Sunday, 15 January 2017


I recently responded to a post on one of the forums I regularly visit - someone said they were "scared" to approach galleries with their work, for fear of being told that even tho their work was well-crafted, it did not have enough "artistic merit".

It is not the first time I have heard this............and I remember well my very first visit to a gallery, to ask them to look at my work.... I was shaking in my boots!  So I do have lots of sympathy for those of you itching to try but nervous to do so.

Many years down the line, I take a rather more pragmatic view of gallery owners, having met them in all their different guises.  I have met those who are helpful, enthusiastic, committed, and appreciative;  I have met those who have a sense of entitlement, who are snooty, who are rude, and who treat their artists like fodder.   I warn you - there are all sorts out there!

It is really important to remember that gallery owners are, first and foremost, BUSINESS PEOPLE, with gallery bills to pay.  They have to always remember this, and also keep their eyes firmly on the potential for profit.  They are not philanthropists, they cannot afford to be.

AND it is vital to remember that more often than not, a gallery owner's idea of "artistic merit" is coloured by this need to pay the bills.     And anyway - how to judge artistic merit?  Who is the arbiter?   Personal taste plays a part, this is inevitable.  For every person who does not like or appreciate your work, there is another who will think it is just great!   So rejection should not be taken too personally, no matter how unpleasant it feels at the time.  

Even if you are accepted, you may find yourself "flavour of the month" if your work sells well....and very much out of favour if it does not.  A pleasant gallery owner will not hold lack of sales against you, and perhaps will even thank you for allowing them the privilege of showing your work  !   And so they should.  

Why do I say this?  with emphasis?

OK getting up on my soapbox now. 

An art gallery is a retail businesses where the gallery owner receives stock on a sale or return basis.  Every other retail business that I can think of has to pay for their stock....and if it remains unsold, they have to have a sale, or have to find some way of disposing of the stock at a loss.  The large mark-up from "wholesale" to "retail" prices takes this into account.

Art, for some odd reason, does not fall into this latter category - we artists are expected to allow galleries to take our work on a sale or return basis, and be grateful for the opportunity.  I firmly believe that galleries should be the grateful ones! 

As I said earlier, there are wonderful gallery owners out there who really do understand and appreciate their artists, and help to promote them.  I am lucky enough to have found a few and I enjoy working with them and am happy to send them my work, and grateful to them too. 

So next time you think about approaching a gallery with your work, be professional, be pleasant, and remember some of the above.  No grovelling allowed!!!!   Let go of the owners are just tradespeople.  YOU are the creative one, the one without whom, galleries would have nothing to sell.

January Sale Offering
Both of these images are GLASS ON GLASS.  They are created with black glass powder, onto a soft-white glass ground.  They are 12" square, and can be displayed as they are on an easel, or on a black wrought-iron stand, or on the wall with stainless steel stand-offs, which looks really contemporary.

Usually £175 each, I am offering them at a January sale price of just £90 each!



  1. Interesting to hear your perspective. As Gallery owners we do have to choose carefully what works to take, often even if we like something ourselves we might have to choose not to take it... and of course vice versa!

    In regards to Sale or Return I see this very much as a mutually beneficial arrangement no better or worse for Artist or Gallery Owner. In an ideal wolrd I'd like to take everything at wholesale. In our Gallery we take half wholesale (we pay up front) and half Sale or Return. For a Gallery there are negative aspects to SOR as well as positives.

    Sale or return generates more paperwork, more admin and management time and often more legwork. SOR for most galleries also has a smaller margin. Sadly We could never turn over to being 100% wholesale as we could be left with unsold work for decades.

    It is indeed a shame when someones work isn't sold, always a difficult situation but often it's more about the gallery and their customers than the artwork.. something we try to explain with honesty to an artist. If your work doesn't sell at a Gallery or Shop try somewhere different!

    As a Gallery we also choose to never offer a sale. We encourage Artists to set a fair retail price and (often that will mean encouraging artists to increase their price, not because we want everything to be expensive but we believe an artist should earn more than a shelf stacker)

    Putting a piece of art or craft on sale for us sends out all the wrong messages, a piece of art is worth what the artist and the beholder of the work believes its worth to be. No less. It's not piece of mass produced Chinese plastic. It's an object produced with passion, love and care.

  2. Jolly nice comment from a sympathetic and thoughtful gallery owner. I wish more gallery owners were like you! I am not so sure about the "smaller margin" since some of the galleries I have dealt with often take as much as 60% of the selling price - I would be very surprised if a gallery charges even more if they have purchased the piece. I agree too about the idea that sales can send out wrong messages, but many artists do, these days, have "clear-out" sessions of their work on the basis that perhaps someone might not have been able to afford the original price but would happily pay somewhat less - I see these "sales" on Facebook pages quite often. I think it is a good idea and helpful for both artist and buyer. thank you for your comment.


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