Mailing-list etiquette

Dear Artist, Last week Shirley Peters of Putney, NSW, Australia wrote, “My show is happening at the moment. My dilemma is that the gallery owner is using the email addresses I gave him to send invites for his next show. He is spamming my friends. I like the guy, and I don’t want to cause any ill feelings, but is this a fair thing to do? Should I say something?”

“The Fixer”
watercolour on 200gsm Canson watercolor paper, 9 x 12 inches
by Shirley Peters

Thanks, Shirley. For those wanting to protect their mailing lists, the standard procedure is to ask the gallery to supply you with invitations so you can mail them yourself. If the invitations are online, you need to get the gallery’s permission to copy and then send them out on your own. These days many galleries are grabbing everything they can to get folks coming in the door. In your case his argument would be that it works both ways — you help him contact further collectors, and the gallery’s ever-growing mailing list from all sources also helps you. Their additional problem might be that many artists these days are using galleries as “showrooms” for their work, and selling directly or through other galleries after the gallery has given the “prestige” of a show or regular exposure. In some ways you can’t blame these businesses for grabbing what they can.

“Talk to me now: The Rocks Sydney”
oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches
by Shirley Peters

Fact is that the whole painter-dealer relationship is in a state of flux. While business in most places is currently quite good, observers from the outside often remark that high dealer commissions cannot be sustained. Real estate or auto sales could not, for example, sustain 50% commissions. The art market would indeed be a lot more fluid and friendly if commissions were lower. Many top painters these days have seen the writing on the wall and are selling directly where there’s no commission at all. Carefully managed personal artists’ websites are aiding this trend. In spite of the current high cost of dealing with galleries, I’m a believer in empowering galleries through my own website. I sell nothing but connectivity to my galleries on my website, and I don’t ask for email or other addresses. I have enough trouble with my painting.

“Heritage Flight”
oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches
by Shirley Peters

Best regards, Robert PS: “My dealers are the best of people. They earn every dollar of their commissions as they are in full partnership with their artists. I can sit in my studio and do nothing but paint.” (Harley Brown) Esoterica: These days many vest-pocket dealers and art consultants are doing a good job. With their low overhead they can be expected to work for lower commissions. They also seem to have their own connections, often among people who seldom go into commercial galleries. Many collectors these days don’t want it to be public knowledge that they’re building collections, and don’t want to be on any mailing lists. In my experience, great collections are built by friendships, no matter what agent, gallery or artist the collector is dealing with. In your gallery in NSW, your dealer is just trying to turn your friends into his friends.   Nuances of spamming by Thaw Malin, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, USA  

“Quansoo Opening”
oil on canvas panel, 30 x 40 inches
by Thaw Malin

In regard to Shirley Peters in Australia, her gallery is indeed spamming her email list. If the gallery does not have her friends/clients opt in to his gallery newsletter, email blast, it is spamming the recipients. The gallery may do it once for Shirley’s show, but not for any other without the recipients’ permission to be added onto the daily/weekly/monthly email blast. In the US, I send out email blasts almost every day for my daily paintings. I had to agree with both GoDaddy, when I used them, and my current ISP that I would not send any email to anyone who had not asked to be added on my list. They could ask me in person, by email, or sign up to my list, but they HAD to ask. If not, both ISP’s said they would drop me like a hot potato because then I would officially be a spammer. There are 3 comments for Nuances of spamming by Thaw Malin
From: Ellen Armstrong — Jul 30, 2013

Beautiful painting!

From: Douglas Newman — Jul 30, 2013

Lovely painting. It puts me right there with your sensitive use of light and understatement.

From: andre satie — Jul 30, 2013

Delicious painting!

