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Archive for the ‘Fine Art Consulting Services’ Category

Art Consultant, Artist’s Agent, Manager or Representative?

In Fine Art Agents, Fine Art Business, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Representatives on October 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Art consultant, artists’ agent, artist’s manager or artists’ representative… just what’s the difference?  These are various terms, titles or descriptions of people (or entities) that offer independent services to artists, art buyers, art collectors or others involved in the selling and buying of art.

Because, as far as I know, there is no statutory “title registration” or associated professional licensing requirements for these roles, the definition of each is subject to whatever the consumer and the provider of the services understand and agree to.  For the same reason, there are no education, internship or examination requirements that the service provider must comply with, nor any regulatory agency to check and enforce compliance with such requirements, as there are for licensed professions.

So just what service providers, in general, do these titles apply to?  From my experience, observations and research, they apply as follows:

  1. Art Consultant: someone (person or business entity) that has knowledge, expertise and experience in the art arena about art work in its various forms and media and the proper placement (installation & display), pricing and acquiring of such art.  The knowledge of the art includes knowledge about the artist who created the art, and about the media, style and historical context (as applicable) of the art work.  An art consultant generally consults to the consumer of art, to help the consumer in making an informed purchase, at a reasonable market price, that will meet the consumer’s preferences and art needs.  An art consultant may also help an art owner with the resale of art that the owner has.  The art consultant is usually independent or an employee of a gallery and is paid by the consumer or by the gallery.  If independent, the art consultant usually represents the buyer who is paying for the services, acting as both an advisor and personal shopper for the art buyer.  If an employee of a gallery, the art consultant directly represents the gallery, and indirectly represents the artist.  In such case, the art consultant is paid by the gallery and is part of the services that a gallery provides to art buyers on behalf of the artists that the gallery represents.
  2. Artists’ Agent: An artists’ agent, as it sounds, represents an artist (or usually multiple artists), is normally independent and is either a person or a business entity.  The agent will have knowledge, expertise and experience in the selling and pricing of art, the business of art and promoting of artists.  The artist pays the agent, usually on a commission and/or fee basis, to primarily market and sell the artist’s art work.   The agent may also act on behalf of the artist to find and secure venues for the display and sale of the artist’s work, such as art shows, exhibitions and festivals, or to find and secure opportunities for juried competitions or commission work.  In representing the artist, the agent may have an “agency” relationship with the artist (where the term “agent” comes from), including responsibilities to conduct business, such as processing payments, negotiating deals or signing purchase orders and agreements, on behalf of the artist.  The agent may even receive direct payments (from art buyers) for the artist’s work, much as a gallery receives payment for the artist’s work that it sells.  This is most likely in the case of Internet sales via the agent’s website.  In such cases, the agent assumes the associated legal and fiduciary responsibilities to the artist.  However, unless the agent is also a lawyer, the agent cannot offer legal services for the artist.
  3. Artist’s Manager: Much the same as an “Artists’ Agent”, except more typically an individual employed exclusively by an artist as an employee of the artist.  Again the artist pays the manager, but as an employee of the artist, the manager may have a base salary and benefits, depending on whether the position is full or part-time.  I have also seen the title used for an employee of a management services firm that serves a clientele of artists, much the way the titles “account manager”, “client manager” or “project manager” designate an employee performing a management service for a client of other services firms.  As an employee of such a firm, the firm pays the agent from the fees paid to the firm by the artist client of the firm.
  4. Artists’ Representative: Also much the same as an “Artists’ Agent”, except without the “agency” relationship.  The services are more marketing and sales, less business.  The “artists’ rep” is more of an assistant to, “matchmaker” and advocate for the artist without being a conductor of business for the artist.  The rep will market and sell the artwork, but will not have the transactions run through the rep’s business.  All transactions remain direct between the artist and the art buyer, even if processed by the rep.  The rep will seek venues for the artist, and perhaps prepare applications to those venues for the artist, but the applications, and any resulting agreements, will be directly between, and executed by, the artist and the venue sponsor.  The rep may find promotional or advertising opportunities for the artist, but the artist will directly authorize any related purchase orders and sign any related agreements.  The rep may also help the artist by handling shipping and/or installation of the sold art work on behalf of the artist.

As said in my introduction to this blog, there being no title registration or licensing requirements that I am aware of for the roles described above, the titles are really subjective.  It’s the understanding of the role as agreed between the consumer and provider of the services that really matters.  Don’t assume that a specific set of services is included based on a subjective title.  Assumption is the mother of many problems!

