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:


Selling on one's own:


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 much.

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 across.

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 simultaneously.

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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