There are all kinds of opportunities for artists to show and to sell their work.
Your inbox probably has an email from a rich oil sheik in Qatar who wants to buy your art right now.
What do you do?
How can you tell the good opportunities from those you should avoid?
My advice is always to trust first and to be cautious second and most importantly.
As with everything in your art business, the onus is on you to verify all of the facts. Here’s how you do that.
Visit When You Can
Peruse online gallery sites for signs of business legitimacy and also to see the range of art they’re showing.
Do you like the work?
Would you be proud to have your art shown alongside that on the site?
Is the photography of high quality?
Are all works credited?
Do they make it easy for customers to buy the art?
Visit brick-and-mortar spaces to check out cleanliness, professionalism, and staff manners. Look for red dots on the walls, keeping in mind that not all galleries mark artworks as Sold.
Inquire From All Angles
After thanking the sheik from Qatar for his interest, ask how he found your site and what he liked most about the artwork he’s interested in. (This is too much work for the phonies.)
Ask venues how long they have been in business.
Ask organizers of juried exhibitions how many years they have been operating, and what the traffic and sales volume have been in the past.
Ask everyone for references from happy artists or clients.
Ask artists associated with the venue or organization what their sales have been like.
Have they been paid in a timely manner?
Has communication been good?
Has the other party lived up to their promises?
Visit the Better Business Bureau site and enter the business name to see if any complaints have been filed against it.
For any organization, exhibition or venue, a little googling can answer a lot of questions.
What’s the website like?
Are they active on social media?
Do you see their calendar listings in local publications?
Do they advertise?
Search online for the sheik’s name to see if it has been associated with fraudulent email.
Get It In Writing
Read the client agreement carefully.
What is the duration of your commitment?
What is your financial commitment?
What are the venue’s obligations to you?
Don’t ship or sign anything until everything is in writing and the money, if it’s part of the transaction, has cleared the bank. This could take up to a month, so don’t let anyone rush you. (Honestly, when has any art-buying experience ever been urgent?)
I’ll leave you with this thought: I know several artists who have received phishy-looking emails from far-off countries that turned out to be legitimate.
Remember that I said to trust first. You just never know.