How to Sell Your Artwork on Consignment

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Selling your artwork on consignment

This post is intended for artists selling their own work, not for collectors wanting to sell someone else’s art work.

I’ve received lots of inquiries lately about how to sell art through consignment. Partially because retailers do not have the cash to purchase art and carry an inventory during tough times, but mostly because we live in an area that has a high volume of tourists (would-be art buyers) in the summer months

If you’ve considered selling your art on consignment there are a few considerations that will help make this a profitable experience.

How consignment works:

You provide artwork for a gallery or shop. When it sells, you get part of the selling price, and the shop gets the rest. It’s not unusual to see a 30/70 split, where the shop keeps 30%.

A 50/50 split is still fair, since they’re showcasing your work and providing valuable wall space–the difference is worth the exposure. Anything higher than this should be avoided.

Choosing a Consignment Venue

Always try to choose a shop or gallery that has a good chance of selling your art. Best case scenerio, they have experience in selling art similar to yours and in the same price range. Avoid shops that might be looking for great art to hang on their walls for free—these shops will not be motivated to sell your art. Try to select venues that have good lighting and a steady flow of traffic, tourist districts are usually great places to start.

A Good Contract is a Must When Consigning Your Art

To avoid misunderstandings during and after your art being sold, I recommend using a contract listing each artwork. It doesn’t need to be crafted by a lawyer, however there are some specific items that should be addressed. Here is a list of some key elements:

• Include your name and full contact details

• Name of contact at the shop and their telephone and email address

• Term of the contract: drop-off date, and when you need to pick up the art if it doesn’t sell (6 month to a year is normal)

• Name, title, size, edition number (if applicable) and description of the artwork

• Retail price. Set a reasonable and fair market price. Do your research in advance.

• The agreed commission and specify the split, indicating who gets what percent.

• How you are paid. The standard is no more than 30 days from when the artwork sells. Payment by Paypal, mail or electronic transfer are all acceptable.

• Short statement about ownership of the artwork and copyright (so that this can be made clear to the buyer)

• Insurance requirements. The gallery, you (or both) should have insurance for the artwork in the case of fire, theft or any kind of damage that might occur while it is at the shop.

There are lots of great examples out there for contracts here are a few links to help you get started. Modify, cut and paste and build a contract that fits your need.

Sample Artist-Gallery Contract from Michael Dunn

Consignment doesn’t work for everyone, as it can consume a lot of time moving and dropping artwork amongst various shops. However, if you aren’t a “sales person”, consigning your art is a great alternative to attending art markets, while allowing you to experiment in different shops throughout your area (seeing what sells where). It also allows you to stay in your studio and produce—your favourite thing!

Let us know your experiences in consigning your art. Share your thoughts with our other readers by commenting!

Best of luck!


Related Post:

“Choosing An Art Exhibition Venue”

Learn How to Price Your Art