If you’ve never sold wholesale before, and the thought of asking a gallery to represent your work sounds akin to dental surgery with no anesthetic, you are not alone. We all have strong feelings of vulnerability when it comes to our art. Keep in mind that it is free to ask, and that a gallery buyer will make a business decision, not a personal decision, regarding your work. Take a notebook with you to your presentation, and record all feedback, positive and negative. It helps to keep accurate notes on what each gallery is looking for. Both rejections and acceptances are valuable learning tools.
The best way to begin is locally. Make visits to all your area’s galleries. Don’t introduce yourself as an artist at first- just look around at price points, style, and the amount of work in your media. Make notes.
When your gallery tour is complete, eliminate the galleries that are obviously not a good fit for you. Then rate the rest- first pick, second pick, etc. Remember that galleries in a mid sized town will want exclusive representation for that city, so if your work is in one, the rest will not want you. In a large city, the exclusivity is by neighborhood. Approach your first pick and get a reply from them before moving down the list.
Next, call the gallery, and ask to speak to the buyer, or get contact info for the buyer. Call or email that person. Ask if they are willing to view some images of your work, and tell her the name on your email account. Most people are reluctant to open images from unknown sources. If this is okay, email 3-5 images with info on the pieces, including wholesale price, size, name of collection.
Follow up in a few days with a phone call if you don’t hear back, to make sure that your images arrived. If the buyer likes your images, ask for an appointment to show your portfolio in person, even if they are not buying in your media at this time. Let the gallery buyer know that you are willing to make a presentation anyway, and that you value her opinions and insights. I can’t tell you how many sales I’ve made to galleries who said they were not buying at that time! Buyers are generally very cautious with money, but will spend for something they are excited about.
Next Wednesday I will cover how to make a successful in person presentation. I am happy to help you succeed at wholesale marketing to galleries, so ask me anything and I’ll reply in the comments.
Lee Wolfe/ OneClayBead