In the Pricing Your Art with Confidence program, Debby Williams and I stressed several times (Debby delivered the drill down) that you should never ever undersell your galleries.
Artist Cherilyn SunRidge, who doesn't currently have gallery representation but is wisely planning for the future, asked for clarification. I thought I'd share my responses here.
Q: This means that ethically I would not list any works for sale privately if they are actually being housed in a gallery? Or keep them for sale privately/on my site, and send the traffic and acknowledgement to the gallery?
A: You could list them and say they are available at X gallery. The gallery would appreciate your driving business to them.
If you have consigned work to a gallery, they have the right to sell that work during the consignment period.
I would add that even after the consignment period, if someone comes to you and says they saw the work at X gallery but they want to buy it from you . . . you could do one of two things:
- Send them back to the gallery for the sale.
- Close the sale yourself (at the SAME gallery-listed price) and give the gallery their commission.
Q: Ethically, could I sell the work and retrieve it from the gallery? (not comfortable with that)
A: NO! You are right to be uncomfortable with this.
Q: If a buyer does not reference having seen the piece in X gallery, this would not apply – correct?
A: If a buyer acts like they've seen the work before, you need to inquire how they heard about you. Ask, “Have you seen my work before?” Buyers can be sneaky! They sometimes circumvent a gallery in hopes of getting a better deal.
Do what you can to keep a squeaky clean ethics trail. You'll sleep better at night when you treat your galleries right – and your galleries will love you right back.