Blog No. 11 / The Cost of Selling / by steve joseph

Artists often get all squirmish when talking about money, how to price their work, what sells and what doesn't. It is a private and emotional subject for many. Personally I am still figuring out who my clients are, and the best way to get my work in front of their noses. 

As I see it, an artist has many choices of showing and selling art. The more you get work out there, the more opportunities there are for sales, and the more you know how much people want to pay for your art. 

I am going to talk about costs here, and use figures I have personally collected from mid 2014.  I aim to educate and offer options to fellow artist on the cost to sell your art. 

If you are in a hurry to show you can rent a gallery and have them work for you to produce a show exactly the way you want. This is quite expensive but most of the visiting public won't know the difference between this and other galleries.

Recently I was approached to join a gallery in Chelsea. $500 to join, $200/month for a minimum of 2 years. This allows you to show for a full month exhibition sometime in the first 2 years of your membership. This will be a 1- or 2-man show. The gallery takes 10% of the sales, and there are a few smaller expenses to pay while the show is up. The final cost is $5,300.  

Earlier this summer I was asked to show at one of the sectors at the Art Basel in Miami. $3,000 for the wall space, plus I would pay and arrange the delivery and return of my work, travel, hotel, and time on the floor. The gallery takes 10% of the sales. My estimated total expenses would be about $5,000 for a 4 day showing.

Your standard gallery with a 50/50 split. Perfect if they have the proper clients who want to buy your work. Each gallery is completely different of what they offer. Always have a contract, and leave the work there for a year or less.

5. "WESTERN CHOICE" - I was juried into a exhibit outside of New York where 20 works were shown for a month long exhibition. They paid me $300 to deliver the work. The gallery took 30% of the sales and I estimate my total expenses were under $500. They requested I be at the opening. The public was super eager to attend the opening night, and I sold 7 works.

6. "POP UP"- Last but not least, showing at a restaurant here in New York City. I negotiated a nice long four-month-long-gig. The space was a great match for my work, and the restaurant has really down to earth owners. As the work sold I was able to replace it with new work. My expenses were under $200, since I could jump in a cab to bring the work there, and there was no commission. I had excellent sales, and gave a work to the owners as a thank you.

7. "RESIDENCY CHOICE" - Some residencies allow sales during your visit, which I plan on doing at the Torpedo Factory this September 2014. I have no idea who will be stopping in, but I will have a series of greeting cards for sale and larger glass items selling up to $900. 

8. "STUDIO SALES" - Sell directly out of your studio. $0 expenses.

9. Give you work to family and friends.

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