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Negotiating With Galleries - Part 3

by Lori Woodward Simons on 6/18/2009 9:27:53 AM

This Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  Find out how you can be a guest author.

Getting Names of Our Collectors

If we artists remember that weíre in a partnership with our galleries, and if that partnership is built upon mutual trust, thereís no good reason why gallery owners should avoid giving us the names and contact information of those who collect our work. 

But how do we ask for those names diplomatically?  It gets easier if youíve been working with a gallery for awhile because you've already established trust. But even then, dealers are fearful that we ask for contact names so that we can sell behind their backs. In my own experience, Iíve found it helpful to explain to my dealers (in a letter or verbally) how my having access to names increases the likelihood of gallery sales.

Here are some of the reasons why a gallery owner might benefit from my having contact information of those who buy my work.

The Advantages of An Email Newsletter

When folks are interested in my work, I can ask them to subscribe to my email newsletter. That way, when I have a new artwork completed, I can post it in my newsletter with a link to the gallery. Additionally, my newsletters can cement images of my work in collectors' minds.

By making my email newsletters interesting - talking about why I paint certain subjects and what they mean to me - I provide collectors with insight into my background and what subject matter gets me motivated. This way, I show them that I don't paint purely for commercial reasons. If they are interested in buying one of my paintings, they have more information to make my name and images memorable.

Newsletters educate and inform collectors so that they begin to think of art collecting as an ongoing part of their lives. I like to include a bit of art history, why I paint, where I paint etc. This establishes a stronger connection between those who already love my work and the general idea of continuing to collect. It whets their appetites for collecting even when they havenít been in the gallery for a while. 

Sending newsletters to a target audience is far less expensive than purchasing magazine ads. These days, ads cut deeply into the gallery's budget, and have far greater risk financially than "permission marketing" - meaning getting permission from folks to send them pertinent information.

Partnership Marketing

My contacting the gallery gives the gallery owner a break - some of the legwork is done by me, the artist. This way the gallery doesnít have to worry about contacting all of their clients all the time. My ability to do this for the gallery establishes me as a stronger player in their gallery. Sometimes a gallery may forget to promote their lesser known artists while they spend most of their time promoting the artists who already have high visibility.

When I have the names of those who have interest in my work, I have the ability to take promotion into my own hands. This ability allows me to market my work to those who already enjoy it Ė which in turn may increase gallery sales.

Ethics Goes Both Ways

In order for me to get access to this information, my honesty must be flawless. If I sell for a lesser price or secretly behind the galleryís back, then perhaps I donít deserve their representation. Itís far easier to get names from your galleries if you sell only through commercial dealers and not on your own.  Even if you do sell directly from your website, EBay or other venues, it still makes sense for the dealer to share names of your buyers.

Collectors Always Pay Retail for My Work

So when does the gallery deserve a commission, and when do I deserve the commission?

If the client first found out about my work at the gallery, or a magazine ad placed by the gallery,or has actually purchased my work from that gallery, I automatically send the gallery their commission.

When the collector has seen my work on my website, at an outdoor show or invitational show that I participated in, I am the sales person, so I get the commission. What this means is that the buyer always pays the retail price - same as if they bought it through the gallery.

When Iíve asked my dealers for names and addresses, I've never been turned down. Why?  Because I'm trustworthy. Honesty goes both ways, and when you have established a long and truthful relationship with a gallery dealer, you gain the freedom to work with them hand in hand.


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Related Posts:

Negotiating with Art Galleries

A New Kind of Gallery Relationship

Negotiating with Art Galleries - Part 2

Will Your Galleries Balk at Your Web Site?

Gallery Protectionism: Poor Thinking and Poor Marketing

Topics: Art Business | Gallery/Artist Relationship | Lori Woodward Simons 

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Michael Hollis
via web

I apprecite your thoughts but wonder about several different situations:
1) What happens when a dealer artist relationship ends? Does the artist continue to contact the collector?
2) What the does the artist do about collectors (whose information was given to them by their dealer)who then receive the artists newsletter and find work at another gallery that represents that artist?
3) What about collectors who dont mention that they were introduced to the artists through the gallery, but then go to the artists website and subscribe to their newsletter?


Lori Woodward Simons
via web
Wow... all good questions and some that I've pondered myself.

When I've ended relationships with galleries, if someone contacts me within a year of my leaving, I go ahead and send the gallery the commission - if that's where they first saw my art.

