With more and more emphasis on partnerships in this new economic climate, it is important that we make the most of the relationships we have. 80% of our sales come from 20% of our customers.
If you currently work with a Gallery that is surviving the upheaval, it behooves us to help that Gallery increase the sales of our work. Chances are, if you have been selected by that Gallery and their customers are already interested in the work they bring in, you have a very qualified audience that you need to capitalize on. The Gallery just wants to sell paintings. You have to persuade the Gallery to sell more of YOURS.
If you have been working with a Gallery or wish to sell in a Gallery these tips might come in useful:
1. Have your very best work prepared and ready to hang – It is important to put your very best foot forward. If you are new to a gallery, it is like a first date, you want things to look perfect! It is not uncommon to have clients in the Gallery (particularly the smaller ones) while you are dropping off your work. You want to make it easy for the Gallery to present work right away. They will be more inclined to work with you if you aren’t eating up their time fixing hangers or adjusting frames.
2. Provide professional high quality and pre-cropped photographs to the Gallery. Some galleries get their own photos taken, but, it is good to have your own! It also means you have a better chance at making it into the general promotional pieces or ads. Whenever I provide a quality photo to a Gallery, I get some extra ads and that often gets a sale.
3. When dropping off your paintings, have a MEETING scheduled with the owner or the manager – You want to discuss the work – tell them the stories that relate to the work you are delivering (is there an interesting story relating to a location?), giving them conversation pieces and information that helps deepen the interest or provide a connection to the work – They need to connect to sell! Have a sheet for both yourself and the gallery that inventories the art you bring in. That way you are organized for your own sake and it gives a professional impression. Some Galleries have their own systems, but, I do this for myself because most smaller galleries enter it into a computer – later! That leaves time for things to get lost!
4. Ask the Gallery what they need from you – And be prepared to supply the Gallery with marketing materials and a portfolio. Have a photo book done of a recent series, have a Biography ready and consider supplying generic cards that the Gallery can ‘stamp’. Depending on the Gallery’s commission*, they may do this, but many do not.
5. If you have developed special content, ie. videos, offer this content to your Gallery for use on their website – You then become more recognizable and have more exposure to their traffic if they take you up on it.
6. If you are having a show, be on time (or better still, early) – Be dressed appropriately for the environment and your work and have a good attitude! Also be sure to always invite your mailing list. The goodwill of any Gallery is its mailing list and if you are bringing in new customers, they are going to spend more energy on your sales.
7. Have a way for the Gallery to contact you. If you move around a lot use your cell phone or supply an e-mail address you check very regularly.
8. Link to your Gallery(s) on your website – Make it easy for your clients to find your work, especially if you do not have an open studio
9. Ask the Gallery for feedback from their clients – It is always good to know how your work is being received. It is better to know sooner than later if the match or partnership is not benefiting either of you before you use all your resources. It also can give you a good idea which paintings appeal to customers and will get the most energy from Gallery staff.
*The subject of consignment relationships and agreements is a separate issue here. I am not going to go into it in detail in this article. However, do consider the amount of work and material you have to provide in relation to the promotion your Gallery provides and be certain that the commission reflects that. If a Gallery charges 50%, then they should be responsible for advertising and invitations! Know the laws in your region.
Questions to Ask Yourself: (Feel free to add your ideas to the comments!)
What other things have you done that have improved your relationship with your Gallery and boosted your sales? Can you think of any other things that you could do?
Make a list of what you will need, print out biographies and do printed version (brief) of you accompanying stories before you visit your Gallery to either turn over work or are bringing your work for the first time.
If you are Gallery – What would you like to tell your artists?
Teresa from the Auburn Gallery in Muskoka has offered some excellent points I thought I should add to the post:
1. Keep your prices consistent in all points of sale. So whether you sell on-line from your studio or in other galleries, it is important that collectors can expect new work is worth the same everywhere. It’s good for your galleries and encourages them to support you and that is good for you.
2. Don’t be in too many galleries in the same area. If you do, you are essentially competing with yourself and that does not encourage galleries to promote your work. If you are more exclusive, people will know where to find you and be less inclined to bounce around, losing a sale for both you and the gallery.