The Etsy Blog

Shop Makeover: Gallery Go-getter (Part 3)

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Please welcome Andy Cooperman to the Etsy blog. This is part 3 of 4 in the Gallery Go-getter series.

Andy Cooperman is a metalsmith, writer, and teacher who lives in Seattle, WA. His work is featured in galleries nationwide and the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, as well as many private collections. In addition to one of a kind jewelry pieces, Andy also works with clients as a custom jeweler and commission metalsmith. Please visit his website at andycooperman.com or coopermanjewelry.com.

In this series, we have made every effort to be as broad and inclusive as we can within the parameters of the Etsy blog.  It is our hope that the information provided is useful to artists of all types and will be applied to each specific situation.

This essay explains how the artist/gallery relationship most often works, along with some questions to ask before you sign a contract with a gallery.

Consignment:

The vast majority of galleries work on a consignment basis with their artists. Consignment means “the gallery borrows work from an artist for display in the gallery, and then pays the artist only when it sells.”* The artist sets a wholesale price on each piece, which is the amount of money the artist must make. The wholesale price includes cost of material, labor, overhead, profit, etc. The gallery then takes this wholesale price and adds their commission. This is the retail price, or what the gallery will sell the item for to the public.

Consignment arrangements at galleries vary, but the most commonly encountered percentage is 50/50 or one half of the retail price. In other words, galleries will double the wholesale price. Some galleries have a different percentage split, often 60/40. The artist still owns the work until it is sold. Knowledge of the commission percentage expected by each gallery can play a role in deciding which galleries to approach in the first place or whether you decide to work with a gallery.

When you, the artist, are establishing a wholesale price for each piece, it is important to remember that the gallery will be doubling the wholesale price. This is the price that their clients and customers will pay. Pricing your work is a balancing act between what the artist needs to earn and what a gallery retail customer will reasonably expect to pay. This is very different than selling on Etsy, where the maker gets to keep all revenue (minus a small percentage paid to Etsy and PayPal).

Establishing Wholesale Accounts:

There are some galleries who will purchase artwork outright from the artist. Some will even agree to purchase a certain amount of work, say 10 pairs of earrings or 5 teacups, if the artist will agree to consign some larger pieces — 4 neck pieces or 3 large teapots, for instance. But selling outright to a gallery is not a bulletproof solution. There are many galleries who expect to have a grace period — a year for instance — during which they can trade work already purchased from an artist for newer or different work. This arrangement usually involves a percentage trade back: two old pieces for one “new” piece, for example.

Discounting:

Many galleries are now offering discounts to “collectors.” In the past, this term applied only to a client or customer who had made a commitment to collecting the work of a particular artist or work in a specific media: in other words, people who spent a lot of money with the gallery. This was a consideration made by the gallery to honor the relationship with the client and to foster future sales. Collector discounting has now become more of a standard practice and, unfortunately, a discount is given to basically anyone who asks. Some galleries even raise the wholesale price of an artist’s work, anticipating a collector discount and thereby raising the retail price of the piece to cover it.

Ask a gallery early in your discussions if the gallery offers discounts. It is important to be sure of just where the discount is coming from. Is the artist expected to share in the discount offered to the gallery’s customer, or is the gallery going to absorb the discount in their commission percentage? Find out how the gallery is planning to handle this situation. Here’s a link to the Professional Guidelines document about Discounts.

Make an informed decision about how you and your gallery will handle discounts.

Some Questions to Ask a Gallery:

  • Will the gallery be taking artists to other venues such as SOFA or other art fairs?
  • Will they be using your work in advertisements?
  • Does the gallery sponsor exhibitions?
  • Do they require an exclusive relationship? And if so, what are the parameters? Exclusivity means that the gallery will be the only retail source of your work for a specified geographical area, say for 100 miles.
  • How do they feel about sales made on your website or other websites such as Etsy?
  • How often are artists paid?
  • What is their policy for work that is returned to the gallery by customers? What happens if you have already been paid by the gallery for the work sold and then it is returned?
  • Who is responsible for damages to consigned work?
  • If the gallery purchased work from the artist do they expect to be able to trade it back for other work (usually at a discount: two pieces for one, for example)?

For more information, read the Professional Guidelines document Guide to a Model Consignment Contract here.

The Professional Development Seminar organized by Andy Cooperman, Harriete Estel Berman and Don Friedlich will be presenting four hours of lectures and discussion designed to offer students, emerging artists and established professionals information vital to establishing and maintaining a career in the arts. To read about the entire program go here.