  No comparison by Marion Evamy, Victoria, BC, Canada  

acrylic on canvas
by Marion Evamy

Just a quick comment on the “observation” that galleries have a “high commission” structure that ‘real estate or auto sales could not sustain.’ As a gallery owner and full time artist, the overhead and cost of having a brick-and-mortar operation is in a totally different ball park than either of the aforementioned “sales jobs.” Just keeping the doors open means that each of the 15 artists in my gallery must have sales of a minimum of $10,000 of work per year, at 50% commission, in order to have their work hanging in a place where buyers and collectors can find them and examine and appreciate the real thing. Not to mention the marketing that takes place on their behalf while they are hard at work in their studios. The artists in our gallery actually benefit because we introduce them to their new collectors — something they would likely not have attained on their own! In real estate sales (which I also was involved in) the commission structure was much lower, but the pay cheque much fatter! The average real estate deal pays out a whopping $19,000 (at 6% on the first 100k and 3% on the balance). How many works of art have to walk out of the door in an average gallery to pay that kind of commission? With most works in our gallery selling in the range of $1000 – $3000, it would take the sale of 38 works of art, averaged at $2000 a painting, for the gallery to garner the same average commission as on one real estate deal. As for auto sales, again it is a matter of quantity purchasing, and a standard product. Far more competition and an infinitely higher number of “supporters” of automobile dealerships, mean the commission structure is not as high, because they have sheer volume to benefit from! There are 3 comments for No comparison by Marion Evamy
From: Don — Jul 30, 2013

So, you’re suggesting that auto dealers don’t have high marketing costs, building expenses and employee costs that compare with galleries? You’re right, they are substantially higher. The real difference is that auto sales know they have to sell volume and real estate sell at huge prices, so the small percentage is sufficient. The gallery’s problem may be either work priced too low or not selling enough volume. Perhaps galleries are now outmoded form of retailing if the owners can’t brand their gallery properly.

From: Patricia Warren — Jul 30, 2013

Magnus has soul in his eyes.

From: Yossi — Jul 30, 2013

Thank you for sharing your business information, that was very generous of you. If I may offer a comment, I would say that your expectation for all 15 artists to sell a minimum of $10,000 per year surprised me. My first thought was that this plan lacks diversification. Having a substantial number of emerging artists with occasional sales would go a long way towards paying bills. I am a beginner and sell about $5000 dollars per gallery (in 4 galleries), and was often told by owners that my sale came at a good time for them. This obviously requires more work from them, but appears to be a long term strategy. I make sure to be easy going and not have any unnecessary demands. This is working well so far and only one gallery has dumped me (and bunch of others) because we didn’t make the expected numbers. I know several extremely successful artists who are still with their original galleries that they joined many years ago. There aren’t many of those still around, but I reckon they are still in business because the risks they took long time ago are now paying back.

  Legitimate email services by Jim Oberst, Hot Springs Village, AR, USA  

“Big Cat”
watercolour, 11 x 15 inches
by Jim Oberst

I’m an artist who sells artwork mostly online. It’s hard work to collect email addresses of people who are actually interested in your art and/or art activities and want to receive your mailings. Since I also teach watercolor painting, my email list includes both artists and potential collectors. We all are tired of email spam, and are reluctant to hand out our email address. Therefore I promise my subscribers that I will never share their email address with anyone else. That includes galleries, of course. And if one uses a legitimate email delivery service — I use MailChimp — the service itself provides a simple unsubscribe method, and takes action if anyone reports your email as spam, since they must maintain a stellar reputation to be able to stay in business. There are 2 comments for Legitimate email services by Jim Oberst
From: Michael McDevitt — Jul 29, 2013

This is such a fun image! I always appreciate the “delicate” line work in rigging (after I get past the first engagement with the composition).

From: Jim Oberst — Jul 30, 2013

Thanks, Michael. I love painting boats, partially because the rigging is fun to do and adds a lot of interest to the painting.

  Thoughtfulness and caring by Stede Barber, Los Alamos, NM, USA  

“Breaking Trail”
oil painting, 9 x 12 inches
by Stede Barber

When someone joins my mailing list, I have told them that I will never share their mailing address; they will never be spammed. The cat is already out of the bag with the situation you describe, but it points to thinking through how to invite your mailing list to events sponsored by another… and leads me to think of ways that could work for all parties. As an artist, I can send a newsletter including the invitation and a link to the gallery. I can address and mail myself invitations supplied by the gallery. I can send e-mail invitations… including the galleries, with their permission as mentioned. I can also send postcards. Then, once “my” people are at the show, if they love the gallery and want to, they can sign the guest book and be included in the gallery’s mailing list. When I sign up for someone’s email list, and “suddenly” start getting email from someone I don’t know, no matter how the connection makes sense to the original person I signed up with, it doesn’t sit well with me and usually gets deleted… that’s not a win-win for anyone! Thoughtfulness and caring for all involved can create a great solution… and yes, that does take time. But… aren’t our beautiful art careers, clients, and business partners worth it?   Press your advantages by Todd Norgaard, Pacific Grove, CA, USA  

