Are Consignment Galleries the Answer?

Many artists are thrilled at the idea of having gallery representation, and that’s understandable. But are they performing for you?


Gallery Interior


Should you work with a consignment gallery to help sell your work? Maybe. Consignment can be a positive or negative experience depending on the situation and the parties involved. Going into a consignment arrangement with a plan and an informed mindset will help you get the most out of the experience. Ask yourself:

Is the gallery a good fit? Do your research before approaching any gallery or store to make sure that what they currently sell is complementary to your work. Does your art fit with their focus or theme? Are your prices in a range that works with the other stock they have? Identifying appropriate galleries is an important first step to take before making any inquiries about consignment.

Have you gotten good feedback from other artists? What experience have other artists had with the gallery? Since many gallery relationships are started through networking and social activities, you may be able to speak with artists who already work with them. Do they promote their artists and work hard to make sales? Do they pay on time? Are they trustworthy?

Do you have a contract? It’s amazing the number of artists who deliver their work to a gallery or consignment store and have no written contract. Damage, loss or failure to keep an agreement can be resolved when the contract is on paper – not verbal. If a gallery closes and keeps your stock, or there is a misunderstanding, it can be disastrous. A clear written and signed contract lets all parties know the parameters of the agreement the terms and conditions, and that’s a good thing.

Have you set sales goals, and are they realistic? Being represented by a gallery is great, but not so much if sales aren’t happening. Speak with the gallery manager or the store owner and get a clear idea of how much exposure and promotion you will get. Will your work be on display and for how long? The last thing you want is to find that your work is in their back room instead of on the floor. When you have an understanding with the gallery, it will enable you to set goals for the sales you expect to have. After a period of time, evaluate whether the relationship is working out. Were your goals realistic? Are you meeting them? Or would it be better to discontinue the relationship and sell elsewhere?

Do you have a way to keep track of your inventory? When your art is out of the studio and at different galleries or shops, you must stay organized so you can locate each piece in your inventory. Who has what? When should work be shipped? You can use a spreadsheet for this purpose, or a service like Artwork Archive that makes it easy to stay on top of this essential information, and more.

Take these steps to make sure you connect with the right galleries, have a clear contract, understand your relationship and set sales goals, and stay organized. It will put you in a position where you have more control over your inventory, sales, planning and your small business.


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