A Hypothetical Question

What would you do if this happened to you?

A gallery stocks your work. You have a great relationship, and you're involved in other aspects of the gallery as well. But they're unsuccessful in selling your work, not because they're not trying, and not because your work doesn't suit the gallery's target market.

So the gallery approaches you with an idea: over the winter months their receptionist will wear your work, with a wee sign in the reception saying, "(receptionist) dressed by (you)", and maybe set up a way folks can order pieces. My questions are:

1) What would you do with the samples she wore after winter? Would you sell it as per usual, at a discount. or from a different venue, such as Etsy?

2) Say the winter lasts about three months, how many would you prepare?

3) If people contact you directly, would you ask where they found out about you, and if it's through this gallery, would you pay the gallery regular or reduced commission?

4) What if a sample is lost or damaged? With this gallery, artists must get insurance if we want to protect our work while they are in the shop.

5) What else would you consider?


Barbara said...

my first question is why are your pieces not selling if they are trying to sell them and the pieces fit the galleries target?

Where is the block to the sale?

I'm not sure that I agree that seeing a sample actually on a person would make a difference.

Meg said...

By "my stuff suits the target market", I'm referring to a general feel and price range of the previous gallery manager. So, about 2 years ago.

The economy has certain hit the art market badly in Nelson, particularly the low end. Many (most) of my friends have tried to get paying jobs, some successfully.

Having said that, in Nelson, paintings, jewelry and ceramics seem to do better, but that's just my observation, not scientific study.

Weaving has a perception of the 70's/80's hippie craft, and it's hard to fetch a reasonably price, and I'm on the expensive end, though with this gallery, I have less expensive stuff.

The gallery management changed recently, (though it's longer than I had realized) and the new manager/receptionist is bringing in a lot of new changes.

We are a small town of about 50K population in the city, about twice that in the greater region, and we rely heavily on the tourism traffic. I think the numbers have dropped a bit, but again, I can't be certain.

We have the Rugby World Cup coming later in the year, and Nelson hosts the Italian team, and for a small provincial town, we are lucky we are hosting three games. Many New Zealanders are placing a lot of hope on massive increase in tourist dropping massive amounts money.

I think in the end it's my prices are higher than what people expect of handwoven items, and elsewhere in town it is possible to buy less expensive work. Though I insist not the same quality of material, for one - and if you feel and compare that's so evident.

Beyond that, I don't know.

Also, the gallery manager is the husband of the receptionist, who happens to be very enthusiastic about what I make and bought one in one instance as soon as I brought it into the gallery.

I must stop this blather, Barbara.

Dianne said...

How is the work being displayed in the gallery? Is at least one piece on display to make it look special or are they stacked on a shelf. I often supply a black velvet neck (usually for jewelry) which a scarf will knot around nicely. I might say I really get p'd off when I find it being used for other work than my own.
I do think to have someone wear your work will turn it into a secondhand item.
As for being contacted directly that's a grey area. If you don't ask and they don't tell .. well ...
Years ago a customer thought they were bypassing the gallery commission by coming direct to me but the gallery had already rung and spoken to me about it - not a pretty picture. The gallery obviously still supports you and you respect them so I would say at least the first sale should include commission.
As you say very difficult selling textiles in this climate. I would think about display, enthusiasm for product and respect for it.
Just some thoughts to confuse you.
(When's the Etsy shop opening?)

Meg said...

Display - yes, it was in a very visible position in the shop, but was hung flat, so the new receptionist thought people might have thought they were wall-hangings. She dug up a lovely wiry (but not snaggy) bust and one piece is wrapped around that in a good position.

This is why I appreciate her effort so much. She has ideas and then puts them in action and then asks me if I approve. Everything above board.

And in this shop, I have very little competition in terms of other textile items.

Etsy shop. Ah yes. I have nothing left at home, except two huge pieces, after Handmade for Christchurch. So that's at the back of the back burner for now. :-<

Cate Rose said...

I came to the conclusion when I was weaving that people didn't value a wearable as they would a painting or ceramics piece. And largely because you can get reasonably-nice looking imported handwoven things at WalMart!

I don't know what to tell you re: your hypotheticals -- perhaps you could suggest the gallery purchase one of your items at wholesale so the receptionist can wear it. Then you don't have to deal with afterwards.

Good luck with it all.

Meg said...

I totally agree with you on your first and second points. I thought of your third point. I'm ambivalent about the whole thing, but then the gallery manager was thinking out loud, and just asked me to see if it would work. I felt I didn't want to waste a good gesture/will, but though I'd have to do quite a bit of thinking about it.

So, no conclusion as yet. I've got too much backlog of work, and don't really want to engage in it at the moment.