A lot of my writing and podcasting is about the process of preparing to present your work to galleries and about how to establish relationships with gallery owners. In today’s podcast I’ll look at what happens when a relationship with a gallery doesn’t work out and how to end the relationship.
What have you experienced when ending a relationship with a gallery?
Have you had to terminate a relationship with a gallery? Why did you end the relationship? Was ending the relationship difficult or awkward? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.
I have been painting for a long time. My reason has nothing to do with wanting fame, money, friends, or anything else for that matter. I paint for the same reason that I breathe. Eat, drink, and perform other essential activities and functions. chanit.com
My website is quite old. Yet you can easily see what I am about.
I do very much wish for you to see at least some of my work. I am a passionate painter.
My mediums of choice are Oil and Watercolor. My website is quite old. I post many paintings on Facebook, as well as on Instagram. I would appreciate any words you care to offer and be grateful for whatever input you have.
It is hard to say good by to a gallery that has sold your work. The most important thing when you leave is to be diplomatic and not say things you would later regret. Be kind. The Art World is small. When I left a gallery I said that my prices had gone up and I felt it was time for me to move to another gallery as sales had dropped in their gallery. I did not leave that gallery until I had another. I wished them well, warmly thanked them for selling my work and believing in me, and said it had been a pleasure. I asked them to please keep me on the gallery mailing list. I did feel that the owner had gotten less interested in running the gallery, and in about two years the gallery closed.
I ended what had been a successful relationship with a gallery when I discovered that a vulnerable stone sculpture that was not currently on display had been stored precariously on a shelf under a bench. It was resting in a way that could allow it to slide onto the floor, and it was stored with a variety of objects that could easily scratch it. Meanwhile, the form-fitting crate I had brought it in was stored in a completely different place that was difficult to reach (that is why they hadn’t bothered to store the sculpture properly). As well, we discovere another crate was stored outside and had gotten wet. I still like the gallery and the owner, but don’t want the risk of exhibiting there.
I have said goodbye to two galleries. Both were unable to survive economically for different reasons. I was sad to lose them. I still use the portable display walls the first one gave me to save them from the landfill. A regret I have is not asking for a testimonial from the sweet people who sold my work for years.
I ended a relationship with a gallery that I’d been with for a few years when the owner stopped paying in a timely manner. At one point, 4 paintings had sold and I hadn’t received a payment for them – and it had been 8 months. I had to be insistent on payment and kept bugging the owner, and that was super uncomfortable. The day I left I felt so relieved.
Hi Jason, you may remember me as we did one of your artist interviews together a few months ago. I just listened to your podcast #17. The timing was amazing. I actually have an appointment this morning with one of my gallery owners. I have been in this gallery that is 30 minutes from where I live for about ten years. It is in a well known resort town on the beach. Last year the previous owners retired and sold the gallery to a young man from AZ. He is somewhat new to the gallery business, but when he bought the gallery he contacted each of the artists and met with us. He sounded like he was going to go out to make it successful and try some more updated strategies. They actually sold quite a few paintings for me in the last six months that he has been the owner. The problem is mainly that he doesn’t pay, not just me but all the artists. It takes 3-5 months to get paid, and that seems to be only after we contact him over and over. Our contract says 30 days. There really are no other galleries in the area, sadly, and I like having representation there.
Last night I typed up a termination of our contract with a list of the inventory with the idea of having it ready to pick up my work if I felt that was the way to go. After listening to your podcast I plan to type up a cover letter explaining why I am leaving, and if I decide to stay after our meeting what changes I would like to see happen. I prayed about what to do in this situation,(as in 20 years I have never had to do this before) and then I listened to your podcast this morning and it was exactly what I needed to hear. That’s what I meant about perfect timing. Possibly I need to look for a gallery out of the area. It may be time. I tend to be very loyal, and it is great not to have to ship everything. I am in 7 galleries within driving distance, including this one. Any advice. Thank you! Sheryl
That the reporting artist was being notably slow-paid by that gallery, wasn’t being pro-actively told if there had been sales, was owed money, and expressed concern about non-payment if they terminated the arrangement, is all too much of a red flag. I know of at least one notorious gallery in a great market, no longer in existence. As an artist, I would not want the continuing negative impact of those concerns, and I observed the negative impact on a fellow artist, who sought legal advice from me. As a gallerist, the legal and/or ethical principle that the artist’s share for a sold work is in trust for the artist, promotes paying promptly and not having the funds exposed to other uses. A gallery that is deliberately funding itself that way?
