Friday, April 29, 2011

Entering Shows, Part 6 - Pricing and Sales

Most shows do offer the works on display for sale. For private shows where the object is fund raising, selling the art is a major part of fund raising. Contrary to popular belief, most shows do not make major money off entry fees. So the sponsoring organization maybe be depending on sales to push them over the top. Expect this. Most shows will allow you to enter if your work is not for sale, but some will not. This will be explained in the prospectus. Read this carefully.

Most events will expect you to place a value on your work. If you are a first time entrant, you can ask for advice on this. But do be aware that you are responsible for pricing. Also, you will be expected to figure in their commission into your price. This is usually a percentage of the sale price, which varies from show to show. I have seen this as high as 65% to as low as 10%. How dependent the group is on sales for funding will be reflected in this percentage. But be aware of how this effects the overall pricing of the show. You have to judge for yourself if you can live with less per piece if the work sells.
Realistically, can you reasonably expect sales? Different areas vary on this. Some shows have a rather high rate of sales per entry, while others do not. Location is a major factor in this, but don’t count out any venue. You might be surprised who does and who does not buy art. Also, time of year can and does effect sales. While sales might be brisk in late fall and early winter, January through tax time can be very dead. Then there are the spring art shows, when the weather begins to break. This can have a positive effect on people’s willingness to buy art.  

Preparing your artwork
Most shows require that you present your work ready to hang. What does this mean? It means the artwork should be clean, finished (dry!) mounted and framed with wire on the back to be hung. Almost every show I have entered does not allow saw tooth hangers. They are difficult for the show to work with and do not hang the work securely. If the work is not ready, the group will not get it ready for you. It will not hang. It is that simple.

Most organizations will tell you exactly what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for that show. While most shows do accept gallery-wrapped canvas unframed, a few still will not. You need to be aware of this.

More and more galleries and shows are requesting that works on paper be under acrylic glazing rather than glass today. This is both a weight and safety issue. If you are shipping your work, acrylic glazing makes much more sense than glass.

Mark your work
Clearly mark your work in accordance with the directions in the prospectus. Each piece should be clearly labeled with your name, title, price, etc. Most groups will have a printed label/template for this. If not, ask. This is necessary for hanging and judging the show, but also to make sure any unsold work is returned to you.

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