Squeezed out

22 August 2006

Dear Patricia,
I would like to invite you to participate in an exhibition in April next year in Fisher’s gallery. It will be a group exhibition with 2 other artists and will have the theme of surrealism. I think that this will be a very strong exhibition and would be a great opportunity to properly introduce your work to our clients.

I replied that I certainly would have 10 paintings ready in April, but first I needed to know more about paragraph 6 of the contract … Paragraph 6 says that an exposition costs me money, which will be ‘passed on’ into my account. And with ‘pass on’ he probably doesn’t mean it is included in the commission of 40%

Actually, I already have decided that I don’t want to exhibit if a gallery wants me to pay even 1 dollar for invitations, postage, vernissage, advertisements or whatever on top of a high commission.

squeezed out

Sandpapering a new canvas

There are 2 types of galleries;
One rents out walls per meter and the artist is in charge for the invitations, postage, ads. The gallery only asks a small commission for every single sold work. The other type of gallery calculates a higher commission (per sold work) where all costs are already included.
The difference is that the first type of gallery is not at risk. Not any customers, but the artist himself provides a solid base income for these galleries. If there is still some selling, than that’s a bonus for the gallery. Amongst artists … this is the circuit for the desperates. If you ever did this kind of business, you don’t brag about it as being a real exhibition. It’s called a vanity gallery.
Fisher pretends to be a gallery of the second kind. The luxurious type that claims to be able to estimate the potential of an artist and then actively trying to sell the artworks via their sophisticated customer base. “A customer base that has been built in 130 years and must be the cream of the crop!” That partly will be based on the truth, because there is hanging┬ásome very expensive stuff at Fisher’s. In return, the artist must give exclusivity to this type of gallery and is not allowed to exhibit anywhere else in the country.
I’m willing. However. I am very loyal, though! But I’m not let tarnishing my exclusivity, while I also have to pay for it myself.

squeezed out

My first Very Big canvas

Fisher’s promised to reply within a week. Last week passed and no answer. How surprising. Actually, it doesn’t matter how high or low the costs will be, I already composed an email he would find in his inbox on Monday.

Dear Mr. Fisher,
After careful consideration and thorough reading of the exhibition agreement I came to the following conclusion.
I’m used to work with galleries showing their confidence in the marketability of my work through an exhibition without additional cost for me (apart from the 40% commission of course). I understand Fisher’s has a different policy, so I think our paths must part here.

Saves him counting. It seemed obvious to me that he only could get me without costs for me. And I honestly hoped that we were finished at this point, though of course I would play the game to a proper end.
On Monday Fisher’s assistant was on my answering machine, asking me if I was ‘upset’ about something. Well, I’m not comfortable to make phone calls in English yet, so I replied by email that my sudden objections were purely business related. In new words I tried to explain again that I was not willing to be charged on top of the commission.
squeezed outsqueezed outThe next day I received his reply; A quite standard sales pitch, like why only THEY are such a good gallery and that they would continue to represent me after the exhibition. Nevertheless concluding the email by asking what they had to do with my paintings which are still there … So, no attempt to look from my point of view, but that’s okay, because otherwise both parties feel that they have to do a favor to the other.

3 thoughts on “Squeezed out

  1. From what I’ve seen and read over the past years, I think those galleries must be stinking rich! Then to also let you pay for the invites, stamps and the other costs is just ridiculous. What’s the 40% for??

    • Yes … my thoughts too :-/
      And I’m within my right to have an opinion in this case, because I have run a gallery myself! TSAH!
      (for the records; I did 30% included everything)

      • And THAT is what I would expect, they do all the work, but that includes the stamps and nibbles on the opening night! Geez!

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