I’ve been blogging a lot for artists lately, but I’d like to dedicate the next few blog posts to galleries. This information is still incredibly useful to artists though. I think it’s important to understand how the other side is thinking and what their priorities are.
In my 14 years working at art galleries, I’ve done artist statements many different ways but I’ve finally come up with a Statement that is the most concise and easy to understand from both a gallery and an artist perspective. The rule I follow is that the SALE and PAYMENT of the work(s) dictates the creation of the Artist Statement. What that means is that a gallery invoices a collector for a work or a group of works and once that collector pays the invoice then the gallery generates an Artist Statement which states the amount owed to the artist on the sale of their work(s).
As I’ve explained in previous posts, an Artist Statement is what every artist should receive from a gallery every time they receive a payment. The payment should tie to the amount on the statement and should list the following key items:
1. Date of the Statement
2. Statement number (like an invoice number it should be a way for both the gallery and the artist to identify that particular statement)
3. Invoice number (every time a gallery receives a payment from a collector for an invoice, an Artist Statement should be created, so it makes sense that the Artist Statement would reference that Invoice number)
4. Artist Name and Address
5. Artwork Details
6. Artwork Image
7. Retail Price
9. Sales Price
11. Total Due to Artist
12. Total Paid to Artist
13. Name of Collection, City, State, Country
Artists, if you receive payment from your gallery, you should demand an Artist Statement detailing everything on the list above. Then you should put this information into whatever database system you are using so that you can easily keep track of the sold work that you’ve been paid for. This is KEY. Otherwise you will have a very hard time staying on top of what you are still owed.
Please do not rely on a gallery to stay on top of this for you. I’ve worked for a lot of honest galleries, and I’m a pretty responsible and thorough person, but I have forgotten to pay artists before.
Galleries, here is a sample Artist Statement for you to use as a template, if you don’t already have something. The key that I discovered over the years is not to pack too much into one Artist Statement. That’s why I follow the rule one Invoice = one Artist Statement. If you put more than one invoice into an Artist Statement, it is way too easy to make mistakes and typically artists don’t have the time or the energy to look at a multiple page document. I know some galleries like to just add up all the payments and send one giant statement every three months, but I’m telling you from an artist’s perspective, they aren’t looking at this document. It goes in a pile in their studio. So if you actually want your artists to understand what’s going on with the money they are receiving, keep it as comprehensible as possible. One Invoice = One Artist Statement = Comprehensible.
Please let me know if you have any Questions or Comments!!