For a change, after lots of family craft articles, it’s time for professional help. This, I believe, excellent article is written by an experienced jeweler, to benefit advanced as well as beginning professional jewelry artists who are building a professional art reputation and income from their art.
“How to Sell Your Jewelry Through Art Galleries
One way to sell your higher-priced, one-of-a-kind jewelry is through art galleries.
Customers who shop at galleries expect to pay higher prices, and they’re looking for unusual handcrafted pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. Gallery owners and staff are experienced at selling art to this type of clientele, and they are always in search of new, high-quality handcrafts.
The Best Galleries for Your Jewelry
Many galleries specialize in a particular art niche. If you find one that specializes in a theme, material, or era that characterizes your jewelry, it could be the beginning of a successful business relationship for you.
For example, if you make dichroic glass bead jewelry, seek out some galleries that focus on glass art.
And be sure to get a good idea of the gallery’s personality – a conservative, traditional atmosphere would be a good bet for Victorian-theme jewelry, but not such a good fit for trendy polymer clay bracelets.
Here are some ways to locate galleries that are likely to be interested in your work:
- Check your phone book’s yellow pages for galleries in your town and in other towns near you. If they’re close enough, visit likely prospects to scope them out before making any appointments to show them your work.
- Look in the classified ads of art magazines for gallery advertisements. Some art magazines also publish annual listings of galleries.
- When your friends and family travel, ask them to be on the lookout for galleries that seem compatible with your style of jewelry. Your loved ones are usually happy to step into a likely gallery and pick up a business card for you to follow up on.
- Do some Internet searches for galleries that pertain to your style of jewelry. For more accurate search results, try using quotes in your search terms – for example,
“gallery” + “glass art” .
Study these galleries’ online presence and see whether they feel like places that are right for your work. Bookmark at least a dozen, and see if their sites state their preferred procedure for artists to submit their work.
- To show your work to galleries within driving distance, call first and set an appointment with the person in charge of accepting new work. If they say they’re not accepting anything new at this time, thank them politely and move on to the next likely prospect.
- For galleries farther afield, you can send a brief email to the gallery owner, introducing yourself and stating why you think your jewelry fits well with their gallery. Include a link to your website so they can peruse your work at their convenience. If you don’t hear back from them in two weeks, call the owner to follow up.
Find Out More About Your Top Gallery Choices
Investigate your top gallery choices a little deeper. You want to make sure they have a good marketing plan, and that the pieces in their shop do sell at a reasonable speed. When talking to a gallery owner about carrying your jewelry, here are some things to find out:
- What what kind of advertising do they do? What special events do they host, and what promotional mailings do they send to their customers?
- Will they give you the names of a few of their other artists you can call or email to find out their experiences with this gallery?
- Does the gallery buy artists’ work on a wholesale basis, or accept it on consignment? And if it’s on consignment, what percentage of the retail sale price does the gallery pay the artist?
- How often does the gallery send out payments to the artists?
- Will they have special promotions or exhibitions of your work?
- Is the gallery staff well educated in the art of the artists represented there? It’s the salespeople’s job to sell both the artist and the art to customers.
How to Maintain a Good Relationship with a Gallery
Once a gallery is carrying your work, you’ll need to do your best to build and maintain a good relationship with the owner and staff. Here are some things to consider:
- Promote the gallery as much as you can. Post their name and contact info on your website as a location where your jewelry can be purchased. When you do shows, have flyers available listing all the shops and galleries that carry your work.
- Never undercut the gallery’s prices on your work. If they’re selling one of your bracelets for $150, that’s what you should be charging for the same piece. When a gallery finds out you’re underselling them, they usually stop carrying your work.
- Always make an appointment before showing up at a gallery. Whether you’re visiting for the first time to show your work, or coming to discuss ongoing business, be sure to demonstrate respect for the time of the gallery owner and staff.
- Don’t plan to clean out your inventory from a gallery when you do a show, and then return the unsold pieces back to the gallery. That creates headaches, extra paperwork, and empty shelf space for the gallery owner.
- Make yourself available to participate in any of the gallery’s promotional events you can attend. Be supportive of all their advertising and publicity efforts, and help out wherever you can.
- Establishing a good relationship with a gallery that fits with your jewelry is a great step for your business. Good luck, and enjoy selling your jewelry through art galleries!”
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