*Berman, Harriete Estel. Model Consignment Contract, Professional Guidelines. 2002

Stay tuned for one more installment in the Gallery Go-getter series.

  • lsad

    lsad says:

    Andy your work and picks are amazing and inspiring. I was a metalsmith and I 'm longing for the art aspect again. Thanks!

    6 years ago

  • lichtensteiger

    lichtensteiger says:

    Great article! I didn't realise so much went into galleries and all the details. This has been very informative, thank you so much :)

    6 years ago

  • KalliopeJewelry

    KalliopeJewelry says:

    Loving this series, loaded with invaluable info! Thank you for your time and expertise Andy!

    6 years ago

  • MyissaG

    MyissaG says:

    Thank you Andy :)

    6 years ago

  • EpicBones

    EpicBones says:

    wow, amazing stuff. I love the featured item by Andy Cooperman!

    6 years ago

  • 4TheSparrowsNest

    4TheSparrowsNest says:

    The consignment and wholesale information is VERY helpful, as many of us won't necessarily have our work in professional galleries, but will be establishing wholesale and consignment accounts with local boutiques. Thanks a ton!!

    6 years ago

  • angeew

    angeew says:

    interesting article and has useful information all on one page. This is exactly the information I'm looking for a photo exhibition that I am discussing with a bar/gallery. Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • LittleCritters00

    LittleCritters00 says:

    This series is great, so much useful info. Thanks

    6 years ago

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm says:

    Thank you andy cooperman~ love all your designs~ incredible info here alot to absorb in one read. Enjoying the gallery g0-getter series~! Thanks~!~!

    6 years ago

  • TashaHussey

    TashaHussey says:

    Wow! such beautiful Art.

    6 years ago

  • FrucciDesign

    FrucciDesign says:

    Thank you for this series, it is so informative and helpful!! Andy your work is great and I hope to be able to attend your class this summer at Haystack!

    6 years ago

  • Ryanplz

    Ryanplz says:

    Again, this has become very helpful! Thanks!

    6 years ago

  • voleurdebijoux

    voleurdebijoux says:

    Gorgeous!! Wonderful picks and great article, Andy. :)

    6 years ago

  • simplymega

    simplymega says:

    After reading this series one can see how being an artist is definitely a full time job! Amazing how many hats we need to wear.

    6 years ago

  • DeNovoStyle

    DeNovoStyle says:

    I love the wall tiles! A new fav!

    6 years ago

  • AdaRosman

    AdaRosman says:

    What a wonderful article, ANDY! You're truly a great artist and also thank you so much for all the great lessons/tips as a teacher!!! :D

    6 years ago

  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink says:

    simply intriguing items. And good article-everyone needs to know how stuff works! thanks for spreading the word.

    6 years ago

  • Studio618

    Studio618 says:

    Andy, great information here. When will you be back at Revere? Sorry I missed your class last year. ~Fan of your work.

    6 years ago

  • sucree

    sucree says:

    Andy, thanks for sharing this information. Certainly is helpful in deciding whether or not to show at a gallery and how to negotitiate the process. Cheers to Seattle artists!

    6 years ago

  • kristensteinfineart

    kristensteinfineart says:

    Wonderful information Andy. Love your work! Great art pieces that you've selected as well!

    6 years ago

  • flyingrhymes

    flyingrhymes says:

    Another good rule of thumb is to never ever loose your consignment contract, as it is your only proof that the gallery has your work. Very concise article, thanks!

    6 years ago

  • LaireMarie

    LaireMarie says:

    Love the wall tile collection - very cool and unique!

    6 years ago

  • fionachapman

    fionachapman says:

    I have admired Andy Cooperman's work for many years. It is great to see articles such as this written by such respected artists. Thank you.

    6 years ago

  • marriageofmetal

    marriageofmetal says:

    This series has been incredibly insightful thus far! Andy, I enjoyed the heck out of your workshop at Miami University last summer! I have been passing on your knowledge to my students and they have been creating magnificent pieces! You are awesome! -Jesse

    6 years ago

  • margauxlange

    margauxlange says:

    Spot on. A really great series of article all around. It was interesting to read that discounting is now considered a standard practice amongst galleries. Hmmmm

    6 years ago

  • MGMart

    MGMart says:

    Lovely article Andy! My personal favorite is ArtMind Feelings!! Just love them :) ~Marianna

    6 years ago

  • cthings

    cthings says:

    Wonderful information thanks Andy for sharing!! Your work is awesome!!