If one of these types of service providers sounds right for you, take the time to find one, to  get acquainted and comfortable with each other, to check background & references, and then communicate openly to set goals, a scope of services and a compensation basis that meet your needs.  Avoid long-term commitments until you have had enough time working together to see how the relationship pans out.  The first months may actually be a growing and learning together period wherein the business relationship evolves to most successfully meet your needs.  This is a good thing!  Services packages that best deliver personalized service are not likely the “one size fits all” kind.

In my research for this blog, I found helpful information at the following websites:

Gallery Representation: Getting the Most for Your $

In Fine Art, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Galleries on September 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Artists often seek “bricks & mortar” gallery representation to display their work at an art buyers and collectors destination where the work is seen and hopefully purchased first hand.  Artists also sometimes question whether the commission that the gallery is paid for its services (most commonly 50%) is worth it.  If you believe that gallery representation is for you, consider the following checklist of gallery attributes and services before you select a gallery, or if you are reconsidering the gallery representation that you presently have:

1. Location: Is your work displayed in a first class, prime location for fine art sales (a fine art buyer’s destination)?  Or, is it in a gallery on a side street lost among other types of businesses, or in a location that is not an art buyers destination?  “Location, Location, Location!”

2. Display: Is your work displayed well, with plenty of room and proper lighting for the best possible presentation?  Or, is it crowded among other artwork that is distracting, or poorly illuminated, or placed in a congested place, or just sitting in the back room inventory collecting dust?  If you don’t know, visit the gallery unannounced, or have a friend visit it for you.  Or, simply ask the gallery to send you a digital photo of your work as it’s being displayed.

3. Promotions: Does the gallery promote your work via openings, shows, advertising or the Internet?  Or, does your work just sit there waiting for a sale to walk-in traffic?

4. Internet: Does the gallery have a website and are images of your work displayed on it?  Does the gallery use blogging as a way to increase exposure of the gallery and your work?

5. Networking: Does the gallery use business and social networking to increase your exposure?

6. Dynamic Displays: Is the gallery dynamic to give visitors ever-changing new looks to keep the repeaters coming back for more? Or, does the gallery place the work just once until sold, rarely changing the displays so that the appearance becomes stale and the frequency of repeat visitors suffers?

7. Staff: Is the gallery staffed with people who actively pursue both inside and outside sales, are knowledgeable about you and your work, and skilled at displaying, selling and installing your art. Or, is the gallery short-staffed or staffed with passive sales people or people who don’t know much about you or your work.

8. Communications: Does the gallery keep you informed of what’s happening with your art and dialogue with you about what is selling and what is not?  A monthly phone call or e-mail is not a lot to expect, although communication is a two-way street.  Or, are you left wondering what is going on, month after month?

9.  Sale Negotiations Consultation: Does the gallery consult with you, during a difficult sales transaction, to discuss discounting the price with you  (with your proportional participation in the price reduction) to close a sale?  Or, does the gallery discount your work as they feel is necessary for a sale without consulting you, and then expect you to share in the reduced revenue of the discounted sale?

10.  Sales Notifications & Payments: When your work sells, does the gallery promptly tell you and pay you your share of the proceeds?  Or, are you left wondering about sales and, when made, are you left waiting for an extended period to receive payment for your work?

If the above listed positive attributes describe the gallery that you are considering or with, I suggest that the commission that you pay them is well worth it if it is in the 50% range.  If not, you may wish to consider trying to negotiate a lower commission or simply seek another gallery.  With a lower gallery commission, you or others (such as an independent representative) can pick up the slack of the gallery’s shortcomings (such as outside sales, advertising or an Internet presence) with the savings.

Protect the value your work! Remember that, IMO, the retail value of your art work is the same regardless of how, or where, or by whom it sells. Approximately 50% of that value is what you, the artist, expect at least for your work.  The balance (about 50%) is the cost to get it sold, exclusive of taxes and shipping.  Depending on the services provided to sell the work, that amount can all go to one party (such as a gallery or you) or it is split among several parties (such as an Internet site, independent broker, interior designer, art show sponsor, gallery, you or your representative).  Any discounting of your retail price effectively reduces the retail price of your next work for sale and thereby reduces either the least that you receive for the work, or what you have available to spend to sell it, or both.

