I left off last time with a promise that we would talk about agents and artists’ representatives. If want to catch-up on past newsletters go to the archives.
Let’s assume that you are better at painting than at selling. Art won’t sell itself. It takes a strategy, a plan, and someone to implement that plan. If it is not you, then it must be someone else. So budget it. I have prepared a very simple plan and budget. The plan is based on lining up four galleries and anticipating modest sales. It is a reasonable start. I have budgeted for an artist representative.
Your first impulse might be to pay your representative a percentage of sales. Sales are important, but long term relationships are more important because we are building a business. Relationships with galleries, with other artists, with collectors and clients don’t happen automatically. An artist’s representative should help facilitate sales and help build relationships with galleries. It’s more than just selling.
I want the artist’s representative to follow the plan. I want them to be successful. I want to define success as selecting and having excellent shows in four galleries the first year. I want to define success by sales, of course, but I also want the gallery to purchase and inventory my art at the end of the show.
You will want to be very specific in what you want them to do and the steps in the process they should follow. The representative must be enthusiastic, professional and make a very good first impression. So I put $3,200 in the budget. That works out to $800 per gallery.served. For that I would expect my rep to identifying and recruiting excellent galleries. They would schedule and promote the show and support the gallery as needed.
I hope that it is a good experience for your rep. I hope they are successful and enjoyed working with you. I hope they sign up other artists to represent and you would be wise to support that.
Now, if they were getting paid a percentage of sales, you could see where there might be problems with a representative selling art for a number of artists. But with the system I am suggesting, success is easily measured. If the gallery stocks your prints after the show, and continues to sell your prints, then the representative has been successful. If the gallery is looking forward to your next releases and your next show, then your representative has been successful. I think your rep will enjoy the work the way we have structured it. Believe me, it is better than going from town to town with a trunk full of art!
Here is an example of a very simple plan.
Strategies: (Strategies are choices that you make. You state your strategies firmly with conviction. Don’t waffle or equivocate)
1. I will focus on painting and preparing for the next release.
2. I will find someone to help promote, screen, select and work with galleries.
3. I will chose to sell through galleries who are successful at selling prints like mine.
4. I will seek out and take advantage of as much free publicity as I can get.
1. To have released five limited edition prints of 50 by June 1, 2013.
2. To have held successful shows in at least four galleries by the end of the year so that each of those galleries will continue to carry my prints in their inventory beyond the show date.
3. To have sold 50 prints by the end of the year. (If I am conservative in the number of prints you might sell, its ok.)
For the sake of this example, let’s say that your prints are 18×24 image size 21×27 with a 1 ½ inch border on canvas. I always take the price of a print at the 3-5 quantity and multiply by 5 or 6 to arrive at a suggested retail price. In this example $62 x 5 equals a retail price of $310.
|Prints sold directly to customer||10||$310||$3,100|
|Prints sold through galleries at shows||20||$217||$4,340|
|Prints sold to galleries after shows||20||$155||$3,100|
|Total First Year’s Print Sales||$10,540|
|Cost of Goods Sold||50||$62||$3,100|
|Advertising (10% of gross sales)||$740|
|Post Cards (500)||$300|
|Telephone (long distance)||$100|
|Artists Representative ($800 per gallery x 4 galleries)||$3,200|
Not bad for a modest first year start. Most new business don’t see a profit the first year. If you do, great! Even if you don’t make a profit the first year, the next year you will want your representative to schedule shows in the existing galleries so you can release your new editions and also pick up four to six new galleries. You are building a distribution network. I hope things are falling into place.
It starts with selecting the right gallery. Then supporting your galleries properly and generating traffic and sales through the gallery during the show. Don’t forget to sell the prints to the gallery at the end of the show or pick them up. Do not even think about consignment sales beyond then.