Do you give customer names to a gallery?

ShawN shawN • Good question Yoram. I think your response depends on how reputable the gallery is. Why is that? If you have a good relationship, then giving them contact info on customers, they could expand your sales at existing customers if you continue to sell with that gallery. Some artists are very fond of their galleries like Gehardt Richter.

Another take is if you have little confidence in the gallery or you believe they are not representing you well, then yes, I would keep the list. If you have such a bad relationship with the gallery, then why are you even selling there?

A third take is that this is a gallery in business to make money. By giving a reputable gallery or proven gallery your customer list, they should be able to drive sales from them and their friends. Additionally, any 3rd party selling your work needs to be paid, so there will be a commission. They cannot stay in business otherwise and generally should multiply your sales vs. steal sales. I personally tripled my sales price going to a gallery.

If you have an art show, you should promote the show to your own contacts as well with your own invitations and not depend solely on the gallery. Hope this helps!

How do you feel about paying gallery fees that take fifty percent of the selling price of your work?


ShawN shawN • Great question Richard. I think all artists debate on the commission to the gallery that feels reasonable. Currently, I am at a gallery at 80/20, which is unusual and pay rent as well. Their old setup was 55/45 and rent. The new rate is much better, but the location just isn’t pulling in clients as much. 

My rule of thumb is are they selling your work briskly? If they are doing a great job selling your work, you may be able to find another gallery far away to start selling work as well at better commission rates. Your work should be selling and in the marketplace to increase prices long term. If this 50/50 gallery is selling work and you don’t have to pay to show, that’s not bad as long as they are moving the work. As you get better known, you can negociate a better split. 

The best example is Damien Hirst. He was selling well in UK galleries, but still had the bulk of his best work. Then after he was well-established, he went around the galleries to the auction houses and lowered his cost from the 60/40 down to the 3% of auction houses. Now for the majority of artists, they just aren’t going to reach Hirst demand to try that. A gallery does do marketing and selling for you while you work. 

Another thing is that for the gallery split you can build their split into your price, so you don’t feel ripped off. Just remember galleries are offering a valuable service of selling while you paint. 

I think focusing on getting your work into multiple cities and doing your own marketing will help bring up your prices, so you can afford the 50/50 split or bargain for a lower split elsewhere. No marketing leads to low sales and low prices long-term.