Consigning your art is one way to earn money from your art. It isn’t the only way. It may or may not work for you. But if done correctly, you can learn a lot about what and where your market is.
Finding the right venue
2. Learn whether a store has a mission (representing artists from underserved communities, artists with disabilities, artists from a specific geographic area, etc.). Don’t press to be accepted if you are not a member of the group.
3. Pay attention to stores’ price points. Don’t embarrass yourself by approaching a high-end-big-dollar gallery if the work that you want to sell is exactly what you sell on ETSY for under $30.
4. Style matters. A gallery with a 20-year history of selling cutting-edge abstracts run by one of the Big Names in Abstract Art Criticism may not be interested in taking on even the most exquisite realistic botanical art.
5. Some stores require artists’ participation beyond dropping off work. Is there an hours-per-month requirement? If you are uncomfortable with a few hours a month at retail, are there other ways to fulfill a work requirement? Ask about the managers’ needs. Consider marketing and merchandizing as ways to fulfill your obligation.
6. Follow the store’s protocols with your Inventory Integrity. You want to sell your art, and stores have rules about pricing and presentation. Although you will not be in the store every day, you must monitor your own inventory. Once accepted, you will submit inventory sheets with prices. Smart artists use consistent inventory coding and pricing across all inventory and across all platforms. Present legible inventory lists. Unless it is the policy, don’t expect the store managers to code and price your work.
7. Understand when and how you will be paid. Some stores have multiple levels for consignors. Make sure that you understand exactly how the compensation system works. The store will collect and pay sales tax. You are responsible for paying your own income tax. Talk to an accountant or tax lawyer to make sure that you are tracking your sales and paying your income tax correctly.
1. Pricing is hard. What is the magic number that will encourage someone to purchase your work without undercutting its value (and your profit)? How much is too much? How little is too little? Talk to the managers. Look at the stock and ask about price points and what sells best.
2. Price your items consistently. If not now, then soon, you will be selling art in many outlets and across many platforms. Nothing will irritate your store managers and customers more than inconsistent pricing should you have one price for your website, another price for ETSY, one price for this store, another for the shop across town, and yet another for your direct sales. This is part of your Inventory Integrity.
1. Always present clean, well-packaged work.
2. Make sure that price tags and other tags are legible. If you have added explanatory material to your work, make sure that it is legible, properly spelled and punctuated, and not hidden by price tags (if possible.)
Promoting your presence in the store
1. Ask to do a demo or to teach a class. Many consignment venues have space for teaching which generates traffic for the store and can generate income for you. Store owners and managers are your first, best audience. The more that they know you, how you make your art, and how you talk about it, the easier it is for them to talk about your work to customers when you are not in the store.
2. Within the space limitations of the store, post an artist statement. Customers are curious about you and your art. How do you make it? What is/are your inspiration(s)? What materials do you use?
1. Sales are not personal. Some of your work may fly off the shelves; other work may not sell at all. Consider re-packaging, re-framing, or re-purposing the work by cutting it up and making a mosaic out of it, spreading gesso over the canvas and making a new painting, or re-making the jewelry by using the components in new work. Every piece of work won’t be loved, but all of it can be re-purposed.
2. Know the law. You will be asked to sign a contract. Read it. If you don’t understand some of its terms, ask the store owner, or, better yet, take it to your lawyer. You have a lawyer don’t you? Every artist should have a lawyer on retainer for no other reason than to have an expert eye to review anything to do with the sale of your art.
More reading about consigning
Consignment selling regulations
How to understand consignment rules
Starting a consignment business
Consigning your arts and crafts