Photo Courtesy Laughing Squid
Once you’re in a gallery, theÂ consignment agreementÂ should be a straightforward, no-nonsense aspect ofÂ the arrangement.Â Normally itÂ goes like this:Â
The director agrees to take your work.Â You consign perhaps six pieces to her.Â You deliver the work, and she prints out and signs a consignment sheet for you.Â My consignment sheets generally read as follows:
Â To Whom it May Concern:
Â This is to confirm that Donna Quackenbush, artist, has consigned toÂ Â Leopold Gallery the following oil paintings:
“Sur Le Pont,”Â 36 x 48,Â $3000
“Ornamental Wind,”Â 36 x 44,Â $2700
“Remain in Light,”Â 28 x 36,Â $2300
“Petra,” 28 x 36, $2300
These paintings are consigned for a minimum of 12 weeks from theÂ above date.Â The paintings listed will be insured for their appraisedÂ worth against loss or damage for any reason whatever by Leopold Gallery during the period of exhibition.Â Â Leopold GalleryÂ will receiveÂ a commission of 50% of gross on any sales that are made during the period of consignment, or as a result of exposure that Donna Quackenbush received therefrom, or from any insurance claim.
Artist will be paid within 30 days of each sale, or any insurance claims.
With sufficiency acknowledged, I sign my name in good faith.
Paul DorrellÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Donna Quackenbush
DirectorÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Artist
Note that the sheet lists the title, size and price of each work.Â It also lists the commission charged, and the fact that insuring the pieces is my responsibility.Â This should always be the gallery’s responsibility, even for fools who are so broke that they allow their insurance to lapse (as I did before the ’97 fire).
Regarding percentages, I charge varying commissionsÂ on works in varying media, as listed below.
In most galleries, you’ll find it is standard to charge painters a 50% commission.Â If the prices on the works are high enough, both you and the gallery will make a sufficient profit.Â If your frames are inordinately expensive, perhaps the gallery will split the cost of these with you, but don’t count on it.Â Galleries have enough overhead as it is; better to simply figure the cost of the frame into the price of the painting, and make your profit after.
Why do I charge only 40% for steel, glass and ceramic sculpture?Â Because expenses for these artists are far greater than for painters; I feel it would be unfair to charge them the same commission.Â Some galleries agree with this,Â most do not.Â Â In fact mostÂ charge a straight 50% to all their artists, regardless of medium or studio expenses.Â I wish I could do this, but in good conscience I cannot.Â Â Â
My reasons for charging a 33% commission on bronzes are, again, based on the artist’s expenses, since expenses are extremely high for bronze sculptors, due to the cost of mold-making andÂ casting.Â I can’t ignore this condition, and so simply decided to work with it.Â Therefore, the formula we employ in determining the retail price of a bronze is simply to multiply casting fees by three.Â Thus if a bronze costs $1000 to cast, I sell it for $3000, plus $200 for the marble base, bringing the total to $3200.Â After selling the piece I retain $1000, and the artist gets $2200, $1200 of which will go into casting and basing the next piece.
The percentages work differently with commissioned, one-of-a-kind pieces, which I will discuss in Chapter Seven of the book.Â I can blog about that another time.Â But for now, this discussion of the consignment process and commission percentages should, I hope, prove enlightening.