What happens when you buy an artwork?

When selecting a special piece of art for your home, you have the choice to visit galleries, artist studios, or even undertake a commission directly with an artist.

With a gallery visit, you can see artworks from a variety of artists and you can expect the gallerist to be knowledgeable about them. You can enquire about a range of works.

Alternatively, a visiting an artist's studio is a great experience where you can dive deeper into learning about their art practice. Most artist's love sharing what they do; remember they spend a lot of time working alone.

Having a piece of art made to order is also an option from most artists. It can be a fun way to be more involved in the process yourself.

In these next notes, I'd like to share how each of these models work for you and the artist.

How the gallery and artist relationship works:

  1. Artworks are placed in a gallery on consignment and displayed until the artwork is sold.

  2. Once the artwork is sold the gallery pays the artist. Depending on the terms this can be within a few days, or most commonly, the 20th of the following month.

  3. The gallery takes a commission of usually 40% to 50% of the artwork sale price. GST is often an additional factor.

If you didn't know about this commission, it may seem like a lot. But galleries and gallerists work hard to expose, display, and sell bespoke artworks.

"[They] pay high rents, operate 6-7 days, pay staff, have quality lighting and display settings in a prominent location, promote the work in person and online, focus on customer service, have full payment options, answer the phone and other messages, follow all enquiries, pay insurance, and stay relevant to their artists and put on regular exhibitions."

As you can see, this is an exhaustive list.

Visiting and buying artwork from the artist's studio.

Visiting an artist's studio is an unique experience. Most obviously, you get the special experience of seeing where and how your artwork is made. When selling art direct, most artists, including me, will have the same prices as galleries as we cannot under-cut our biggest supporters who showcase our artwork so well. Most artists use internet banking as their preferred payment method.

What about commissions?

Artists like me can get a lot of energy from working directly with people who purchase artworks. The certainty of knowing the work has been ordered before making it helps with running a studio. Orders can come through galleries or directly to the artist from varying communication methods. In my case, I will talk with you and gain an understanding of what you want, then present you with a timeframe and pricing. A deposit is usually paid upfront and the remaining balance once the artwork has been completed.

I hope you now understand all the options available to you for buying your next bespoke artwork. 

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Photography by Adrian Malloch