I would like to take a moment to encourage you to do this for the paintings you have in your studio or in your home. Don't forget to document the ones you may have in storage. I realize that doing this sort of paperwork isn't fun and it takes time but it is part of running a business. If you ever have to make an insurance claim because of something that happens at your home or your studio, this paperwork will help establish "fair market value" for your art. Simple spreadsheets are easy to create on personal computers and once your lists are set up, you only need to update them occasionally - for example when sales have been made or when you get paintings back from a gallery. As a bonus, it helps you keep track of your art. If a show comes along that you would like to participate in and you are wondering if you have enough paintings in house to use, you just need to check your inventory lists.
Galleries should have a standard contract form that they work with. Don't be surprised if restaurants, cafes, and even visual arts galleries do not. They may have a simple consignment agreement but don't hesitate to use a better form if necessary. I created my own contract which can be adjusted for different situations. I print two copies off and if the management isn't using a form that I think is sufficient, then I ask that we use mine.
Some things you should consider having spelled out in writing:
- details of insurance coverage
- the work that has been selected for exhibition (you can refer to your attached inventory list)
- prices set for your art (can also be detailed on your inventory list)
- shipping (if required, who pays)
- the dates of the contract - length of time your work will be exhibited
- advertising - what form will this take
- notification of sales
- exclusivity - note that higher end galleries may wish for you to sign an exclusivity agreement which would prohibit you from exhibiting elsewhere
- frequency of exhibitions
- framing - some galleries insist on framing your work - often this framing is expensive and you may be expected to share the costs
- installation details
- exhibition catalogues/flyers/website
- Timing of payments
- buyer info (I request info on the buyer, specifically their name and address. I mail out a buyer's package to each person who buys a painting. Note that some businesses may not wish to collect or pass on this info.)
- Permission agreement (You might want a clause from the gallery that requires them to obtain consent from you before your work can be photographed or reproduced for any purpose. This helps to protect your copyright.)
- Termination of contract (Under what conditions do the two parties have the right to prematurely end the contract?)
So that's it...some basic info on getting into galleries. I hope these posts have given you some information that you found helpful. Exhibiting your art in a gallery is quite exciting. Don't get discouraged by all of these details. Take your time, go gallery hopping, ask questions and do some additional reading or research if you wish. If for whatever reason you decide not to pursue galleries, don't despair, there are other ways to get your art before the public. You can participate in art fairs, group shows (art clubs and other art associations usually put on shows), you can look into selling your art on the internet etc. Do what is best for you at this stage of your artistic journey.