Often I am thinking of my gallery experience in San Francisco for quite a while. The gallery owner invited me to a show about ten years ago. My first showing there was very pleasant. I did meet many the people and was introduce to artists and collectors. Two weeks after the opening night the gallerist called about my smallest piece. It had been stolen. That was quite a shock. She said, it was the first time this happened to her. She reimbursed me.
I had a larger show there with three other artists. The opening was a beautiful event. She was able to sell several of my pieces. I was pleased.
At a follow-up meeting she did not tell me for how much money she actually sold my largest artwork. She sold it to a “friend” of hers with an art collection. But she gave me a receipt about $8,000, which was less than I was asking. She did not want me to contact him, nor gave me his number. That all was very secretive. But what broke the camels back, so to speak, was the fact that she handed me the receipt asking not to declare taxes for that. I could not do this since it is my business. So I did file taxes about that sale anyway, what ended our relationship in a disagreement. I never fully recovered from that experience since we did get along great. I liked her and her gallery a lot. About five years ago, I discovered that her galley was closed.
This is such a difficult subject. I feel it’s much easier if you have another artist who is already at a particular Gallery who can refer you and let you know the gallery’s policies. After applying to a significant amount of galleries, I’ve had the experience of gaining representation at a gallery some distance from my home that seemed to be a good fit. At first communication they were very enthusiastic and did sell some of my work. As time went on, communication became so poor I never knew if a payment was coming my way until months later. Although I still feel like my work would be a good fit for the area, dealing with difficult communication where (1) I did not feel value as an artist (2) could not keep track of where my work was, and (3) calls/emails etc are unanswered, has forced me to request my work to be shipped back to me, at my cost. I’d be pretty sour, but another gallery that represents me is the complete opposite, so I’m okay with moving on and trying not to burn any bridges along the way. Really, without some kind of personal referral, we take a chance that any gallery is being respectful and legitimate with our work and paying when they ought to.
In my opinion, communication and paperwork are key ingredients, in case things go really bad and you have to sue, but if you don’t have those you have no guarantees at all. The bad apples are ruining it for the rest, and fueling the idea that galleries are a thing of the past.
Was in a small neighborhood gallery in Boston about 20 years ago. Did everything wrong, didn’t get a contract, didn’t check on how they displayed my artwork…and didn’t ask why I saw an artist crying while leaving the gallery the first time I brought in work. The one thing I did correctly was keep an inventory of what I brought in.
They sold a piece, they said. But, when I went in to pick up my share of the sale, they refused, stated that the entire selling price was theirs to keep. The owner’s girlfriend also said that the piece sold because of the size (it was the largest piece they had on display), not the quality of the work.
Got pissed, took all of my work out of that gallery, that day. I was surprised at the storeroom’s disregard for safe storage of artwork, too. Wish I had looked in there before leaving my work with them. Yes, two canvases had dents, but I repaired them.
They no longer exist, by the way. No surprise.
Discovered today that I am still pissed. But, was a good lesson which led to my finding “Starving to Successful”…and learning how to approach business in a real way. Not all the gallery’s fault; was my fault, too.
I’ve had my work shown in two very ethical galleries—no problems ever. Once, I did put several pieces in a show run by the “friend of a friend” and had a less than satisfactory experience. Was saved by having a contract that specified the artist’s price as well as the suggested retail price. The largest painting sold, and when the check arrived, it was less than the specified artist’s price. I called the person running the show who said she’d given a discount to her friend who bought it and took that off of my price. Because of the contract, I was able to (with some stern discussion) get the full amount of the contracted artist’s price. Never did business with her again. This was especially shocking and disappointing as her mother is a professional artist. If a gallery owner wants to give a discount it should come out of their cut. I never discount my work.