    6 years ago

  • andycooperman

    andycooperman says:

    Thanks, everybody, for all the feedback. It's really appreciated. Harriete, Don and I feel strongly about artists' empowerment: the more information the better! How good to know that you're finding the information useful. It's also been a real pleasure spending time tooling around the Etsy site. Thanks for the opportunity. Andy

    6 years ago

  • MellingtonCartwright

    MellingtonCartwright says:

    Andy! thanks a ton for the in sightful info. especially when this is the time that I am planning on doing some gallery shopping!

    6 years ago

  • Lunatiger

    Lunatiger says:

    After seeing a lot of Gallery openings, selling is pretty tough, unless you're established. It hard when you're just starting out. You need a bit of stroke of luck to make a living out of it.

    6 years ago

  • andycooperman

    andycooperman says:

    Lunatiger, you are right--it is tough. One strategy is to have a number of galleries and to also, perhaps vary the type of work each has success in selling. I've found it useful to look at the whole "pie", combining different types of galleries and sales venues with, perhaps, some production, some custom and even repairs along with one of a kind pieces. Add to that a web presence--Etsy, for example--and even some craft fairs. It can be discouraging but a little success leads, often, to more. I'm off to the frozen Northeast for a week, so I may not be posting for a while. Take care, everybody. andy

    6 years ago

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen says:

    thank you for a very interesting and informative article - so many things I didn't know - and wasn't even aware of - that went on!

    6 years ago

  • andycooperman

    andycooperman says:

    One more thing: The galleries aren't the end all and be all, of course. They simply may provide a different type of exposure, fill a different need or address a different audience. A

    6 years ago

  • andycooperman

    andycooperman says:

    One, one more thing: Sorry I forgot to be clear in the last posts. In rereading them it does seem a little jewelry skewed. No matter what medium or format in which you work, I'm sure that there are different types of work that can fill different niches such as smaller, less involved paintings, sculpture and --whatever --along with the more considered --and expensive--pieces that you may make. My apologies, Andy

    6 years ago

  • MeghanT

    MeghanT says:

    Nice article! The photos are stunning!

    6 years ago

  • artbywinona

    artbywinona says:

    Hey Andy!!! Thanks for all of the wonderful information. Such a wonderful picture of you ;-) I won't be at Yuma this year, so sad :-( Have fun on your trip in the cold Northeast...... ~W

    6 years ago

  • DvoraSchleffer

    DvoraSchleffer says:

    Thanks. Very interesting and useful info.

    6 years ago

  • alisamiller

    alisamiller says:

    yay andy!!!

    6 years ago

  • NICOLAHART

    NICOLAHART says:

    Thanks Andy,I find it pretty scary approaching and dealing with galleries but with this information I'll now feel more confident.

    6 years ago

  • StudioAMF

    StudioAMF says:

    Very useful information. I have been enjoying the series and look forward to the final installment.

    6 years ago

  • mycreativeinstincts

    mycreativeinstincts says:

    You have provided a plethora of information well done and much appreciated.

    6 years ago

  • twigsandheather

    twigsandheather says:

    I think that it is very important to be on-line. I think being on-line has changed almost every aspect of craft. You have on-line show applications, a network of vast information and a community to reach out to. This information is a good foundation, but it is no longer one size fits all. Nowadays Galleries and store owners find YOU!

    6 years ago

  • cynthiadelgiudice

    cynthiadelgiudice says:

    Great article! Thanks!

    6 years ago

  • QuercusSilver

    QuercusSilver says:

    This series has been so interesting. I've really enjoyed the food for thought it's given me.

    6 years ago

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy says:

    Very thorough and informative article. Thank you.

    6 years ago

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 says:

    For the 2D artists out there... Consider also that galleries will (usually) require work to be framed if necessary. This cost is not re-imbursed off the top - so if you spend $100 framing a piece, you will actually have to charge the client $200 (on top of the cost of the art) in order to recover that cost. This is one reason why I love selling on Etsy. The buyer can buy just the work at a fair price, then determine the framing that is right for them. Also, for any artist, I would also consider a relationship with a gallery where you are permitted to have the buyer's information for your own records. I have been selling at a gallery where they do not share this info, and some of my favorite pieces are now "lost" to me. I think by being on Etsy, artists can cultivate a relationship with a buyer, beneficial to both parties - past clients can have the first look at new work, can connect with you about commissioning further work, or even pass your name directly to friends and family who may also wish to buy. I appreciate the focus on this very important aspect of doing business as an artist. I look forward to more articles!

