All you need to know about working with Galleries

In many ways, looking for a gallery to work with is like applying for a job. You should start by researching a number of galleries and see which you would like to work with. It needs to be a good fit on a number of levels, thinking of both what you’re looking for and what they’re looking for. There are a number of things to consider besides artistic compatibility when you decide to work with a gallery and Mary La Trobe Bateman of Contemporary Applied Arts has listed some of them here:


The Gallery

  • Research the gallery and its market before sending off work; make sure that it is suitable.
  • Make an appointment to show your work - don’t assume cold calling is fine.
  • Decide what you want from a gallery (e.g. sales, PR, status).
  • Some galleries will demand exclusivity; weigh up the pros and cons carefully.
  • When sending information about your work, include your promotional material, a good quality slide of your work, your design CV and press release, all well presented.
  • Refer your clients/customers to the gallery.
  • If you want to sell direct through your workshop, make sure that the gallery knows and that the prices are similar to those charged in the gallery.
  • Remember that you can establish your reputation through a gallery.
  • Good photographs are essential; remember that the person receiving the images must be intrigued and informed.
  • Inform the gallery of other outlets selling your work.
  • Galleries work on a mark-up, sale or return or commission basis.
  • If work is commissioned through a gallery, always meet deadlines and use a commissioning agreement.
  • When sending work to galleries, it is good practice to use a consignment agreement and consignment receipt.
  • The gallery will usually expect you to pay for the cost of delivery.
  • Many galleries will ask for work on a SOR basis until they have confidence in your work.
  • Galleries will exhibit the work for a fixed period. This should be communicated in the exhibiting and consignment agreement.
  • Ask details about the exhibition in which your work will be shown.
  • Find out where work will be displayed and whether there are any specific promotions for the exhibition.
  • If the work does not sell, find out why. It could be a poor location or wrong market, but it is important to know the reason. Always get as much feedback from your work as possible, and agree dates for the return of unsold goods.
  • Build a good relationship with selected galleries. Keep them informed about new work, exhibitions and promotions. When a gallery has accepted you, keep in contact with them and respect their expertise.


Lastly check insurance cover!

Courtesy of Mary La Trobe Bateman, Contemporary Applied Arts

Note: CAA is a membership organisation. It has an application form, available from the gallery. Before making an application please visit the gallery to see if your work is suitable.


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