Shipping my art to San Francisco - Goodbye and Godspeed!
Shipping off art leaves me with a strange feeling - but I must say that I'm getting used to it. It's a strange thing to ship art to galleries whose owners you have never met in person. It takes trust and the good sense to know when you might be getting scammed or, on the other hand, if you have a great opportunity. For me, I feel trust when I can email back and fourth with the gallery. It takes time to get to know how they work and make all of the agreements necessary to see if you can even work together. When the gallery takes the time to answer all of my questions and offers additional insight into their operations then I understand who I am going to be working with. Do you want a business partner who you can ask about how they plan to sell your work? I think so.
I have received emails from all over the world asking me to join galleries where, for a fee, I can show my work. I am even distrustful of these people emailing me to participate in their show where I must pay to exhibit or pay a submission/"jury" fee. These emails are usually inpersonal and don't invite any discussion/questions.
These are a few of the things to consider if a gallery is contacting you about your work:
1. There is no fee for you to exhibit your work, and no jury fee.
2. The gallery either pays for shipping art to and from the gallery, or in many cases, they will pay for return shipping to you in the case that your work doesn't sell.
3. It's great if you know one or more of the artists that they represent so that you can ask them how their experience has been in dealing with the gallery.
4. Do they take the time to answer your email questions?
5. What is their commission?
6. Do they expect you to only sell work exclusively through them and if so how wide is their territory for that? Only within a certain state or province? Within a certain country? Or anywhere?
7. How do they promote their artists?
8. Call the gallery randomly - it's like dropping in on them unnannounced. Are they professional? Do they know who you are? Do they treat you well? Do they answer your questions and give you their time?
Ask them to send you a copy of the contract that is standard with their artists so that you can see what terms they have with their artists. Never be afraid to ask a question that will put them on the spot. If they squirm then they are trying to take advantage of you. If they don't they'll just be impressed that you are taking this business proposition seriously.