“Valley Afternoon”
acrylic painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Todd Norgaard

As a former adman, working to become a painter, I’m sorry that you (Miss Peters) didn’t anticipate this problem. But now that you are where you are, look at the positives: a stronger relationship with your gallery, your customers now associating you with that gallery, future p.r. opportunities with the gallery await your positive response. Press your advantages. Build a stronger relationship with your gallery as a cooperative painter. Who is going to sell your paintings in the future? Help your gallery any way you can to sell all of the artists they represent. Nobody has to buy art. There is 1 comment for Press your advantages by Todd Norgaard
From: Diane Overmyer — Jul 30, 2013

Great possitive feedback that can be applied to anyone working with a gallery. It also looks like you are well on your way as a painter!

  Spamming regulations by Pat Zalisko, Fort Myers, FL, USA  

original painting
by Pat Zalisko

Robert, your letter failed to mention a US federal law that governs how email solicitations can be sent. The reader who wrote that her gallery was spamming her contacts may very well have been done something more serious. Here’s a layman’s newsletter published by the US Federal Trade Commission’s circular in plain English: CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business. And another interesting article on anti-spamming laws, again in plain English: CAN-SPAM Requirements Apparently, Canada has a similar law, and many countries, like the UK and Australia, have SPAM prohibitions, too. Spamming is punishable under the American law by significant monetary penalties and there are instances where both the artists and entity issuing the SPAM can be held responsible. There is 1 comment for Spamming regulations by Pat Zalisko
From: Pat — Jul 30, 2013

Beautiful painting. Soft colours and dreamy mood.

  The co-op gallery solution by Nancy Tankersley, Easton, MD, USA  

“Contemporary Impressionist”
original oil painting
by Nancy Tankersley

You are so right that galleries are in a state of flux. As an artist and gallery owner, I have seen both sides and I think the galleries are losing. With the explosion of non-profits running major art events, including plein air competitions and art fairs connected to a “cause,” not to mention the Internet, it’s no wonder that galleries are closing at a record rate. I can’t imagine galleries surviving at all with less than at least 40% commissions. 50% at least gives a small profit. We’ve solved our dilemma about how to stay open in this increasingly competitive climate by turning our gallery into a co-op where the artists do their own marketing, sit the gallery, and only pay 10% commission which goes back into co-op expenses and advertising. The artists pay a monthly fee which covers the rent/mortgage and utilities. With this situation, the artists have a showroom (still important), a beautiful place to hold receptions, and the possibility of increasing their earnings by keeping 90% of the sale. The artists who do the work are flourishing; those who sit back and just wait for customers to walk through the door are finding it rough going. It’s been an eye opener for these artists to see how much work and money goes into marketing each show and just keeping the doors open, and how much time is spent on reaching out to collectors through notes, e-mails, newsletters, etc. We’ve been a co-op for 14 months so far and have lost two members who we have replaced without much difficulty. We make sure that all members are at a fairly equal place in their careers in that they are established artists with experience in being in galleries and with a strong collector base. There are 3 comments for The co-op gallery solution by Nancy Tankersley
From: Douglas Newman — Jul 30, 2013

Wonderful use of light. I love this!

From: Darrell Baschak — Jul 30, 2013

A very lovely painting Nancy.

From: PKW — Jul 30, 2013

Yes! It’s the light and shadow perfection. I love it!

