August 21, 2008

Galleries... Get It Right!

In a May 31 post I mentioned that I had left a gallery which was actually doing a respectable job for me... usually moving the larger pieces. I hemmed and hawed about how I just had too many balls in the air and needed to cut back. Well... anyone reading between the lines would know that you don't squeeze out a good selling gallery unless there's more to the story... and this is it:

I picked up my work, checked off my inventory but somehow missed noticing one large painting was missing. Got home, did a recount and discovered the error. Sent a humble email taking all the blame (my usual approach, it's gotta be MY fault!) They wrote back that it was actually out on approval and they would let me know the result.

Five (5 - FIVE) months later I emailed them again as to the whereabouts of the painting. Turn around email... the check is being sent today.

This has been the normal routine... seldom did I ever get a check that I didn't have to ask or remind them about. The first year started out great, but later, although sales stayed steady, the response didn't. I understand how the economy is, I understand bills to be paid. But... BUT! A gallery that isn't paying it's artists looks like a gallery in trouble to me! BTDT! The thing to do is to get the hell out of there before the squeeze hits.

These people are as nice as any I've ever met in the gallery business... I hate that things may be getting tight for them... but I also wonder if the problem wouldn't be the same even in a good economy. If so... there's a lack of respect being shown for their artists and there's no excuse for that!


Karen Jacobs said...

Umm... can't count, even on my fingers. That would be a little less than three (3) months of silence, not five (5.) But even so...

Joanie San Chirico said...

I agree 100%, no matter how long it really is!

If you have a contract with a gallery, not all of mine do, but the ones I have say they'll pay you within 30 days of a sale. I only have one gallery who actually does that, and it's not a brick and mortar gallery even. It's Artful Home

Almost everyone else has to be prodded. On the other hand, if you get a commission from a gallery or they want something, they want it right away.

self taught artist said...

guess I'm not alone...
my art sold in Jan. and still waiting for the full payment. I too had to remind them to pay each time work sold and sometimes wouldn't get the right amount and would have to ask for more. I'm out of that place, but still smarting from the experience. Somehow or another she is making me the bad guy by being angry at me for asking and not TRUSTING her that I will get paid. HUH?!?!?!

Catherine Carter said...

Karen, I have to thank you for this post. I was about to submit images of my work to this particular gallery. Now I will not do so.

Karen Jacobs said...

Joanie, contracts just seem to blow in the wind, it's really up to the artist to be sure all is on the up and up. Each time I leave my work at a gallery I give them an inventory sheet listing the new work they are keeping and then the work they already have in stock. They must sign my copy and note the total number of paintings they have in their possession. A good gallery will double check that each piece is listed correctly... mistakes can happen but it's saved me a few times.

Paula, I know the feeling, been there many times. Be a squeaky wheel with a smile... a real nuisance! And keep looking for more galleries, they aren't all created equal, as you well know.

Catherine, I don't like to mention gallery names, especially when they are good in many other ways... but if we did start pointing out the ones that don't pay on time I bet they'd get the message. Trouble is, there's a long line of very good but anxious artists waiting for that wall space and most will take the chance... so gallery inventory doesn't suffer at all!

Catherine Carter said...

If those talented but anxious artists can pay their bills by telling their creditors, “I’ll pay you as soon as my gallery pays me,” more power to them. I have a due date stamped on my Visa bill, and if I don’t meet that obligation, the balance will just keep going up. Anyway, Karen, I really appreciate that you spoke up in this instance. You have doubtless saved me aggravation down the line.

es said...

I had the same experience at the this gallery.Very nice people but the communication was really bad. I felt like I was the bad guy calling and emailing to see where my payment was and if anything was in the works. Glad I am not crazy. I really enjoy your blog...I really love the strip center pieces.

Karen Jacobs said...

Can't thank you enough for the back up comment, Liz... and good to hear from you! I hate to name names in cases like this, especially when I wasn't actually hurt by their carelessness, but it's not the way things are supposed to work! Good luck... love your work!

Joanie San Chirico said...

Yes Karen, I always print out an inventory sheet for the gallery to sign. That has saved me more than once when the gallery wasn't sure where a painting was!

It's sad though that some of the good galleries have to close because they just can't keep up. Maybe that's why the not so good payers are still out there?

Art Calendar used to have a section for artists to post about problems with galleries although I just checked it and the format has changed. Looks like you have to join to see the discussions now.

lisa said...

Just found this post- I was wondering if I could ask some questions-
How do you know that your gallery is selling your work at the right retail price-do you ask for copies of invoices or bill of sales and do they give them?
Also-do any of you deal with the 20% discount that you are asked to absorb with the dealer-? In my case when i suggest he absorbs the extra ten -I get flack and back down because so much work is sold
yet most galleries just do the occasional 10%
I appreciate any input
I am in NJ dealing with people in TX,Atlanta on blind faith -not to mention locally

Karen Jacobs said...

Lisa, I've tried to answer your question in my latest blog post (9-12-08)