What does Gallery representation cost?

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by philldresser, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Hi all

    Reading through and old B&W magazine (US) I came across numerous adverts for Galleries, plus adverts where photogs are seeking Gallery representation. It got me wondering what are the options out there for gallery representation. This brought about more questions regarding the overhead ito the photographer i.e what does it cost? What commission (%) or flat fee methods are out there?

    Just Curious

    Phill
     
  2. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Usually more than you want. A 50/50 split is not unusual. Maybe you will get paid, too. For an in depth look at this phenomena I would like to suggest the following link:

    http://www.lenswork.com/goodies.htm

    There are two articles "How the Gallery System is Failing Photography" and "An Alternative to the Gallery System" worth reading on this subject.
     
  3. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Phill,

    There are different types of galleries out there. One type that has gained popularity is the co-op gallery. Where you pay a fee to the gallery, and you man the gallery, then they will show your work. Often only after you have been a member there a full year. These my seem good to some but can also be very costly. What's worse is they require you to actually work in the gallery (not just while your work is up on the walls).

    Another type of gallery is the commercial gallery. I have had dealings with a number of commercial galleries who take a percentage of the sale price of the prints. IMO these work out better then the Co-op gallery in the long run as they actively try to sell your work, that's how they make their money. The rates have varied from 25% - 50% of the sale price going to the gallery. I have heard of other galleries charging up to 60-70% but thankfully I never ran across any of those places.

    True representation is more then just showing your work on their walls of the gallery. A gallery will select some prints to show to their clients when your not on their walls. They know what their clients like to buy, they may not want to hold onto some of what you might think is your best work. They will pick out photographs that feel they can sell to their clients.

    Back to the percentages, a number of the galleries that I dealt with that did charge the lower percentages are out of business now. So its not always a good thing to get the best deal for you the photographer.
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Unlike George on my first try I ran into the ones that charge 70%. Let me tell you how I was reeled in. We got together after they agreed to show my work and I brought an invetory of the prints with the prints. So the guy asks "how much you want to price the prints?" My answer was $120 per 8x10 and $180 per 12x20. My thinking was, this is my first show and these are the prices I can afford when I buy a print. So the guy goes, ok, my commision is 50%, I said fine I expected that, and then he goes, and I am adding to the price of the prints and additional 50% for gallery expenses. So the prints ended up costing $180 for the 8x10s and $270 for the 12x20 of which I only keep $60 for the 8x10 and 90 for the 12x20.

    Of course this being Mexico, he has sold only 2...lol...So then I call him to see what was going on and ask him when were they planning to change the show (by now they have had my prints for 2 months) So they say: well, we are having problems finding a photgrapher for the next show, so we are changing it until the end of October, but then he goes " If you give me a better price for the prints I want to keep 3 more prints"...lol...I am thinking, yeah right! I am sure he has customer for the 3 additional prints and he just wants to keep more money.....I must have stupid written on my forehead!

    So they are out there. The thing is there are only two galleries in Mexico that exclusively show phtography, I cannot afford to make enemies even as the guy looks me in the eye and tries to cheat me. So if you are planning to go the gallery route, beware, some are good and specially in the US they seem to be better, but you have to "bear and grin" sometimes.
     
  5. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Jorge

    Personally, rather, photographically I am not ready for gallery representation. My interest was mainly on how it was done and what it cost if, and when the time comes. Interesting story though and I hope it becomes more productive for you.

    Joe & George
    Thanks for the link and comments. I am amazed that the cut is or can be 50% or more. Surely 100% mark up is uncommon in most marketing avenues, or is it the ART label that inflates it. The Lenswork article was excellent and I shall read them again tonight. Seems that Art for the common man is still unatainable

    Phill
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Philldresser said: "Joe & George
    Thanks for the link and comments. I am amazed that the cut is or can be 50% or more. Surely 100% mark up is uncommon in most marketing avenues, or is it the ART label that inflates it. The Lenswork article was excellent and I shall read them again tonight. Seems that Art for the common man is still unatainable"

    Phill,

    100 % markup is routine here in the United States. This is true in many businesses and industries at the retail level. The common term here in the US is "Keystone" for a 100% markup. There are some segments that charge more then 100% markup...notable among those are clothing and jewelry.
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    Phill
    have you bought popcorn at a theater? It costs the theater maybe ten cents to fill the large bag and the customer pays how many dollars? Huge mark ups are the norm not the exceptions.
    I grew up with the son of a sculptor. His dad regularly paid thirty percent at galleries.
     
  8. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    I actually worked in the Horticultural trade for years where 100% markup was very common. I nievely thought that this was not a common practice in todays competitive environment. Shows how out of touch I am.

    What about virtual galleries? do they work on the same principles even though they have less overhead

    Phill
     
  9. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    The gallery that represents my work in Ontario uses this system...

    Artist/Gallery Type of work

    60/40 for Limited Editions

    For originals (paintings etc...) The rate is higher for the artist, but I don't know exactly what it is... Possibly 70/30.

    This is my only experience with a gallery that sells my work.

    joe :smile:
     
  10. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Excusing my low level questions, if you submitted a limited edition, say a portfolio of five images, would you supply a)multiple copies as stock, or b) make to order? I gather from other comments about the photographer getting the short straw that the former is more common.