  The little town that could by Marjorie Tressler, Waynesboro, PA, USA  

original painting
by Marjorie Tressler

Here in Waynesboro we have just opened 7 galleries in 6 weeks transforming our dying down town into one big art show. We are calling it “Destination Arts!” We asked the landlords of these vacant building into giving us rent free, for at least 3 months. And they agreed! In return we cleaned up and spot painted and transformed these vacant store front buildings that used to be regular stores such as woman boutiques, men’s stores, children’s shops and even a former Western Auto, into beautiful art galleries with art from all around the region. We have some of the best artists in the region and art from as far away as California and New York City. I am the lead curator and have put in more than 60 hours a week and have acquired from over 70 artists/artisans over 800 items for this show. We have a gallery just for photography and pottery, ceramic arts, weaving (textiles) and ceramic sculpture, as well as a fine arts gallery with sculpture and one designated to modern abstract art. Plus, we have other store fronts with art on easels up and down 2 blocks either way of our town square. It has been a community effort and when we started it I said it would take a village and it has! Our little town of 10,000 plus people produced sidewalks filled with smiling visitors going from gallery to gallery with receptions in each gallery. We are planning our second phase as I write this by installing new art for September, October. There are 2 comments for The little town that could by Marjorie Tressler
From: Jim Oberst — Jul 30, 2013

Sounds terrific! Good luck.

From: Kevin — Jul 30, 2013

Wonderful! I always thought that art required a special atmosphere and community support, and not just a couple of demure commercial spaces fighting for survival and complaining of economy. You are setting a great example and returns will follow on many levels.

  Daring to sell by Elisa Choi, Paco, Manila, Philippines  

“Save the Forest”
watercolour painting
by Elisa Choi

I just finished my second painting for selling and after calculating the pricing my inner thoughts said something like this: Do you call yourself a professional painter? You don’t have a gallery that represents your works. No one knows you except your Facebook friends and some acquaintances. You’re not famous. Do you have a consistent style? Is it even right to put a price on your paintings? I can’t help but think if I have the right to do all these just because I am not a professional. Like I am not good enough. Do I have to be what other painters are already? — professional? (RG note) Thanks, Elisa. Art is one of the few vocations where beginners are free to offer their wares. If you were a plumber or a computer technician, or even a doctor, and you didn’t know what you were doing, you wouldn’t last long. A precious few painters are great right out of the gate. You might be one of them. A much greater number figure it out as they go. Every pro was once an amateur.   Offensive person in the society by Maryann Nomann, Winfield, AB, Canada   In our art society, a wonderful person and really good artist, who has accumulated quite a following of collectors and does a lot as secretary and so much more to try to promote us and help us all, has been subjected to outright hostility from another member. This person gives verbal abuse and throws things at her and our president, etc. It is getting progressively worse. I can’t stand it. What should I do? (RG note) Thanks, Maryann. You might join or start another society, or you might quit using societies altogether. Alternately, you could not go to meetings and just submit your art to the society’s shows. You could buy an ad in the local paper and tell everyone in town that this person is offensive. You could get stuff ready and the next time throw it back at her or him — all the while making a short, memorable video of the event to put on YouTube. Alternately you could allow that these shenanigans are just comic relief, and have a good laugh. Life is too short to take this sort of stuff seriously. There are 5 comments for Offensive person in the society by Maryann Nomann
From: Anonymous — Jul 30, 2013

You all allowed a respected colleague to have something thrown at her and did not intervene?? Isn’t the answer obvious? Collect your officers plus a couple more, confront the offensive person and tell him/her membership is hereby terminated. There is no second chance for poison like that. If you don’t have protocols in place the next meeting, they should be established. Life is too short for such nonsense, and it isn’t funny.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jul 30, 2013

Sometimes mental illness presents as uncalled for rudeness and violence…my sister and brother in law have malevolent neighbors, who delight in doing them and others wrong…they have been to court, etc. yet no one can stop them. I think you may be dealing with someone who is mentally ill, with a personality disorder, or perhaps has a brain disease that can be identified by professionals. Meanwhile, the society could step in and draft a letter to the person, an informal cease and desist that documents events. Maybe there is recourse in talking to a relative, or keeping track of events that would build a case for a real restraining order…it would probably be difficult to video these spontaneous events. This is an awful and hurtful situation in an arena where it is uncalled for.

From: Suzette Fram — Jul 30, 2013

“…You could buy an ad in the local paper and tell everyone in town that this person is offensive. You could get stuff ready and the next time throw it back at her or him–all the while making a short, memorable video of the event to put on YouTube…” Robert, I know your answer is in jest, but really, talk about bad advice. Clearly this person has to be stopped from ruining what is probably a very nice society of artists. Why should one person be allowed to ruin things for everyone else. Clearly, the executive of the society need to advise her that her membership will be cancelled if she does not stop that kind of behaviour. Aggressiveness and abuse cannot be tolerated.

