(Note: I posted this yesterday, but realized it would make a good Friday Tips discussion.Â Besides,Â it’s Friday night and I’m late for a dinner party.Â Does this mean I’m cheating?Â Yeah, a little, but I did broaden the topic.)Â
I was asked toÂ speak beforeÂ an influential group of retired businessmen and women this past summer. By â€œinfluentialâ€ I basically mean millionaires.Â But listen, not all rich folks are jerks.Â Many started with nothing, never forgot where they came from, and are generous beyond description, especiallyÂ with the underprivileged.Â Several of those types were present.
They dug the talk, the relevance of participating in the arts in our region, and helping the region to grow culturally. Nice round of applause. Most came up to thank me afterward, and I knew Iâ€™d won a few new clients. But one dude, inevitably, came up to tell me about his sonâ€™s practice, how they couldnâ€™t afford art (yeah, right), but would I be willing to loan them works in exchange for the â€œexposureâ€ the artists would get?
I thought of Louie Coptâ€™s standard response to this kind of presumption: â€œMan, I know artists who have died of exposure.â€
But as the art dealer I have to be diplomatic. So I just gave the dude a card, telling him in a certain tone that Iâ€™d think about it. He never called, apparently able to read a tone.Â Man, some people. I mean, do you think this guy ever worked for free?
My point?Â When you’re an emerging artist, you’ll inevitably have to do these gigs.Â We all have.Â But here are the rules:
1)Â The host insures the work for its retail value.
2)Â The exhibition should last no longer than 60 days.
3)Â A table will be cleared for your cards, bios, press, etc.
4)Â All works will be priced with a title card.
5)Â A guest book will be set out where browsers can write their contact info.
6)Â Offer a 10% commission to all the office workers, should they facilitate a sale.Â Believe me it works, and is better than retaining 100% of nothin.
7)Â Offer the host a discount at the end of the exhibit, if it helps to place a piece.
We never sold much doing these exhibits, since it normally takes a sales person to sell anything, including art.Â But we did pick up a few clients, the hosts were grateful, and many later became collectors.Â However, if the host has no interest in your work personally, I advise you not do it.Â It’s important that they feel passion for what you do, so that the passion will become infectious.