Galleries and retailers
It's a bit of a different question than usual, but Lee White has mentioned galleries in his business classes, so I hope I'm not too off topic for this forum...
Does any of you sell their artwork through galleries and retailers? If so, what kind of agreement is common when dealing with them?
I have been approached by a shop that will open for Easter this year (I don't know exactly what kind of shop yet, but the owner already owns an art gallery), asking me for prices, ordering and turnaround times.
I already sell prints and originals in a local framer/gift shop and the way we work is, I just give him my artwork and the price I want for it, he frames it and adds his own share on top of my price, then gives me my share when it's sold. We have a trusting relationship and it has been working well like this for over a year now
But that new shop that approached me is far from where I live and I don't know them, so I'm a bit wary about this method... So I was thinking about asking for half of my price upfront and the rest after the item has sold.
What do you think? Is it something common to do?
What kind of guarantees can we have in this type of business relationship? Should we have a contract in place?
I like your idea about a contract. For about two years, I've sold greeting cards with my original drawings on them to anywhere from 5-8 retailers at once. Grocery stores, gift shops, galleries, book stores, those kind of places. Today I'm dropping off my first load for the Botanical Garden gift shop. So I have some experience to share with you, but not general rules.
Every retailer and gallery I've worked with is different actually! Haha it's maddening sometimes, but how great to have opportunities! One shop doesn't take any money from the sales, they just let me put cards in a shoe box and I collect the money later. Some stores pay me up front, the total amount I ask for the cards, then they sell them and order more when out of stock. Some places have consignment agreements with me, and pay me monthly or quarterly whenever anything sells. I have given stock to only one new business which closed a month after opening, but I received the stock back with only a small amount of dirt to clean off. Reputable places with a history of successful operation are a better bet than new ones, but it depends on the owner.
Some of my retailers are horrible about paying me, so I need to personally go there and remind them a couple of times, and it's never a problem - I'm always paid eventually, even if it's a year late. Keeping on top of quarterly deadlines is good to prevent this.
Have you considered offering a test run of a small quantity of your artwork, or maybe one piece or just prints? That way you don't lose too much if the business goes away or your work is damaged. If your work sells, that might indicate to the owner that they can pay you up front when you deliver pieces, which for me has been the best arrangement. And if it goes well, you'll know more about how trustworthy they are for pricier pieces.
Make sure they handle the sales tax or that if not, you're collecting it within the price with the appropriate state permit and whatnot. I just learned that last year and have my permit now. Good luck!
I've sold at a variety of places. And agree that it varies. Most places usually do a percentage, which nowadays ranges between 30-45% at the places I sell. Used to be 25% but most places have raised it to 30 now. Several professional galleries where I have work for sale, pay me at the end of the month or quarterly. It's built into their system of business, so I don't have to remind them about it. A few smaller places it varies, depending if I've sold anything and sometimes I have to remind them about it. I usually like to work with people I have either met personally or that have been referred to me. I've heard enough horror stories, that I wouldn't trust if some one contacted me out of the blue to sell my work. I've sold some things to stores at wholesale prices, where they pay me before hand and I give them a heftier discount, usually 50% off retail prices, in these instances I send an invoice and have receipts for both parties. And send items after payment. With these places I usually don't have contracts because it's on a sale by sale basis. With any kind of gallery where they pay me after sales, I always have a contract no matter how small they are. Actually they really should have their own contract if they do business like that. If they don't, then I wouldn't work with them. Hope that's helpful, I'd say do your homework, start out small, and if it works, send more stuff in, if it doesn't you haven't lost much.
thank you for your replies. It's very helpful. I'm waiting for these people's reply now and fingers crossed they will take on my work :)