From: Ann — Jul 30, 2013

If you are the only one there who deems this unacceptable, do yourself a huge favor and leave the society as quick as you can and don’t give the thing another thought. If the behavior is escalating towards criminal, call the police. Join some other art organization, there are many around.

From: Christian Housser — Jul 30, 2013

More evidence of the problems that happen when you get mixed up in clubs.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Mailing-list etiquette

From: marj vetter — Jul 25, 2013

Dealers need all the help they can get, but the dealers who won’t tell the artist who bought their paintings, are to my mine not to be trusted with your list. Enjoyed the Harley Brown quote, many of my artist friends have been painting buddies of his.

From: John Ferrie — Jul 25, 2013

Dear Robert, I guess I would fall into that category of “Carefully managed personal artists’ websites”. I didn’t do it because I had a falling out with a gallery. This is how I started out in this business over 25 years ago. When you don’t have a gallery representing you, you do what you can, make your own lists and market and promote the hell out of yourself. But this is often the “pipe dreams” of what being signed by a gallery is all about. Artists continue to believe that once you are signed by a gallery, the contract for fame and fortune kicks in. 90% of the money is made by 10% of the artists. I hear this a lot with fellow artists friends of mine who have exhibitions with a gallery. The FIRST thing a gallery wants from an artist is they’re mailing list. This happens BEFORE they get the art. Artists tell me that while their sales may have been good at their last show, it was their clientele who bought all the works. With the rents in Vancouver sky rocketing, galleries need to make sales. I always find it interesting how galleries set prices “Oh, New York wants this artist” they say…or “you better get this now as the artist is about to explode in the American Art market”…and finally, my persona favourite, “his cancer is no longer in remission, the time to buy is NOW!”. How pathetic! People should by what they love. And if that is done by a street artist in Santorini or a BIG Gun gallery in New York, it shouldn’t matter what is cost, what matters is if they love it. And yet, we continue to perpetuate to young artists that getting with a gallery is the ONLY way. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

From: Mike Barr — Jul 26, 2013

Often, it is a one-way street with lists and galleries. They want your list but they don’t divulge who bought your works. Your list becomes part of theirs and they didn’t have to work for it! Artist’s mailing list rarely come from galleries – if at all. They are hard-won contacts made by the artist and galleries almost demand your list if you show with them. I fell for that at first but no more. The days have gone where artists of lesser station than the very best can have representation at a bundle of galleries. Galleries just don’t exist in the same numbers for this to happen unless you are at the very top and in demand. I think most artists would agree that web sales are pretty much in the realm of under $1000 or more realistically, under $500!

From: Jackie Knott — Jul 26, 2013

Once again, the onus is on the artist and not the gallery? It appears the gallery owner used the artist’s email address list as a commodity to be exploited because its potential was as marketable as selling her work. I guard my email addresses zealously and never give them out to anyone without asking their permission. Privacy is harder to keep these days than ever and I cherish mine. I’ve farmed email addresses before but they were from public websites. If asked to remove them from my mailing list, I did. I will not lift a personal contact without asking. We all would like to see more integrity within the art world and normally the sharks self eliminate. Some persist skirting ethics. Example, the oddest experience I’ve ever had in a gallery: we were in PA last month and wandered in a gallery. Out of the 150 paintings none had prices. We were forced to ask. The owner looked us up and down and quoted a price. Granted this was a tourist area but I had the distinct feeling if we were dressed more in our vacation grubbies we would have been quoted hundreds and not thousands. That man could not possibly have all those prices memorized and neither did he reference any list. I hoped I was mistaken and watched. Two more couples came in, “dressed down” as vacationers are want to do. They were given the same head-to-toe evaluation and were quoted hundreds – same artist, similar subject matter and quality, similar size and frame. We left and I came to the conclusion the artists had predetermined prices but the gallery owner threw out whatever he thought the market could bear. Had we bought the painting I have no doubt that artist got his meager portion and the gallery pocketed the rest. He proudly told us he had been in business twenty-three years. It makes me wonder how long the artists were able to persist with that arrangement.

