"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
Art Galleries Closing-What Can You do?
- So this is Ann Rea coming to you from San Francisco, California. I have Lindsey Ardett, darn it coming to you from Vancouver,
- [Lindsey] Yeah. Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadian artist, painter specifically. She just actually enrolled in The Semester. But when we did our application call, Lindsey shared a story with me that I hear way too much. In summary, I won't get into all the gory details, but Lindsey is a pretty successful painter. She supports her family and does pretty well. But unfortunately, there's at least one gallery that stole $30,000 and all of your inventory, and they went bankrupt.
So she's gonna have a hard time seeing that. She's very successful within the art establishment model. And as I teach artists, one of two things can often happen. Even if you do find success, one of two things will very often happen to the artist. Number one, they'll fall out of favor. That means another artist who has more marketable work will come along and displace you just like merchandise in a store. It doesn't always sell forever. The other thing that can happen is the gallery can go bankrupt or go out of business or just not honor their terms. The informal statistic on the street is that, since the recession around 2008, about half of the galleries within the United States have closed their doors. It's not a good model to bank on in the long run. That's my perspective. I say that all the time. I wanna hear Lindsey's perspective. So did I describe accurately what happened? Correct me if I'm wrong.
- [Lindsey] Sorry, you totally cut out there.
- Oh, so Lindsey, I just asked if I described what happened to you accurately. When you said that you lost a pretty sizeable chunk of money and inventory. Is that what happened?
- Yes, and the gallery has not officially gone bankrupt. However, they are saying that is what's happening and their house is in foreclosure and all that. So it's what is happening. This has happened actually with seven of the eight galleries that I have been represented by.
- Yeah, so what a lot of artists don't know is that artists, galleries, and gallery owners struggle mightily.
- Yeah, and actually in speaking to a debt collector about the situation what they said was, oh yeah, you know the galleries they rob Paul to pay Peter or however it goes. So even the debt collectors know that this is a common thing.
- Which is sad 'cause it almost gives them permission to steal 'cause essentially that's what they did. They stole. That money never belonged to them, and they've obviously spent it. That inventory that belonged to you, it never belonged to them. You obviously consigned it. It never belonged to them in the first place. It's not like a store that buys inventory, and then they own it. That's not the arrangement. They don't. So I'm sorry to hear that. What I wanna ask you now Lindsey is I want you to think about the lessons that you learned from the experience. What would you say is the number one lesson that you learned from this whole experience?
- So many
- Just whatever pops into your head first.
- Just whatever pops into your head first. Whatever pops into your head first.
- So I think the biggest lesson would be to stand up for myself. I was such a pushover at the beginning, and I allowed this to happen month after month, year after year. And I should have been strong enough to say no more. I'm not giving you anymore art until you pay what you owe. I'm not doing commissions. So I think that's been my biggest growth is just standing up for myself and saying enough is enough.
- Good for you.
- Yeah, I've actually turned down commissions where I've told the galleries that if you want a commission I'm happy to do it as long as my 50% is in my hand before the commission leaves my studio.
- [Lindsey] And I've not had a single commission since then.
- Good for you. So number one, your number one lesson is that you've learned to stand up for yourself and to draw very clear and healthy and specific boundaries around how you do business. That's fantastic. That's something that you
- [Ann] Carry forward now. So what's the second biggest lesson that pops into your head from this experience.
- To have my own contract. I actually called the FBI. A friend of mine suggested that I do that.
- I love it.
- Take a huge chunk, you can hire a lawyer and sue. That costs a lot of money up front but the FBI this is their job. So I called and they gave me some very needed help. Of course, I didn't have any of these things in my contract and the galleries didn't have it in theirs either. So I now know the specific things that need to be written in there. Do you want me to share what they are?
- Yeah, what did the FBI tell you that needs to be in there specifically?
- Okay, so the galleries have their own contract, but an artist can also have their own contract that the gallery signs.
- [Ann] Yes, I pull that all the time
- Yes, you need to have that if you're going this route. What the FBI agent said is what happens when payments are late? How far does it go before you do something? Are you going to charge interest? Are you gonna hire a debt collector or a lawyer? Which direction are you gonna take?
- [Ann] Right. You have to have the terms and the conditions. So you spell out what's gonna happen. If you don't play by the rules, what's gonna happen? What's gonna go down? Very good. What else did they say?
- Do you want to know when paintings sell? When do you want your inventory updates, sales updates? Because I promise you if the galleries are struggling, they're not gonna tell you when your art is selling. And that's what happened with this last gallery. I went almost a year of them telling me nothing's selling, nothing's selling. Then I find out they've sold over $60,000 of art, and I haven't received any of it.