    If this is the case what sort of numbers are usually requested and is norm for a limited edition?

    Phill
     
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I have another hare brained idea.... (now you know why my nickname is rabbit) What about a virtual gallery that the mark up would go to apug? We could have the really good prints put into the gallery (this leaves me out) and dold via that gallery?
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    YIKES!!....do you want to pick them? What a hornet's nest (or rabbit warren) that could become.
     
  13. 127

    127 Member

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    I think one way to look at it is how much do YOU want to receive? Then let the gallery put whatever markup on it they think they can.

    If I want $100 for a print (not that I've ever sold an art print!), and the gallery sells it for $120 then fine. On the other hand if a more upmarket gallery can sell it for $1000 and give me $100 then good for them! OK I might be a little peived that they just made $900 out of me (and I'd want to get more for the next one), but they're earning it by putting your work in a context where they can sell it for that price.

    One example took 18%, the other 90% but I get the same. In fact I do a lot BETTER from the $1000 gallery than the $120 gallery, as now my work is seen as worth more, and is being circulated to "the right people".

    I'm sceptical of anywhere that wants cash up front from you - makes me wonder if they make their cash from selling the work, or from scamming artists. If you want to sell the work, then you want someone on your side that makes their money when they sell your work.

    Ian
     
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  15. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    In my situation, I've had as many as 10-12 images in stock at the gallery at one time. These are framed pieces. The prints that tend to sell more often, I usually supply in unframed as well.

    joe :smile:
     
  16. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    From the magazine formerly known as Photovision, There was a column written by Joette O'Connor. I found it to be one very informative series of articles since it covered practical information/advice from the gallery's perspective. Hope she doesn't mind having her email address here but it was published in every copy of the magazine. ojoette@cybermesa.com
     
  17. mvjim

    mvjim Member

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    In defence of the gallerys - think for a moment what the gallery is doing for you. The good ones at least. For the percentage you are paying them you are; hiring a professional gallery sales person whose job is to do nothing but try to sell your work, they promote the show through printing and mailing announcements and invitations and sending out pr announcements to the media, hey sponsor and pay for your opening, they provide the man power to hang the show. And all this is provided not knowing if any of the work will sell. There is alot invested up front. Just offering a different perspective on this - The most important thing they offer to the artist is access to their clients (refered to as their A list) whom the know and who trust them to show valued work worth buying.
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Jim, I think most of us are aware of this. Personaly I don't begrudge the gallery their cut, when it is on a 50/50 basis. But when the gallery takes 70% and they do so in part because they know they got you by the short ones....well, that IMO is just plain unfair. As I said, live and learn, next one I have I will make sure of the terms before I commit.
     
  19. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Galleries take work on consignment and then sell them.

    Their PR/promotion, stocking and personel costs are not significantly different than other merchants.

    Retail stores of a similar nature (a mom and pop shop as an example) buy goods to sell. Their risk is infinitely higher than a galleries, yet there mark-up is similar or less. A small clothing or shoe store will often have to commit to their purchases 3, 6 or 9 months in advance further increasing their risk. What if it doesn't snow and they bought 20k worth of snow boots (back in May) or Britney switches to granny nickers and they've ordered a semi truck full of beaded thongs?

    I don't blame Galleries for taking as many advantages as they can (or artists allow), I just have a hard time feeling much sympathy.

    If we put as much emphasis on the humanities in our public schools as we do on sports we might have a far better art market -- Galleries would be forced to play by different rules.
     
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  20. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Geez is that ever true. Imagine kids having heroes who paint, photograph, compose, dance, and/or write and about whom they were as knowledgable as they are about professional athletes. When humanities are taught by really good teachers in schools that value such learning, kids actually do become fans. It's harder for them to articulate their appreciation sometimes and still be 'cool', but I know for a fact that the enthusiasm is being instilled. Sports are a hugely important element in the lives of kids, but so too can be subjects that stimulate their minds and creative juices. It does happen!
     
  21. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I will second that motion. I feel the Arts have become severely neglected in our education system. Sports and arts are not incompatible - in fact they were once considered to be of equal necessity. A few examples: The Japanese Samurai warriors considered art just as important to the warrior as was the sword. A couple examples from more recent Anglo-American history. Winston Churchill and General George S. Patton. Both were great warriors and athletes. Patton had competed in the Olympics. Yet both were equally passionate about art and were great patrons of the arts. Patton wrote sensitive poetry, Churchill painted.

    The bottom line, as always is money. Ball games bring in cash, while art programs generally just spend it.
     
  22. mark

    mark Member

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    As a public school teacher and avid anti sports person let me say
    I ain't holdin my breath. At my upper elementary school we lost a band program because of funding but added 4 more coaches for sports programs. And there is no money raised at fourth-sixth grade sports games.

    But I do agree with you it would be nice.
     
  23. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It is the American Aesthetic . We don't get or cannot be bothered to try to understand nuance. We sure as hell are not introspective. We like sports simple, easy to follow, no problems understanding the ending -- hell our president at the debate Thursday sounded more like a football coach prior to the big game then the "leader of the free world."
     
  24. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    That's an insult to football coaches, some of whom number among my friends. They're far more articulate than "Ol' Smirky".
     
  25. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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  26. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    Stupid.