From: Suzette Fram — Jul 26, 2013

The gallery has taken over her mailing list and it’s unethical to do so without prior agreement. High costs and business problems are only excuses. Once the show is over, I think she should insist on him removing her list members from his list. He may not do it, but at least she will have made the point to him that what he did was unacceptable. She could also email her list and explain what happened, so that they can request to be taken off the gallery’s list for the future. One of the things that is important when people sign up for a list, is to know that their name will not be passed on or sold to third parties. This gallery owner has harmed her credibility and reputation. And this should be a lesson to her, never to let someone else have her list.

From: Dwight — Jul 26, 2013

Robert’s answer is somewhat correct, if you feel you must deal with galleries. Make your own invitation for your exhibit and email that to your own list. Any gallery that steals a list like this is purely dishonest, even if there is no agreement either way. I don’t deal with galleries any more for several reasons. The judgement of John Ferry (above) is right, I think, and he has said more about this elsewhere. I’m 80 and have been at this for 50+ years. Galleries were good once but for anyone younger than me I’m sure the various internet avenues are the current sales answer.

From: Sharon Cory — Jul 26, 2013

I agree with Mike Barr and John Ferrie that the age of galleries being the direct link to the art-appreciative public, is long gone. Checking out the website has replaced visiting the galleries. I find that, even clients that I’ve dealt with for years, are calling me with questions about something they saw on the website. I open my studio one day a week for anyone wanting to see something in person and this system is working well for me. I’ve been out of the gallery loop for years and these days there’s less and less reason to try and get back in. Sharon Cory Winnipeg

From: Nick Dewdney — Jul 26, 2013

You mentioned real estate and autos–but another area that’s going through rationalization right now is stock investments. Stock salespeople (brokers) have traditionally maintained cushy paneled offices and commissions from both the companies they’re selling and the investors who buy them. Nowadays advice is online or by inexpensive subscription and online brokerage (buying and selling of stock) operates for a fraction of the cost of paneled offices. Inasmuch as art is an investment, it would be a lot better investment if commissions were lower.

From: Dana — Jul 26, 2013

Nick’s entry is interesting. I think that the parallel between galleries and stock brokers is valid. In both cases, only those that make big money out of it remain dedicated to the old concept. Everyone else will move to the readily available DYI approach. It may end up a good thing for all involved. Those that fail on both fronts will hopefully move on to something else.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Jul 26, 2013

I don’t have a list of collectors because I don’t sell directly and galleries don’t give me buyer’s information. People who show interest in my art receive one annual greeting/update from me. Few times galleries asked all represented artists to forward their invitations to “our lists” and asked for ideas how to increase sales. My view is that being partners in business, each partner should be an expert in their own field. Not that either party wouldn’t be able to offer a useful advice, but why introduce confusion? We need to focus on our own mastery and not worry what the other side is doing. This is my strategy, but I know that many artists are also superb sales experts and they may actively participate in gallery business efforts, or successfully do it all by themselves. Some dealers also make art!

From: Darlene — Jul 26, 2013

In my experience, the sharing does go both ways.

From: Jonathan Foster-Pedley — Jul 26, 2013

I’ve been reading your newsletter for some years. It’s the only one I read and keep. Great work, thanks so much.

From: Casey Craig — Jul 26, 2013

I just had a show with one of my galleries earlier this year and this is how I handled this situation. My gallery had requested a list of my contacts for them to contact OR they were happy to supply me with postcards and email announcements that I would send out myself, whichever I preferred. I explained that whenever someone signs up for my mailing list whether it be email or physical mail that I assure them that I will never sell or share their information and that is actually stated upfront. The gallery understands that this would be a horrible breach of trust if I broke this promise as they have probably made the same promise to their subscribers.

From: Jennifer Kelly — Jul 26, 2013
From: Greg Pettengill — Jul 26, 2013

While I enjoyed reading this one as I always do, I think I must be misunderstanding what you are saying! “While business in most places is currently quite good,” When you say “business”, are you limiting it to just the Art business? If so, then I will take your word for it without any reservations.

