Honest Critiques - Artist Owned Gallery/Marketing
Honest photographer critiques welcomed....
I usually only read the forums, but am in need of a little input...
I am in the process of opening a cooperative photography gallery. The main premise is to sell quality original artwork at reasonable prices. Everything is on track with an expected mid-November opening, prior to the holiday season.
The majority of artwork within the gallery will be displayed in display racks - mounted prints, in clear sealed protective sleeves - limited as far as print size (4x5 - 11x14) and mat size (8x10 - 16x20). All work is sold un-framed in the $35 to $75 price range.
Artists are not showcased - Artwork is sold on its own merit. Select images are framed and displayed within the gallery, at gallery's expense - yet sold unframed.
Local population is in 50K range, 110K in county, approx. 300K for the trade area - as the city is a trade hub for quite a large area.
We charge photographers $20 per month to submit 10 images - and charge 20% commission on sales. Although not technically juried, there is a selection process for submitted works - to maintain quality original work.
As a photographer myself, I attempted to design the gallery with both the Artist and Average Consumer in mind. Limiting expense outlay of the Photographer, while maintaining reasonable pricing within the current economy.
Although, as I get closer to the 'call for artists' - I would very much like to hear fellow photographers input as to the gallery, as I have described it above - honest criticism is welcomed.
This is strictly my opinion....
Especially in current economy, I would think an average consumer would have problem paying the price you propose for an unframed photograph at the size specified - and from unknown artists. I think, an average consumer would expect poster pricing for much larger photograph. That would leave very little profit for you to pay for the expenses. Also, targeting such an wide audience, artist to consumer, you would have to carry very wide range of themes and motif, and art being very peculiar merchandise, I am not quite certain how you would satisfy both.
I think, at the price range you propose, your main customer would be an impulse buy customer, rather than art collectors. Would impulse buyer who "just walked in" to your store spend average 50 dollars per print? I tend to think not.
I recently attended an art show in my local area. Demographic is about the same as yours. I saw many photo-booth with pictures in the size and price you propose. They weren't exactly flying off the table - in fact, I saw no sale while I was there.
I wish you good luck in your venture. I hope I'm wrong for your sake.
Hi Dan - do you have a website, Id like to see more...my portfolio is at www.paulcooklin.com
I agree with some of the previous comments. Here are mine.
I think you must sell the artists, and offer some value judgment in order to sell art prints. People are, in general, not confident in their judgment of art. As a professional, you must provide some sort of rating system, even if it is implied. You will need to tell the story of the photographers who you sell in your gallery. Each one should be a starving artist with great potential, the next big thing. Appeal to both sympathy and greed with the intimate details of the lives of artists striving for fame.
You can imply ratings by setting different prices for prints, based on which photographers are hot, and based on what someone thinks of them.
Oh, the most important thing. It's your gallery. Consensus does not matter. Cash flow matters.
Within the price range, it sound like you will be selling mostly inkjet prints from home printers and/or 11x14 color prints from Costco. Nothing wrong with that. But you will have to be careful that the artists do not cut too many corners in producing the work. If someone's inkjet print on their wall starts to fade or change color before their eyes in a matter of months, you won't be able to say "What do you expect for 50 bucks?" It will be the gallery's name (and those associated with it) and reputation on the line. A good level of quality with mounting of the prints will have to be maintained, too.
Maintaining a file of artists in the gallery -- one page of info and one or more pages of images -- would be great to have on hand for the customers. The images may not need to be images at the gallery, but available for purchase...a way of expanding the "inventory" without needing the space.
Shipping -- a hassle, but if you can standardize it somehow and make it easy, then you will sell more to tourists.
Online presence? Might be worthwhile if you got shipping down, and the time it takes to deal with it can be done while working in the gallery. Artists would have agree to quickly fill orders, but without you having to maintained an inventory of prints.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
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Tell me where to get this potential thing and sign me up!
Originally Posted by Dave Pritchard
Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!
good luck! i
it sounds like quite an adventure!
i part owned an art gallery years ago and
it was nothing less than a wild adventure!
as long as you have your demographics
and walk in traffic worked out ..
I looked at roughly the market your planning to serve and decided it wasn't for me, I just could not see how I could create enough volume to make it work profitably as a contributor. There is not near enough margin to justify the work and costs involved.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Dan: here is my experience for whatever it is worth. I belong to a cooperative art gallery, which includes photographers, painters, potters, sculptors, and jewelry makers. We each pay a monthly fee to belong, and have to work several hours per month. The gallery takes a very small commission. Our market area is around 100,000; a fair amount of people who visit the gallery are tourists. Sales have not been great, but the economy in Michigan is the worst in the country and things are slowly picking up. I have not made money in the year that I have belonged, but on the other hand I am new to art photography and the gallery has exposed my work to many people and I hope sales will increase in the future because of it. I consider it "paying my dues."
Most of the art in the gallery is priced far higher that what you are anticipating, and most of the two dimensional art is framed. Our market is primarily tourists and local people who have the means to purchase, and the appreciation to want to own, "fine art." I think you may be aiming at a wider audience with lower prices, and I am not sure it will be effective. I have read opinions on this forum that pricing art too low actually demeans its desirability. People, the argument goes, believe a higher price makes art more valuable.
Semi-monthly wine and cheese-type events have generated the most sales and have gained the gallery and artists the most exposure. Attendees are invited from lists supplied by the artists, by previous visitors who sign up for an email list, and from the customer list of the high end restaurant next door to the gallery.