Business considerations ... Q&A session
Q: Should I sell my art through middlemen like galleries or
art shops, or try doing it myself (say out on the web, for example)
A: (from David Bull) I'll
try giving a partial answer to this question, although the fact that
I've never used such 'middlemen' may mean that my comments lack a bit
of validity ...
As when making a decision on anything in life, one
needs to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both sides, and
then weigh those factors which seem most important.
Selling through middlemen:
- one can be more 'divorced' from the sales
process, to concentrate on production.
- selling can take place in a wide range of
locations at the same time.
- one's privacy can be more easily
- many of the advertising and promotion costs
are shouldered by the middlemen.
- a considerable percentage of the payment
received will be 'lost' to the middlemen.
- personal contact with the purchasers of the
art will be weak or nonexistent.
- one may lose control over how one's work is
exposed and marketed.
Selling on one's own:
- personal contact with the purchasers will be
- all sales revenue accrues to oneself.
- you retain complete control over the marketing
- a great deal of time must be spent on sales
and marketing, to the probable detriment of the production
- you can only 'cover' as many markets as you
have the time and ability to personally reach.
- the 'cost of doing business' may be high
(advertising, travel, etc.)
- a considerable loss of privacy may be
In my own case, I was adamant from the beginning
that I wanted a great deal of personal contact with the collectors of
my work in order to educate them about the prints, and this seemed to
indicate that I should do my own marketing. When I also factored in
my desire to keep the prices as low as possible, this also pointed to
'cutting out' the middlemen, and thus confirmed that decision.
I then had to consider whether or not the
disadvantages listed would be severe enough to lead to failure, but
by deciding to sell only by subscription I managed to separate my
'sales time' and my 'production time', and by focussing on the very
large and dense local market here in Tokyo I was provided with
adequate sales opportunities without 'stretching' myself too
Your analysis of the
pluses and minuses will presumably be different ...
A: (from James Mundie) If
you can find a dealer that you respect and trust, allowing them to
present and sell your work will save you a great deal of time and
hassle -- time which you can put to good use by making more prints.
Good dealers generally have a wide range of contacts, the sort of
collectors a printmaker working on one's own is unlikely to come
Yes, a great deal of the sale price winds up in
the dealer's pocket, but it is a fair trade if they are doing all the
leg work and introducing your work to "important" collectors.
Personally, I would rather sell my prints through
a number of different dealers in different markets than cart my wares
around from outdoor fair to fair. I simply haven't the patience to
deal with the public like that... I have enough of that sort of
interaction in my non-art jobs. Besides, I can only represent myself
personally in one place at one time... If I work through a number of
different dealers/galleries, I can be selling work in many places
A: (from Robert Rosenthal) When I can I do both.
I go to two or three art shows a year to talk to and listen to my art audience (hopefully present and future clients.) I enjoy demonstrating the printmaking processes of relief and intaglio and seeing their expressions as they learn to appreciate the skills and dedication necessary to make a print.
Print reps, who sell to galleries are a disappearing breed because of our present economy and the internet. They usually sell the paper print at 50% of of retail to a gallery (a normal wholesale discount in the retail art business) and the artist splits that with the rep. In other words the artist gets 25% of the retail. When I sell a print I use that original retail price. I do not undersell my galleries or my rep when I sell wholesale. I believe a rep or a gallery earn their fees. We are in business together.
A: (from ... )
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