From: Diane Overmyer — Jul 26, 2013

I view my mailing list as one of the most valuable assets that I have in my business. I never have given out contact information of anyone who has signed up for my newsletters. I let people know that this is a policy that I will always stick to. As this has already happened with you, don’t make a big fuss about it. Your real collectors probably get mail often from all sorts of art galleries. Seeing your gallery’s name might entice them to revisit the gallery and end in a purchase of one of your paintings. Frequently when there are featured artists, galleries will still sell from their stable of artists even during opening receptions for the featured artist. To me, featuring one artist’s work is great for that artist, but it benefits the entire gallery, because it gets clients in the door! That is the key here, it is much better to have your gallery using your addresses then doing nothing at all, and just waiting for clients to come to them!

From: Laurel Weathersbee — Jul 26, 2013

Seems like this is the kind of thing that should have been discussed at the time emails were given to the gallery. It doesn’t seem fair to blame gallery management if the artist doesn’t state limited use for the emails. If it were my show, I’d probably WANT to email my own group with a personal note…

From: Barbara MacInnes — Jul 26, 2013
From: Margaret Coxall — Jul 26, 2013

Thank you for your last letter. My students and I are always trying to negotiate the path between intuitive and planned approach. For myself I play both sides, setting up a planned intuitive approach (colour, composition ) then see what happens. It is always fun but can be challenging for those new to the art adventure.

From: Denise Bezanson — Jul 26, 2013

Unfortunately Shirley trusted her gallery and gave him her mailing list. Lesson learned, she should have put parameters on that trust, and said “only use this list this one time”. Or as you said, copied his invitation and done her own mail out. As an art dealer I once replied to an email sent by an artist’s contact and then (as the client’s email gets automatically added to my mailing list) emailed his client with an upcoming show. However, the contact let the artist know and he mentioned it to me, so I deleted it. It’s not in my best interest to have any friction between my artists and me, and it was unintentional to “take” his contact (someone he’d been doing business with for about 20 years and is loyal to him). It’s good karma not to poach others clients.

From: Alain Tourre — Jul 26, 2013

In our city there are six significant galleries and a few more not so good. One of the good ones, an upstart newcomer for about two years, quietly switched back from 50% to 40% a few months ago. Several top selling local artists have switched to her now and it looks like more are coming.

From: Leonard Kroft — Jul 26, 2013

Commercial, brick and mortar galleries are either holding their own or declining. Auction houses, where commissions are a lot less, are on the rise.

From: Hans Petersen — Jul 27, 2013

High brokerage fees are slowly killing the brick and mortar brokerage business.

From: Anonymous — Jul 27, 2013

Artists who sell their own work are forever compelled to live in the bargain basement. I couldn’t have achieved the prices I get without the benefit of dealers. Even at 50/50 I still make more than the average artist who sells on his own.

From: Mike Barr — Jul 28, 2013

Who are you anonymous, what is your art like, what are your prices and where are your galleries?

From: Keith Thirgood — Jul 29, 2013

I don’t know about Australia, however, in Canada, what the dealer did is against the law. We have privacy laws that only allow commercial e-mails to go out to a permission-based list. In this case the artist has permission from the people on her list to e-mail them, however, the gallery does not. Permission is not magically passed on to someone who acquires the list. Legitimate businesses don’t build their lists by stealing other people’s lists. Not only is it against the law, it also shows that they are less than trustworthy (or ignorant of the most basic of business etiquette). A good gallery is worth its weight in gold, however, one who would steal my list would make me very wary. Cheers

From: Rick Rotante — Aug 01, 2013

I am presently in several galleries (a new twist for me) and one of them is doing all they can to market my work. This is a breath of fresh air to me. Galleries are not what they were and may never be again. The economy is such that they are struggling to make end meet as we artist also are. I don’t know about Canada, but in America, life is still a hardship for many and those with money are holding on to it. I just hope things get better before I pass on to that perfect studio in the sky.

From: John Berry — Aug 05, 2013

I agree with most of what you said. My only comment to you would be, you seem to have been well connected to the gallery market for some time now. So it would seem that things could be and are different for those of us that have been doing this “art” business within the last 10 years. If one were to be in your shoes, selling well in galleries for quite sometime, there never would be any reason to do anything other than stay in your room and paint. But for the majority of us out here working in the fine art world, such is not the case.

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Evening Surf

oil painting by Don Demers, Eliot, Maine, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Richard Komm of Rostock, Germany who wrote, “It’s all about sharing for the mutual good. You have gathered a number of friends who might collect you. It may be a strange phenomenon, but your association with a gallery legitimizes you.”