Will Your Galleries Balk at Your Web Site?
by Clint Watson on 9/21/2006
Brian from Maine wonders, "Hi Clint, I was just reading some things in your blog -- the point that stood out to me was your suggestion to list my website on the backs of artwork. Wouldn't galleries balk at this?"
Thanks for your question Brian. Certainly, some gallery owners distrust artist contact information on the backs of artworks. For years this has included an artist's address and phone number. Now of course, web site addresses are taboo as well. Some gallery owners may even remove or black out such information. One can sometimes feel a pervasive desire to create a "wall of separation" between the artist and the collector. What a shame! After all, art is about forging connections between the artist and the viewer. Art is all about communication. In a sense, when a buyer purchases artwork, he's "purchasing" the artist as well. The stronger the client-artist connection, the more likely the person will become an ongoing collector.
The progressive dealer realizes that instead of hindering these connections, he should foster and encourage them. Building relationships is the essence of the dealer's job. Instead of hiding the artist's web site, why not enthusiastically share it with clients and encourage them to visit it? Instead of blocking access to an artist, why not pick up the phone and introduce the prospect to the artist? Heck, why not even give the artist's phone number to prospects? Each of these actions would make a sale more likely; after all, wouldn't YOU feel special if you were invited to personally call the artist?
The only reason that I can fathom regarding such humbug is fear. Specifically, fear that the artist will take advantage of the gallery's good faith efforts and "make a deal" with the client, thereby cutting the gallery out of the sale. I have seen artists make such deals. The galleries who represent such artists have good reason to complain.
All of these problems are symptoms and stop gap measures taken in an attempt to ameliorate a much deeper root problem: Trust. A gallery who won't let the client to talk to the artist doesn't trust the artist. An artist who sells behind the gallery's back, on some level, doesn't trust the gallery: either doesn't trust that the fee arrangement is equitable, or wonders if the gallery inflates prices.
What a lamentable and preventable state of affairs! Just make sure that your gallery relationships are built on trust, respect and a spirit of teamwork. Assure your galleries that you will not sell behind their backs. Discuss in advance how you will handle a call from a prospect from your own web site and how you will respond if a client suggests cutting the gallery out of the picture. Put links to your gallery on your own web site and make it clear to visitors that sales are handled by your gallery. And please, please, please put it all in a written and signed agreement with your gallery.
And yes, by all means, put your web site address on the back of every artwork you create.
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