When someone has seen my art at several galleries but has not purchased from any one of them in the past, I guess it is OK for me to get the commission - as I am also a gallery (and they pay retail anyway). Wow, this is a sticky one to answer.

Anyone have any ideas on this - if someone sees my work at several galleries and in multiple ads and then contacts me directly?

I'll have to think about that, because when I do outdoor shows, I keep the commission on my sales no matter where they saw my work. I guess in that case, I'm just one of the galleries.

We should begin a discussion here. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Michael Hollis
via web

Here are some thoughts.

1) If the artist continues to market to the clients after the relationship has ended then whatever sales come from that represent potential lost sales to the gallery. The gallery, presumably, will also continue to market to these clients and try and sell them on another artist or work. This would make every artist a potentially competing gallery in the future.

2 and 3) it’s right that a client should pay full retail no matter where they buy. But I see a different problem here.
Let’s say you think of yourself as both the artist and a gallery for that same artist. You then put all your other galleries at a disadvantage.
Each gallery spends time and money generating leads and making sales. These clients and leads will, if everyone is doing their jobs well, hit the internet and you get their names, and you are also getting the names of buyers from each of your galleries. You then market directly to them, letting them know about new and available paintings and start making sales directly. None of the other galleries have that advantage of getting names from you and the other galleries.


Lori Woodward Simons
via web

Been talking recently with gallery owners and artists concerning the subject above. Some of the artists I personally know have had several of their galleries recently go out of business.

Other galleries are not taking on new artists, and these artists have no idea who has purchased their work.

Sometimes it seems that artists and gallerists are more adversaries than partners. However, one person pointed out that we artists need to share all our collectors' names with the gallery owner - which I've done whenever the gallery wanted to send out postcards for an upcoming show.

Michael Hollis
via web

I would think that the gallery owners who are now out of business would have no problem sharing the names of purchasers.

I think the adversarial aspect of the relationship between dealers and artists can be avoided if, from the outset, expectations and responsibilities are clearly defined.
After some recent experiences with artists I no longer represent I now have a detailed agreement defining what my and the artists responsibilites are.
It also states what I will not do, share collectors names, and what the artist will not do, sell outside the gallery within a defined geographic area.
I do not have, but I am willing to add, that if I close the gallery, I will supply a list of collectors names and their purchasers.


Clint Watson
via web
All very good questions.

Back to Michel's initial questions. The problems he brings up ALREADY exist, at least in my mind.

For example, if an artist/dealer relationship ends, presumably that artist will be represented by another gallery (even if the artist chooses not to sell directly him/herself). Given today's internet search capabilities, most collectors still interested in that artist will move over to purchase from the "new" gallery. So, the problem already exists to a degree whether the first gallery shares collector names with the artist or not.

So perhaps sharing the names changes very little except earning the gallery a ton of goodwill with the artist.

Wallace Hugh
These are all interesting questions and ansewers, I do not know anything about selling through Galleries. I would say "no matter who sells it, I make money.
I feel like the more people I have touting my goods the better I will be. I can see if an Artist reaches super star status, wanting ansewers to these questions. I would say "Business is business" integratie, goes both ways.

Lori Woodward
Hah, on defense of the gallery side... something just occurred to me...

Not all artists are very good at representing their work directly to collectors. Many artists talk down their work and are not confident, nor are they comfortable talking to collectors.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why gallery directors are not willing to share contact info with artists... because the gallerist has taken a lot of time to build the customer's confidence, and the artist can undo some of that confidence while talking with the collector. I've seen it happen!

Sure most of us are pretty good at talking up our work, but I can see this problem from the gallerists' side.

Ann Bell
I've just read this 3 part article and enjoyed it and all the comments.

Your last comment is an excellent point for all of us to remember...never show anything but positive attitude and confidence.

Any negativity or insecurity undermines all that we are trying to accomplish.

Im would like to thank you for the information, I'm wondering if you have any articles on loseing ones paintings to any Gallery and what the odds are or what to look for, Thank you for sharing WHC

Lori Woodward
Wallace, I have lost paintings to a gallery, and I'm sure it's happened to other artists. The galleries I lost paintings to are now out of business.

If you do your homework ahead of time, get references from other artists who show there, you should avoid these situations.

whenever I send paintings to a gallery, I type up two copies of the inventory I'm sending. Each painting is numbered on the back along with the title. The gallery gets one sheet and I keep the other. If I deliver in person, I have the gallery director sign both copies.

We artists need to keep records and photos of all our work so that we don't lose track.


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