I just had a good chat with my pal Jen Mecca. She'll hopefully chime in here at some point but we talked about the wholesale thing, so I thought I'd put some of it out here.
I am still getting my feet wet in this market so keep that in mind. I do welcome those who have had more experience to comment. That would be helpful to many of us.
My perception is that wholesale buyers are gallery owners who care about art and craft and the artists who's work they carry. (That may not always be true) They are there to help us and promote us and our work. If they are willing to buy our work I'd say it's up to us to make the best we can at any given time, to be punctual with orders, and have good relationships with the galleries that are putting our work out.
Jen made the point that often times many of us, when just starting out, are willing to do just about anything to get our work out. I think that's true. As we become (hopefully) more successful in our careers we begin to care about having our work move out into more spaces and taken more seriously. (Not everyone of course goes this route and does just fine).
I want to clarify that I am talking about retail art galleries here. I'm not speaking so much about a gallery that is your "representative" in the sense that many are for painters and sculptors. (Actually, clumping 'galleries' all together in one word is probably too general anyhow)
Jen and I wondered if other artists out there have noticed that some buyers are now wanting to consign due to the lower economy. Anyone had that experience? How do you feel about that?
Also, when a gallery does buy work at wholesale, 50%, I usually expect it to be marked up twice that. Should a gallery notify the artist if the work is going to be sold for more? I have heard people say over and over, "don't under sale your galleries." (For instance, I shouldn't sell my pots from my showroom or at a craft show for a lower price). If that's the case then should the gallery be allowed to mark it up? If they have prime real estate in NYC should the pots be more there than in a shop outside of Atlanta? (not that I have work in either of those places!)
Exclusivity seems to be a big issue too. I am okay with agreeing to not having work at a competitor's space that is nearby. How close is 'nearby'? Same city? Same zip code? How does that work? I don't think there are any set rules. And should I grant a shop exclusivity if they are consigning my work? I think I'd be more willing to grant it to a wholesale buyer.
Still, it's all not very clear what the 'rules' are or if there are any. It seems to me that it's up to the agreement between the artist and the shop owner. Like any relationship things can go smoothly, or take a tumble.
Often we are asked to sign a contract with a shop or gallery. Should we as artists have contracts of our own? Why not? What are our rights as the creators of the work we make? Shouldn't we ask for the very best that we, or our work deserve? Once the work sells to a shop I guess it's theirs. True? Anyone have anything like this?
I hope I'm not muddling around too much here.
I feel like I have good relationships with the few shops I work with at the moment. I am willing to make things work out best for both parties involved. I think communication is important and any problems should be worked out as they arise.
As for taking orders I know many potters have their own methods. Currently I have a $500 minimum order for the first order (that would be $1000 worth of pots, retail). I expect payment to be made upon delivery. I have a wholesale sheet with my pots listed and all the other pertinent information. I charge actual shipping costs plus a 6% packing fee. I don't have a minimum for future orders. I also give 30 days for payment on future orders. I do make exceptions sometimes with the minimum and I've worked with people on payment too. I figure I will need them to be flexible with me someday plus I'm just a nice guy, you know.
If pots are delivered to a gallery should there be a 'delivery fee'? A bit less than the shipping cost? I think some artists make a big run and deliver to several galleries along the way. What if a gallery owner comes and picks up the order? They don't have to pay shipping, I don't have to pack it for UPS or USPS. That's pretty good for both of us.
Well, that's all for now.