Need advice on Gallery representation
I've just about got my first real portfolio put together and am thinking on looking for gallery represenation. Note that I live in an area with a huge number of galleries which exhibit all sorts of artistic media - some do represent photographers.
I haven't ever worked with galleries before so what should I expect? I've heard that commissions are now up to 50% and possibly more. When approching galleries, should I have unmounted prints in a folder, or should I bring a good representation of matted/signed prints ready to show. Do galleries typically mount/frame the artwork themselves or is this something that the artist normally does. What other things are there that I'm not thinking about?
I know that there are a lot of you out there who are represented by galleries, so any advice would be appreciated.
Some galleries are willing (or prefer) to look at a cd, and if they like the scanned version, then see prints. I'm curious to see the responses you get.
They want to see prints, unmounted. As for framing, some galleries do it but they make you pay a lot more than its worth (squeezing artists on framing is often their main source of profit), so basically you are always responsible for framing. Yes commissions are around 50%, though some are less and a few are more. Expect that most of them will have absolutely no desire to talk to you and will act as if you, the artist, are little better than a cockroach running across their floor. That attitude is counter productive but very common. It usually takes knowing an artist already represented, or knowing a staffer to get them to talk to you, though in smaller cities thats not the case.
You need to do a lot of research. It's important to find a gallery that is a good fit for your work. Many galleries have submission guidelines on their websites, and often prefer to look at your work via CD. If they are interested in seeing prints, then bringing in a portfolio of unmounted prints is fine. Yes, generally, 50%. They are usually responsible for the marketing costs (and their own overhead, rent, staffing, etc.), and you are responsible for making the pictures, and increasingly, for the matting and framing. It's best to set your prices for prints only, and they take the 50% from the sales of prints. At the moment, I have one gallery representing me, and if someone wants a print, I will make it when they order it. It's a good investment to have a show "ready to hang"... in other words.. 20 or so prints framed and ready to go. These can be your exhibition prints that aren't necessarily for sale (artist proofs if you edition) and fill orders as they happen, or have the extra prints in your or the gallery's flat files.
It's best to set your prices for prints only, and they take the 50% from the sales...
Suzanne - so, you share 50% print sale with the gallery and recoup the framing cost (with or without profit) directly with the client?
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The commission usually comes off the total sale price. So, if you sell a framed photo for $500, the gallery takes $250. Since you paid for the framing, matting, and the cost of the print itself (cost of your paper, chemicals, or ink if its digital), your profits are far less than the gallery's. The gallery will say, well we have overhead to pay too...but so does the artist.
I don't offer the frames for sale... only the prints, and my agreement between me and the gallery regarding my prices is for prints only. If, however, the sell a print that is framed (though I'm generally interested in keeping my exhibition prints on hand, and not sell them), then he'll charge the client for the frame, but won't split it 50%, and I'll be reimbursed for the cost of the frame.
Last edited by SuzanneR; 11-09-2010 at 03:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
When it comes to framing, usually the galleries want you to provide the display samples that go up on the wall pre-framed, but they will handle framing for the customer (and make 100% of the profit on the framing) because the framing is where they have their greatest profit center, not the artwork itself. They're just being cheap by asking you to frame the work on display for them because that's one more investment in overhead they don't have to make. Once you have an established sales record with them, that MAY change (if they know you're going to sell out the show, then they MIGHT comp you the frames or do the framing for you at cost).
Yes, and I view the investment of the frames and a set of exhibition prints was a good thing. Without it, I wouldn't have had the shows that I've had, and have been able to show work on quick notice, had a good exhibition prints ready for any juried opportunities that came my way... which ultimately led to the gallery's interest.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
Now, we'll see if they can sell some prints (I've only been with them for a since the summer), and I'm scheduled for a show in Feb. My work is not necessarily an easy sell either, I don't think... a little too documentary for many collectors, so we'll see.
And I'm not in the framing business, and don't want to be!! If they can do the framing leg work... more power to them.
All this said... I don't think selling prints is a viable way to make a living, (unless your just extraordinarily hip or something) just an avenue for a little extra (to pay for more film and paper!!).
i have shown work matted ( 4ply backboard and 8 ply windows, NOT drymounted ) in archival boxes ..
i have also shown in a leather bound presentation book, and i have shown loose prints,
and web-images. it all depends on the gallery and what their expectations are.
some galleries want to see the work unframed / unmatted. they will pay for all framing and matting themselves.
others want to see the whole presentation ahead of time. when i part owned a gallery years ago ( in the 90s )
we didn't care one way or another, we had expectations that the artist present his / her work in a professional manner and they did.
good luck with trying to get representation .. from the galleries i have spoken with in the last few months
it is a very-difficult time and many aren't even looking at "new work" for 18+months ...
maybe that is just my neck of the woods ( boston + new york )
have fun !