- [Lindsey] Which is you're supporting your family with this.
- [Ann] Yeah, so Lindsey supports so Lindsey's husband takes care of your child. He's a stay-at-home dad, so they not only stole from Lindsey, they stole from her husband and her little girl.
- I think that's when I really stepped up. My momma bear came out. I'm like I have a mortgage. I have food to put on the table for my daughter. Like this is not okay.
- And actually, some of the galleries have gotten personal. If they pay me a small portion of what they owe me then they think that that's enough. To them that same story, I have a mortgage. I have food to put on the table for my daughter. This one gallery owner said, well how much food does your daughter need?
- They've paid me a nice chunk so that
- [Lindsey] It's the moral, it's the value of it. If you owe me this money, pay it, you know.
- [Ann] That's right. Okay. So what I'd like you to do, if you don't mind, would you email me the specifics that the FBI agent suggested you put into your contract? And then we can share that with other artists, so that they can review their contracts and take a look at some of these suggestions. So that's fantastic.
- This number two lesson just sounds like understanding that you have every right, and you should absolutely have a contract. So contracts are not one-way. They have their terms.
- The gallery has their terms and conditions which they have every right to enforce. And you have every right to do the same thing because they don't own your inventory. They don't own anything. So that's great. What's the number three lesson that just kinda pops into your head from this whole experience?
- I think you have to be open-minded because the impression that the only way to become a successful artist was to have gallery representation. I think that's why when I realized I was done in this system that I was so heartbroken. I wasn't considering that there was even an alternative. I say just to be open-minded, and if something doesn't work, there's another road.
- You just have to look for it and listen 'cause the answers are already inside you.
- And trust yourself. Really trust yourself. Stand up for yourself. When I moved to San Francisco to be a full-time artist, shortly after that I actually fired all of the representatives that I worked with. Some because they were dirty, rotten scoundrels like you described. That was one of the reasons. And you know who you are. You're listening. I know you listen to me, you son-of-a-gun. And then, the other reason was just simply because I'd created values so far above and beyond my art that a gallery just wasn't even equipped and an art representative wasn't even equipped to sell the program that I had created which is way more than just paintings.
- [Lindsey] Oh Ann, you're cuttin out again.
- So there's just lots of limitations with the gallery model. They sell very limited value proposition, and you can create much more value for your target market outside of that structure. And that's what I'm hoping that you will be able to create for yourself, Lindsey, by being a student in the Making Art, Making Money semester. That's my intention that you'll be able to create value way above and beyond your art, and you don't have to worry as much about these things. But it does take time to build a business.
- I will.
- Yeah, you will. That's right. Just by the way you said that, you can tell your attitude is really clear, decisive, and positive. That's the best indication that an artist is gonna be successful. You can tell Lindsey is determined. She's had enough of this shit. She's gonna make it right. Getting really pissed off is actually can be a beautiful opening to a whole new way of being, a whole new set of opportunities. So congratulations on getting pissed off, Lindsey. Now, what I'd like you to do is if you could give other artists one piece of parting advice, what would you tell them to do?
- Oh gosh. I say just don't give up. I feel like all artists have this inner fire to create, and if you have that, you have to express it. I heard this saying once that was if the urge to create is ignored is the equivalent to committing a slow suicide.
- No, I relate to that one. If you have the urge to create, and you ignore it, it's like committing a slow suicide. I am proof of that. I almost you know I felt
- I felt that for a long time. So that's fantastic advice. Alright, so that's it for lessons learned by Lindsey. Learn from her lessons. Thank you for being willing to share what you learned. And congratulations and welcome to the Making Art, Making Money semester. I'm really looking forward to I can already see you got a huge warm welcome in the Facebook group, so that's nice.
- [Lindsey] You're cuttin out again, Ann. Sorry. Thank you so much if you can hear me.
- That's all right. Anyway, what I just said was I wanted to congratulate you by learning these lessons, and I wanted to just say it seems like you just got a really big, warm welcome the other day in the Making Art, Making Money
- Yep, totally.
- semester Facebook group. Great, thank you so much.
- I'm so excited.
- Take care. Bye.
- [Lindsey] Thanks Ann.
"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
WHERE TO START TO SELL YOUR ART
"Learn The 8-Part Road Map that I used to sell $103,246 of my art during my first year as an unknown artist, without feeling like a sell-out"
- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor