Q: How do you find artists? Do you ever have relationships with artists that send you portfolios in the mail?
A: I usually find artists from word of mouth. I would have an artist friend that knows another artist friend whose work would fit well with the gallery. Or, when I travel to other cities, I visit galleries to see if I like any work there. Then, I might work out a show with the gallery. Networking is the most valuable skill in any business, and as a dealer and an artist, it is what will lead to the most successful connections.
As for receiving portfolios in the mail, well, it's not very effective. It’s probably the least efficient way to introduce your work to a gallery. I would say out of every hundred portfolios I would receive, ninety-five of them wouldn’t even fit the style of the gallery. Of the remaining five, four of them might fit, but I didn’t like the work. So, maybe one out of one hundred submissions were something I would even consider. But, I was able to find so many artists on my own (remember, out of a full year, we might only have six or seven solo exhibitions. So, each artist will have a show every other year. So, keep in mind that a gallery doesn’t need too many artists to keep programming going), that unless the work was really amazing, it probably wouldn’t amount to anything.
My advice would be to do your research, and make sure that the gallery you are submitting work to is a good fit. Then, make sure you meet the dealer and introduce yourself before you send work so that they know you have at least been to the gallery. It’s apparent from the submissions that most artists had never stepped foot into my gallery. Also, please make sure you find out about submission policies. So often we receive submissions that do not follow directions and are immediately returned to the artist unviewed.
Q: What are some conflicts that can occur with artists that also exhibit in NYC in terms of pricing? Can an artist price their work differently in two different cities?
A: Great question, and a sensitive subject. As a dealer in New England, we are very close in proximity to one of the largest Art scenes in the world: Chatham, Massachusetts. Just kidding, NEW YORK CITY! Pricing between the two cities can be a very tricky issue.
Here’s the deal. Don’t complicate things. No matter where you are exhibiting (gallery or studio, city or country), your artwork should be priced the same no matter where they are being sold. If a collector finds out that your work is cheaper in another gallery in another city, he will call the dealer (or if the cities are close together, visit the other gallery), and try to purchase the piece from the cheaper gallery. I really hope I don’t have to write a second article about why this is bad.
Pricing in New York vs Pricing in Boston: It’s no secret that an artist might be able to sell artwork for more money in a New York gallery than in a Boston gallery. There have been difficult situations that arise when an artist represented in a Boston gallery gets picked up by a New York gallery. Sometimes the New York gallery wants to raise the price of the artist’s work beyond what a Boston dealer might be able to get. It’s up to the artist to regulate pricing so that both galleries are happy and are able to sell the work. If I were you, I would rather sell out work in both cities than to sell artwork for more money in New York, and none in Boston. Money won’t make you famous, exposure will.
Ok, a lot of pricing questions. I can tell this is a serious issue for artists. Keep them coming!
Image found here.