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gallery commission etc.

updated mon 21 jun 99


Janet Kaiser on thu 17 jun 99

Speaking as a gallery....

I am amazed that commission in the US is 50=25 when work is exhibited
=22sale-or-return=22. Is that true? Or is it just a different way of =
oneself? For example, The Chapel of Art (The CoA) takes 30=25 commission of =
selling price. But to arrive at this selling price the maker has the add =
45=25 to what they want.
Using =24 (pound sterling sign does not work): A pot sells at =24100, so =
gets =2430 and the maker =2470.
It is therefore no good saying The maker wants =2470 and then adding 30=25 =
of =2470 (=3D
=2421) because there is then a =249 shortfall on the selling price.

I think it is important every beginner should be made aware of these =
=22sums=22 and
how they can get inadvertently caught out.

Also any taxes payable? In the UK galleries pay 17.5=25 value added tax =
(VAT) on
their commission (only). The maker pays VAT only if his/her turnover is more
than UKPounds 37,000 per year. That means 17.5=25 of the 30=25 needs to be =
added to
the gallery commission, which effectively makes a 55=25 mark-up on the =
price. To get around these dreadful sums, many makers simply state what they
want for their work and the gallery sorts the rest out.

I am also pleasantly surprised that so many Clay Arters consider a contract
absolutely essential. We thought a contract was pretty essential too, so =
parties are well and truly covered for all eventualities, from earthquake to
breakage. However, we have had all sorts of strange reactions (usually along=
lines of =22dont you trust me/us?=22) and have more or less given up the =
idea of
signing contracts with potters (as opposed to other artists).

It was explained to me by a potter/sculptress of about twenty years =
(A) it was the first time she had been offered/asked to enter into a =
(B) she did not see why she should bind herself (=21=21=21) although it was =
just UP TO
five pieces max. for a mixed exhibition=3B
(C) we potters are simple folk who do not go in for all this sort of =
and legal stuff - it is daunting
(D) a contract is no substitute for =22trust=22

We (The CoA) believe it is all very well to trust people, BUT, what happens =
there is some dispute? I should add here that our contract (known as a
=22consignment agreement=22 because the work is consigned to our care until =
time as it is sold) is accompanied by a =22consignment note=22 stating =
which pieces, what price, any damage on delivery and declaration by the =
whether lead or cadmium has been used in the glaze/s or not.

This list is then used as the artist/makers =22account=22 and shows the =
price, commission, artist/makers price, date delivered, date sold and date
artist paid. It is updated at the end of every month when the artist/maker =
paid IN FULL. At the end of the exhibition the account then shows all totals
sold and paid and the number of pieces (if any) to be returned.

Now this also appears to be unusual practice in the UK, with many =
waiting weeks and months for payments and having to visit galleries to check
that their work is still there and/or chasing up elusive administrators for =

The CoA thinks this is unacceptable and unethical behaviour by galleries and=
it seems to be common practice=21=21 How much easier if a business-like =
contract is
undertaken and everything runs smoothly? I hope lots of UK potters are =
this thread thoroughly=21 I believe it is time everyone got wise to the fact=
since there has been a huge rise in the number of =22outlets=22 there are =
some quite
dubious characters around.... They may be the black sheep in an otherwise
lily-white flock, but that is no comfort if if the maker is left out of =

Which brings us back to the best advice I can give:
(1) Listen to what others say about a specific venue/gallery. If there have =
really serious problems (and not just a personality clash, genuine mistakes =
misunderstandings) spread the word and boycott places that do not meet an
acceptable standard.
(2) When approaching or being approached by a gallery, do they seem =
interested in you and your work or are they obviously just looking for =
to fill spaces and shelves?
(3) Do you get to speak to =22the boss=22 or some other person in authority,=
or are
you fobbed off with some lesser person? Do you feel happy with that contact
person... Yes, what is your =22gut=22 feeling about the set-up?
(4) Always visit a prospective =22outlet=22 and look at the quality of work =
on display... Does it meet/match your standards? Is it well displayed? Are =
staff knowledgeable and helpful?
(5) Ask for a specimen agreement, take it home to read it at your leisure =
and do
not sign anything =22in the heat of the moment=22.
(6) Stay cool, calm and collected=21 It may be your first gallery exhibition=
something to get really excited about, but do not let that make you get =
away. Find out as much as possible before you agree to the =22whole =
(7) Make sure the contract states clearly =22the work remains the property =
of the
maker until paid for in full=22. That is very important should the place go =
(8) Get a signature on a receipt for all work delivered and make sure a =
in authority signs (not part-time staff or the janitor=21)
(9) Keep your own lists and accounts, do not rely on the gallery
(10) Make sure your prices are consistent. There is nothing worse for buyers
than to see work by a maker one price at one gallery and a different price =
time they see it elsewhere=21 Keep your studio prices only slightly less... =
is a concession to people making the effort to travel to you and the =
profit does not come amiss=21=21

FINALLY, all this only applies to a specific exhibition for a set period of
time. If a gallery wants your work on permanent exhibition then think =
of only selling your work to them =22wholesale=22. It is not fair for =
galleries to
hold your work for indefinitely without =22putting their money where their =
is=22... If they believe your work is worth exhibiting they should jolly =
well pay
up front=21

So there=21

Good luck=21 Let us know how you get on=21

Janet Kaiser

The Chapel of Art, Criccieth, GB-Wales
Home of The International Potters Path

Maryann Jones on sun 20 jun 99

In a message dated 6/17/99 5:32:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< gallery >>
Also speaking as a Gallery owner in northern Michigan, the following "pricing
method" may be helpful if you are setting a retail price, and expecting your
full "cut" after the sale. If the gallery works on a 40% commission, you
take the reciprocal amount of 100% and divide. For have a
pot that you need $10. for......divide your price by .60 to arrive at a
retail price. a 45% commission would mean dividing by .55. Simply adding
45% to your asking price, will not result in being paid your full price. I
am not a math don't ask me why this works....but it does. Think
in terms of 100.....whatever the gallery commission is, you divide by the
remainder of 100 after subtracting the gallery percentage amount. Your $
10 pot, would be retail priced at $16.67 in a true 40% commission situation.
In our gallery, we round up to an even amount, so usually the potter gets a
few odd cents more than the $10 asking price.

And for the record...... :-) we pay EVERY month, on the 20th of the month
for work sold. We also pay in full, for any work that is placed in layaway,
so the potter is not waiting for the item to finally be paid off. Checks are
mailed to everyone entitled. We are potters ourselves, some galleries are
potter friendly, AND honest too! :-)


Maryann Jones
Fired Earth Pottery Studio
121 E. Nelson St.
Cadillac, MI 49601
(231) 775-0888