    6 years ago

  • zJayne

    zJayne says:

    Helpful information, thank you.

    6 years ago

  • mloartwear

    mloartwear says:

    Interesting and worth reading. Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • TerrorDome

    TerrorDome says:

    Thanks, good read

    6 years ago

  • ArtMind

    ArtMind says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this valuable information. I have been wondering recently how to get in contact with gallery's and such. I'll definately bookmark this for future reference! I thought it was all about knowing 'the right people'. ;) Thank you too for adding 'my feelings' to this article.

    6 years ago

  • WindAndRain

    WindAndRain says:

    Very informative article. Thank you.

    6 years ago

  • PrivateTreasures

    PrivateTreasures says:

    Hi Andy, thanks for your important advice. I'm wondering when you have an agreement with a Gallerie out of your town, who has to pay for the shipping cost? Is it you to have to ad the cost of the shipping to the wholesale price? Thanks again for taking the time to answer me. Patricia Private Treasures

    6 years ago

  • beachhouseblues

    beachhouseblues says:

    Andy, your work is fabulous!

    6 years ago

  • BluCille

    BluCille says:

    Some neat stuff.

    6 years ago

  • bijougirldesigns

    bijougirldesigns says:

    This is a very informative article, and Andy, your pieces are really gorgeous! Wow!

    6 years ago

  • thesacredbead2

    thesacredbead2 says:

    Beautiful work, great informative article, thanks so much for sharing with us all!

    6 years ago

  • threeblindmiceart

    threeblindmiceart says:

    Thanks so much for the information. Even though the art market is tough right now, it is wonderful to at least have these guidelines for a reference. A place to start.

    6 years ago

  • thecyclingartist

    thecyclingartist says:

    Great artist, and just wanted to say as a fine artist that the issues and questions are pretty spot on for us too. :) A couple points I'd add (and they won't apply to everyone): Generally the artist sets the retail price in the fine art situation once they're more established, so artist price can vary a bit. You hit a point where that's something you know and take a bit less for a more prominent gallery, take a bit more at other places. I don't mention online selling at all. I won't avoid the question of course, but see no reason to bring it up as many galleries have a fear of artists selling online (for good reason, too many artists and craftspeople will sell for less than gallery price online). If you don't undercut your galleries though this shouldn't be a problem. Be open and honest, remember that ideally you want to build a longterm relationship with your galleries too. thanks for the hard work writing all that Andy, and for sharing. :)

    6 years ago

  • soule

    soule says:

    LOVELY! and a fellow Seattlite!

    6 years ago

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns says:

    Awesome artwork and article! I especially appreciate the list of questions in the end. It is really important to have scenarios lined out by the time you bring your pieces in, preferently in print. One of the galleries I worked with in California turned out to have a pushy sales associate, and when a customer got buyers remorse and returned a bunch of items amongst which one of my rings, the customer got a gallery credit but the return was deducted from mine and the other artists next sales check. So the gallery never took a risk with their sales. I took my pieces out right away.

    6 years ago

  • BabbidgePatch

    BabbidgePatch says:

    Beautiful art featured and great article!

    6 years ago

  • jhowardstudios

    jhowardstudios says:

    Great list of questions, thanks.

    6 years ago

  • MichelleStudio

    MichelleStudio says:

    Thanks for all the great information. Love the picks as well.

    6 years ago

  • sarawestermark

    sarawestermark says:

    Andy Cooperman is my hero!!!

    6 years ago

  • Softpencil

    Softpencil says:

    Very interesting info! thank you!

    6 years ago

  • michon

    michon says:

    I love your list of questions to ask the galleries - thanks for giving me some things to think about!

    6 years ago

  • Squier

    Squier says:

    Great article!

    6 years ago

  • FanFun

    FanFun says:

    Thank u for sharng ur time and ur tips!

    5 years ago

  • treemother

    treemother says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    5 years ago

  • thanksloveart

    thanksloveart says:

    Amazing persistent artistry blossomed into incredible success. Thank you for this article inspiring us newbies to keep on going!

    4 years ago

  • Coventinasjewels

    Coventinasjewels says:

    Thanks for this article! Very helpful regarding wholesale accounts and consigning:)

    4 years ago