What happens when you buy that artwork? - 2nd Jun 2023

What happens when you buy that artwork?

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

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

A visit to an artist's studio is a great experience where you can dive deeper into learning about how 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 (commissioned) is also an option available from most artists, and 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 / 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 40-50% of the artwork sale price. (I won't get into GST here but that is also a factor)

If you didn't know about this commission, you are probably thinking WHAAAAAT that is a lot!  It may seem like a lot, but please read on, as here is what a good gallery does;
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 full-time on customer service, be professional at all times, have full payment options, answer the phone and other messages, follow all enquiries, pay insurance, stay relevant to all 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
A visit to an artist's studio is unique. 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 the retail gallery as we cannot under-cut our biggest supporters (the galleries) who showcase our artwork so well. Most artists use internet banking as their preferred payment method.

What about commissions?
Artists (including me) can get a lot of energy from working directly with people who buy and choose to live with their 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. In my case, I will talk with you, gaining an understanding of what you want, then give you a timeframe and pricing. I will often make 2 pieces for you to choose your favourite. A deposit is usually paid upfront and the balance once the artwork has been completed.

Summing up, here are some final notes.
  • By purchasing art from a gallery, you will support two small NZ businesses.
  • The art you purchase from a gallery, has been made (and paid for) by the artist, long before they receive any returns.
  • Good galleries work hard for their commission on artworks.
  • If you choose to buy art direct from the artist's studio, it should be for the retail price, though you'll receive the 'studio experience' including time with the artist.
  • Commissions give the artist certainty before making the art.
I hope you now understand all the options available to you for buying that next special piece of art.

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