Be Smart About Art

How to make a gallerist love you

written by: Susan Mumford April 15, 2018 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 1078 views

How to make a gallerist love you

I was recently telling an artist about what made for a dream artist back in my gallerist days. The thing is, as much as you might love someone’s creations, if there’s going to be a professional partnership, it’s equally important that the working relationship is the right fit. As we’ve said in many BSAA talks, experienced artists and dealers assign equal importance to the creative match as the person match. Otherwise, you risk investing time, energy and money in a professional relationship that will ultimately fail.

As for that dream artist… Back in my gallery days, I had confirmed a solo exhibition with a painter, as I had done many times prior. After I’d made visit to the studio and selected works to display, she emailed a consignment note for those confirmed works. And oh. my. goodness. What she sent was a DREAM!

The artist had supplied a document that provided key details for each work of art (title, year, medium, size, price, cost of frame and her own reference number - noting that all were originals, so edition was not applicable). Better yet, each row of the consignment note included a reference thumbnail image. The email also included jpg images of each work of art for our promotional use. Happy days!

As she’d provided all art work information and professional quality images, this meant that the gallery team could get to promotional activities much faster. Had the thumbnail images not been supplied, we would have spent time working out which item corresponded to what work of art. And if other details hadn’t been provided, we would have pulled out the tape measure to capture dimensions. It goes on and on, from working out the medium to year made. This isn’t even to mention the time it takes to take professional-quality images of works of art.

This seemingly simple piece of admin completed by the artist shaved off hours of the gallery team’s time. Not only that, we were able to use those crucial hours to play to our strengths, by promoting the exhibition.

The experience made me realise how much time we’d previously doing something that, while perhaps not the artist’s favourite activity, was much better done by the maker. That individual will already know some of what’s needed (such as medium, year and often the size, as no-brainers), and will easily be able to provide other details.

The experience of working with that artist was so delightful that we continued a long-term collaboration. Better yet, it prompted me to invest more into the relationship, as I wanted to make it work. The result? The relationship was delightful and profitable, and as the years have passed, we’ve continued to know and work with one another.

When it comes to collaborating with other professionals, how can you play to your strengths and make the other person (or people) want to work with you all the more? 

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 *Quotation taken from 'Is it your job to create jobs?' in Inc., by Leigh Buchanan. Publication date March / April 2018. 

**Related blog post: 'Want your personal data to be safe?' by Susan J Mumford.

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user name

Puts me in mind of advice given by Neil Gaiman in an essay I found in "View from the Cheapseats" - the advice comprised three attributes of which possession of any two together could work, if you were really amazing, but for anyone in the middle or working against steep competition you'd need all three ... and the attributes are:

1. Outstanding Work
2. Delivered On / Before Time
3. Be a Pleasure to Work With

Ie: if you had numbers 1 and 3, you'd be able to get away with 2 (think Douglas Adams writers block!) but if you only had number 2 you'd be lost. He was talking publishing, but I think it applies to everything ;)

user name

Excellent post, Susan! I am going to share that with potential artists in the future and see which ones rise to the challenge.