Art, money and “Dear Mr Denning”s…

I recently received an offer from a French gallery asking if they could show and sell my work. As is normal in the gallery business the gallery expects me to pay to send the work to them and I would also have to fund the return of any work not sold. This is part and parcel of the gallery taking the work ‘on consignment’ – that’s posh art-shop speak for sale-or-return (i.e. they take no financial risk at all on stock they try to sell). I wasn’t surprised by this arrangement but it is a point I generally try to negotiate over; that the gallery pays for transport in at least one direction. What did surprise me was the commission on the selling price that this gallery expected – seventy percent… And to think that some artists’ eyes water when they’re asked for fifty percent (the norm). Needless to say that this gallery won’t be appearing on my Christmas card list in the near future. NEXT…
Dear Mr Denning… Would you like to make a piece of work that would be exhibited in a month long, capital city, public gallery exhibition? Well, of course I would. This will of course impact on my other work (commissions, future personal show work etc.) so what is the budget for this piece of work that this publicly funded gallery would like to show? There isn’t a budget? Ahh… so will the finished piece be purchased by this institution? No? Can I offer another piece of work that’s already made and available for display and you arrange for the shipping of that? No? It has to be specifically produced for this show alone… but you are willing to pay for the transport of the work – how generous. So you publicly paid, art professionals expect me to have to put off paid work and future commercial gallery show work so that I can make work that won’t be sold and won’t be paid for in materials? But it’ll be an excellent PR opportunity Mr Denning. And there are lots of other artists happy to be involved and they’re not being paid either Mr Denning. Splendid… and thank you. No doubt you museum-fellows go home at the end of your art-professional, paid working day to a plate of hot, tasty PR vindaloo. NEXT…
Dear Mr Denning… Why is your work so expensive? If I could paint and draw like you I would enjoy what I was doing and consider this part of the reward and (here it comes reader…) would sell my work much cheaper so that I could reach more people. Do you have anything cheaper available? NEXT…


“24 hours in the life of a madman 33” 2010


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