When you hire a gallery to represent you, the relationship is one of mutual trust and support with mutual benefit as the goal.  Neither party can work unilaterally for their own benefit, at the cost of the other’s benefit, without poisoning the relationship.  Such behavior will lead to mistrust, guarded communications and ultimately a breakdown of the relationship.  Examples include some of the negative attributes that I listed above, and:

  • the artist selling the art work at reduced prices direct to gallery clients (those who became aware of the artist’s work at the gallery, and then went direct to the artist to avoid the gallery commission);
  • the artist reducing the sale price of the art for transactions made without the gallery, thereby undercutting the gallery’s ability to support the retail sales prices for the artist’s work;
  • the gallery limiting the artist’s opportunities for local outside sales (such as from participation in local art shows), or the artist participating in such without in some way including the gallery;  local (to the gallery) art shows are a joint opportunity for outside sales that can benefit both parties with a re-structured (specifically for the show sales) gallery commission based on a unique (to the show) division of responsibilities.

Working together for mutual benefit strengthens the ability of both parties to make sales and support the retail prices. Some buyers, as if on a quest for the Holy Grail, will do almost anything to “divide and conquer” the gallery and artist to get the art work at a substantial discount.  The gallery and artist are stronger together, and if they both recognize and appreciate this, they will form better relationships and stick with them, evolving together as conditions dictate.

If gallery representation is not for you, consider hiring an independent representative to help you expand your exposure and sales opportunities.  An independent representative will cost less than a gallery, but does not offer the “brick & mortar” space to display your work.  However, an independent representative can offer many of the other positive attributes I’ve listed above about galleries, such as promotions, Internet presence, networking, communications and knowledgeable, aggressive sales staff (the representative).  I’ll write my next blog about this option for you.

Here are some related articles that I found on the Internet that may prove helpful to you if you are considering gallery representation:

Giclee Prints & Their Benefits

In Fine Art, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Matting & Framing, Fine Art Prints on August 15, 2010 at 6:14 am

Giclee prints, as I have described in an earlier post, are high quality digital prints printed on high quality art paper or canvas using an ink jet printing process with fade-resistant, archival quality ink.  Once a paper or canvas is selected, the digital image can be printed at any size from 2″ x 3″ to 40″ x 60″ with the large format resources that I work with.  Some artists choose to make these high quality reproductions of their original fine art to make the art work image accessible and affordable for more art buyers to enjoy.

Shown above: the Canon iPF imagePROGRAF 8100 – the large format ink jet printer that I work with for my clients.  It uses a twelve-color, water-based ink cartridge to produce brilliant, true to original colors.  The typical desktop ink jet printer only uses four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

The original art work remains the one-of-a-kind original with no loss of value due to availability of reproductions.  Actually, the original may increase in value as the work of art and the artist gain greater exposure through distribution of the reproductions.  I have come to realize the value of giclee prints for artists, art galleries and art buyers and now include giclee consulting among the services that I offer my fine art clients.

For artists and art galleries, giclees offer a way to reach and service more art buyers with the same fine art image, and to expand their inventory of available art with reproductions that are affordable for a larger number of potential art buyers. Giclees fill a 2-dimensional art market niche with three-digit price points,  well below the four, five or even six-digit price points of the original works.  Giclees can generate more (and repeating) sales revenue from prints of a fine art image, beyond the one-time revenue realized by original fine art work.  In effect, sales revenues can begin before the sale of an original work of art, and residual income can continue long after the original work sells.

For art buyers, giclees offer an opportunity to acquire fine art images at affordable prices and at sizes other than that of the original work of art.  And, for the money, giclees can really look good on display.  Giclees can be printed on canvas and wrapped around a hardwood frame to appear very similar to the original artwork.  Clear, textured coating can even be applied to a giclee to simulate the texture of brush strokes on the image surface.  The wrapped hardwood frame can either be 1-1/2″ thick for frameless display or 3/4″ thick for installation in a frame for display.  The surface sheen is selected from a dull, matte finish, a low luster finish or a gloss finish (among others) as needed to make the desired appearance.

Printing can also be done on photo paper, watercolor paper, velvet paper, ultra-smooth paper or textured paper to name a few.  Again, different sheens (such as matte or gloss) are available.  Such prints can be matted and framed for display, with or without a protective museum glass front covering.  These reproductions are lower cost than the higher end giclees that use stretched canvas wrapped around hardwood frames.  The paper prints simply address another market niche.

To better serve the various needs of my artist, gallery and art buyer clients, I work with Faville Photo of Mesa, Arizona, to arrange for affordable, high quality giclee printing, reproduction, matting and framing services.  Knowing the needs of my clients and the services of Faville, I am able to professionally match the most appropriate services to the needs and budgets for any artwork reproduction project.  Check out the Faville Photo website at http://www.FavillePhoto.com.  With any direct contact, be sure to reference my Faville ID “HO2010” to receive my complimentary consulting services to help you decide the best services set match for your particular needs and budget .  I will also give you a coupon for 5% off of your first order as our way of saying thanks for joining our growing list of clients