think your work would be suited. Look for good galleries in good locations. I've had small dingy looking galleries in out-of-the-way villages ask to display my work - I think this could lower the image of my work for other galleries, so I've refused. I'd write to the gallery and ask for an opportunity to introduce yourself and your work to the owner. Don't undersell yourself either. Good galleries can take 50% of the selling price, but they may sell more paintings for you. Someone once said to me "better to have 50% of a painting priced at £1,000, than 75% of the same painting priced at £500". I'd aim high and be selective, and be prepared for refusals.

As for frames, my gallery prefers me to use a standard size canvas so they can simply remove the frame and return me the painting if it doesn't sell. I do use oils however, so this may be easier than for watercolours. It does however place certain restrictions on the sizes of my paintings and the frames used - I'm not entirely happy with the situation.

I'd be cautious of recently opened galleries, and try rather for galleries with years of experience, and a good customer base.

That's some of my humble musings - tho' my gallery sold a 24" x 18" for me at the weekend at £995.00 (they framed it), and I got the cheque this morning for £500.00 in the post, so.......

Keith.
That's excellent advide, particularly about not underselling myself, one that I rescued from the evil gallery here would have made me €100, or £65. One of my best wallcreeper paintings too! Congrats on the sale!
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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 15:27   #4
timwootton
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Excellent advice from Keith (and well done on the sale!).
What I would emphasise is the contract side of things - check out what the gallery commission is and what their framing costs are. What I try to do is get the gallery to write off the cost of framing UNLESS I want the framed painting back - I then, of course, pay for the work they have done. When a piece sells, the gallery gets to charge for the frame PLUS their commission- the balance comes to me (not often enough, mind you!). Don't forget - you are supplying the gallery with top class work for them to make a commission on. You're doing them the favour.
NB - keep meticulous records about which gallery has what paintings, when they received them, agreed price etc. Keep your work moving around from place to place - paintings have a habit of gathering dust on one particular wall.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 20:18   #5
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Hi Nick... don't know about the law in foreign places, but the basic good practice in Britain is something called a 'consignment note'. It states what you're leaving with the gallery and any 'understandings' you have like commission and framing, in writing for them to sign when you drop the artwork off. It only needs to be a simple thing, like a receipt. Google 'consignment note' and I'm sure stuff'll be out there.

Kieth's covered it pretty much, and I'd second the research bit - he's obviously got a good relationship with the gallery. I'd say that's the key thing really, talk to the gallery owner, be approachable and professional and you'll get a feel for whether they're going to be a good bet... so I'd start with local places you can drive to and visit in person.

And best of luck. I hate work hanging around once it's finished.
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 00:32   #6
nickderry
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I popped into the 'evil' gallery today, all smiles as I am usually (and so nervous I thought I was going to have a coronary!) it turns out that there was a misunderstanding, I'm under no obligation to buy the frame, but as it was made to measure I might wish to buy it for an interesting price. So I'll go and get my Marsh Tit back at the end of the month, and probbly buy the frame with it (for cheaper than I was quoted the last time). All is good!
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 00:52   #7
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Happy to hear you can get your painting back Nick...

Luck with future gallery sales. Definitely worth the effort to forge a great relationship with a reputable gallery owner from the sounds of things.

Some really good advice given in response to your initial post - nice to have such expert sources to poll.

Cheers :)
Chris
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 17:54   #8
ivywall
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Hi Nick!

It's blooming hard work being an artist sometimes isn't it? LOL You can be very exploited. There's a good reason why they are pictured as 'starving in attics' .
OH has always made a living but by going down a commercial path and basically 'prostituting' his skills and diversifying into sign and mural work and using special paint effects such as distressing and reproduction of other works.

My sister says that in France the uneducated populace tends to view her and her OH on a similar level as gypsies! She's lived near Dinan and Rennes in Brittany for 15 years now. She mostly uses English galleries to show her work and also does a lot of mural and window work. There's a few galleries listed on her site here -

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/artistsm...s/CAROLINE.htm

Pat X
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 18:04   #9
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Intesting thread full of great advice. Will be approaching a few galleries myself here in Stockholm in a couple of months, after doing a bit of research on them. Have been nervous of galleries in the past, but now recognize their worth in helping artist's to forge a reputation for themselves.
Luckily, due to a history of quite superb wildlife painters from Bruno Lillefors onwards, the swedish populace is rather accustomed to wildlife art and many of the barriers with regard to it being taken seriously as art in it's own right have been broken down. Hoping that can help me find a good gallery here in Stockholm where I might make a regular sale or two...
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Old Thursday 10th January 2008, 22:01   #10
Mouldy
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Hi Nick, best advice I can think of re galleries is visit the place first incognito and see what they already have on display, you can usually tell straight away if it's right for your work or not, and if so follow it up afterwards by sending a professional looking information pack containing letter of introduction asking for a meeting, artist statement/cv on one sheet, a copy of any recent published press cuttings about your work and a CD of no more than a dozen images (cheaper than printing them off). Follow up with a phone call in a couple of weeks if you hear nowt but if they're interested they usually get back pretty sharpish I find.
What happens next is down to how agreeable their house rules are and what you can negotiate. A good gallery interested in your work should be there to help you, if they act like they're doing you a favour it doesn't bode well for a good relationship.
Good luck (bon chance?)
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