Consignment Lessons

Pencil Sketch of a statue on La Segrada Familia in Barcelona.  Artist unknown.

Pencil Sketch of a statue on La Segrada Familia in Barcelona.  Artist unknown.

I recently consigned a set of work to a local gallery. They were beautiful original watercolors of Paris buildings.  Pricing on these things seemed a little tricky to me for their setting. I asked the to set a fair price for their shop.  They sell high end works and figured they would want to maximize their returns as well.  Their consignment rate was an astounding 50%!  I knew that I wanted to run a consignment style gallery, though, and needed to see how this went for myself.

The items sold very quickly. They had priced them at a rock-bottom $38 each, less than the price of a framed print at a box store. When they handed me the check, I just about vomited. I honestly almost cried. The effort I put into building the frames from scratch felt like it was worth more than $38. One remained unsold and I took it with me.  It is the beautiful sketch you see here.  

I learned a very important set of lessons here.  First, a 50% consignment rate for an artists' work is never right.  I have to make this work for less.  Second, I will never sell an artist's work without fully comprehending the value the artist sees in their work. I have an MBA and I understand things like supply and demand. I understand pricing strategies and sales. So we are going to have to be partners on this to match what the market will bear and what the artists can deliver.