Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Submitting your Jewellery to Galleries

Selling jewellery in today's market can be very difficult. I've sold my lampwork beads on my website for many years, and found that keeping my website constantly changing and staying in contact with my customers resulted in steady sales. Although I've been making jewellery for quite some years I have only just now decided to endeavour to market my creations. The price of my work is more at the mid to higher range, and although I have built a website showcasing my jewellery I don't believe it is the best marketing tool for my specific product.

I have successfully submitted pieces to exhibitions/competitions in the United States to hopefully provide my work with some exposure. The reason I have focused on the United States is simply because I haven't found the opportunities to be present in Australia. However, I am now putting my focus on submitting work to Australian galleries. My goal is to have some of my pieces displayed in each State and Territory. As there are only 6 States and 2 Territories in Australia, I don't think my goal is an unreachable one.

I don't confess in having a great deal of experience in gallery submissions, as I only began travelling down this path in April, but I have certainly learnt a few lessons along the way. Of course they were learnt by the mistakes I have made, but isn't that the best way to learn?

  • Choose a gallery which already carries jewellery
  • If you just select a gallery without first checking to see what forms of art it supports, you could be wasting your time and effort to submit your work. I found a good source of appropriate galleries was to look in an art magazine with advertising of exhibitions currently showing at various galleries. Where a jewellery exhibition was being launched would be a gallery to approach.

  • Submit a quality photograph
  • You need the receiver of your submission to respond with a 'wow' when they first see your image. Obviously the jewellery needs to be well made and desirable, but no matter how wonderful a piece is if it has not been photographed well, the appeal can easily be lost. If you feel you do not have the photographic skills needed, then I would highly recommend to have your collection professionally photographed. I have been through this process with many of my best pieces, and it is was definitely worth the cost, and you will always have the images on file to utilise over and over again. I have a full photo and detail taken of each piece, and include both of these in my submission.

  • Submit more than one piece
  • You will find if you only submit one piece of work, if it is accepted then generally the gallery will request more, so as to save them the work of a further request, be prepared and send them a few images (4 to 6 images).

  • Include your pricing
  • This is something I have omitted from my submissions but will be including in future proposals. The reason I suggest including this is that I had one gallery that felt my pieces would be too expensive for her customers before she asked about my pricing. This has prompted me to add a wider range of pieces, including my top of the range and a few less expensive mid range pieces with the prices so as they can decide immediately if my jewellery would be a saleable item in their gallery. Make certain to have the price clearly stated as 'artist's price' so they are aware it is before their commission is added. Generally speaking, I have found galleries add between 30% to 50% commission.

  • Do not submit to more than one gallery in the same City
  • In my limited experience, I have found that if your work is accepted you may be requested to sign a contract stating that you will not show your work in another gallery in that City. This could be a problem if you have already submitted to other galleries in the same area. I would suggest to make one submission only, if that submission is not accepted then feel free to approach another gallery in that area.

  • Add a short bio
  • Let them know a little about yourself and also list any exhibitions/competitions you have participated in. Do make this information cover just a short paragraph.

  • Be very patient
  • I have found the galleries processing of artists submissions is a very long one! I was devastated when I emailed my first 5 submissions off and a month later still had no response. I made a phone call to each one only to be told by some that it would take another 4 weeks whilst others remarked it would be done when they had the time. They definitely don't rush these decisions and do not consider making an artist wait for a few months or more, a problem.

When I receive a rejection, I immediately re-submit my piece to another gallery in that City, it's important to keep the ball rolling. I still have a way to go to reach my goal, but am excited that my pieces are finally being viewed by the public 'in the flesh', and am quite confident that by the end of the year I will have a presence in each State and reach my goal!

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