or: How to earn more as an artist and pay less as a collector...

   In the last years a lot of online art galleries came into business, some of them offsprings of well known art galleries. They are giving the artists the opportunity to present their works to a broader audience and sell them online. Is this a good way for an artist to sell his work? And is it a good way for collectors too? To check this out I, together with a friend in Moscow, Russia, started some kind of „experiment“, just to learn about the procedure. Here are the conclusions...

  I offered one of my pictures (a small one) on a well-known online gallery (they call themselves „The World‘s Leading Online Art Gallery“) and priced it at $100.00 (out of a certain reason as you will see later). My friend in Moscow purchased it online in the middle of December. And now the „adventure“ begins...

   To the $100.00 was added the shipping costs of $35.00 (which is ok, I shipped some picts to Moscow earlier for this price too). But then the surprise: The final sum was $218,13. How so? The gallery added „custom charges“ of $83,13 to the invoice. Now thats interesting as we already know that in Russia all goods worth up to $100 are free of custom charges. Also we inquired about this charges we got no reasonable explanation and my friend‘s credit card was charged with the full sum immediately after ordering.

  The rest of the story is more about the „handling skills“ of the gallery. They completely forgot to order the courier for the first appointed day (and I was waiting the whole day as they didn‘t inform me), where able to make a new appointment for pick-up only about a month later. And there was the next surprise: The shipping address in London? Why? No explanation again, just some flimsy excuses about „having problems to ship to Russia directly“ etc. So it took until the first week of February when finally the picture arrived at its destination in Russia (usually, as I know from previous shippings, it takes less then 24 hours).

Oh, and I almost forgot: The gallery is taking 30% commission from the artist.

So here is the final conclusion:
  • An artwork offered for $100,00 finally cost $218,13
  • The artist gets $70,00.
  • The collector is finally paying twice the asked price.
  • And due to the „professional“ handling of the gallery the whole procedure took two month (or even longer for the artist because I got my money finally in the end of February).

So my advice for (fellow) artists: Set up your own online-shop. You for sure can handle it much better then this „professionals“.

And for collectors: Contact the artist directly (you can find the contact details on artist‘s page of  this „Online Galleries“ ;-)). Its cheaper, faster - and you are in contact with the artist himself...