Sales are slow.
You’ve been with the gallery for a short time (let’s say just over a year) and you expected them to sell more art for you, but it’s just not happening.
Or maybe you’ve been with them longer. They sold a lot of your work at one point, but sales have dropped off significantly in the past couple of years.
So what now – do you ask for your work to be returned? Not yet.
Opening a dialogue is your first course of action. Regardless of the outcome, you will be admired for your professionalism.
Bringing Up Slow Sales with Your Gallery
The conversation you have with your gallerist about slow sales depends on a number of factors, including:
- How long they have represented you.
- The terms of your agreement with them.
- The nature of your past relationship.
- The demand for your work outside of their venue.
How do you begin a conversation considering these factors? Here are three options.
1. “You mentioned that people have been saying nice things about my art, but sales have been slim. Do you have any idea why?”
Just come right out and ask!
This is an open-ended question. The response might be that they have no idea, but you might discover valuable clues. You might learn that:
- The work is too small or too large for what they’re selling right now.
- Your price point is out of their sweet spot.
- Your palette is too green or too pink.
- Someone close to your gallerist is dealing with an extended illness and they have had to spend time away from their desk.
You might also learn that they aren’t selling a single thing. It’s not just your work that isn’t selling.
Or they are spending a lot of time promoting five new artists they added to their stable, which makes you feel like your work has been banished to the back room.
Knowing these answers will give you valuable insights into what your next step should be.
2. “How can I help you sell more of my art?”
It’s natural for you to want to say, “Why aren’t you selling more of my art?” But this doesn’t sound very cooperative, and puts your gallerist on the defensive.
Remember that you are in a partnership with the gallery. When they do well, you do well. So anything you can do to help them benefits you, too.
By asking this question, you are reaffirming your role as a partner. And you’re confirming that you are professional, cooperative, and helpful.
Another way to put this might be …
3. “Do you need anything from me that would help you sell more of my art?
Again, this confirms your role as a partner. You want to help.
Twists on this:
Would you like different work? Would you like for me to exchange what you have for new (or larger/smaller, bluer, less expensive) pieces?
Would it help if I updated my artist statement or provided you with additional stories about the work?
Would you like to schedule an artist talk? I’d be happy to discuss my work at your next VIP reception.
Only you can decide the best course of action for your relationship with your gallery. But it’s always better to open the conversation than to stew in your unhappiness.
The examples above are certainly not the only options. How do you handle slow sales with your gallery?
What experience do you have with this situation? I hope you’ll leave a comment so that other artists might benefit.