Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Thoughts on having your photography sold in art stores?

Hello all!

I am still getting used to referring to myself as a photographer, but I sell photography, so I guess that's what I am!  I'm an oceanographer by day and due to my love of nature and ocean surveys, I have a collection of nature photos that I love and was encouraged to sell.  I also have some architectural photos but that's neither here nor there. 

I just started participating in arts festivals last year and am getting more confident with each festival even if the payback isn't there yet.  Receiving compliments about my work and meeting such friendly and talented artists has been great though.  

The owner of a really great artsy store has agreed to make room in her store for me.  I was quite excited by this until she said it's based on commission and the split is 60/40.  Is this the average commission for stores?  She would only feature my matted photos since I don't make my own frames (bc she has a framing service there) and so the return on this would be quite low for me.  I am trying to figure out whether it's worth it to place my work in stores. 

Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. 

Thanks so much!

Renee Searfoss

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Comment by Renee Searfoss on August 19, 2012 at 8:51pm

Thank you all for your feedback.  The owner and her employees are super nice and supportive, so I'm going to give it a try! 

Comment by S Brian Berkun on August 14, 2012 at 6:20pm

This is a discussion that has raged far and wide, search the blog for that. Basically for me it boils down to a) Are you okay with decorating the gallery, restaurant, library, etc., with you work with the possibility of increasing your exposure (excuse the pun) and maybe selling something. Or do you b) limit your exposure to just increasingly exorbitantly priced art fairs? I'm assuming you get the 60% and the gallery gets 40%, that is not unusual. I go for a) decorate the walls and gain exposure but be sure to put your business card/price tag whatever on it with contact info or website. Of course any sales generated by exposure in the store should be referred back to the store and said commission paid, you don't want to bite any hands that feed you! Ultimately the extra exposure (read that as income stream) in as many venues as possible is the aim. 40% off of something sold is better than 0% for something not sold along with the aforementioned exorbitant booth fees and equipment!

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on August 12, 2012 at 10:16pm

Renee, you make the most on work you sell yourself.  If you can sell lots it might be worth it.

Comment by Jim Parker on August 12, 2012 at 1:04pm

Gallery commission can run anywhere from 30-50%, depending on a number of factors. 40% is not unreasonable if they will market your work, provide wall space for display and handle all sales. Exclusivity in your market area may be an issue to discuss.

How will your work be displayed? If it's just a bin or two of prints, can you afford to have that inventory sitting on the floor at the store? If you have no framed work to draw in potential buyers, can you negotiate a lower commission rate? Are you competing with other photographers work? Will your work be displayed separately from other 2-D artists?

All factors to consider when negotiating your fee and whether it's worth your time.

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