Susan Hubele on thu 30 nov 00
I believe it was Tony Clennell who recently
visited my area, on the eastern slopes of the
Rockies between Calgary and Banff.
He said he kept thinking what a great place to set
up a studio. Well, that got me thinking about an
idea that's been in my head for some time now.
Why not set up a pottery/sculpture gallery in the
large room next to my studio which is on the lower
level of my home? I live right on a highway in a
small town (Cochrane, Alberta) located in a major
In addition to being a showcase for my own work
(horses and architectural sculpture), I also know
lots of ceramic artists who do great work and have
a hard time finding suitable sales outlets. This
would be the only shop dedicated exclusively to
pottery/ceramics in my area.
Does anyone have direct experience with such a
concept? I would appreciate any feedback with
advice, cautions, support for this idea.
Thanks in advance...
Canada T4C 1A9
T: (403) 932.2470
F: (403) 932.9233
View Susan's ceramic art: http://www.foff.com
ARTISTINSC@AOL.COM on thu 30 nov 00
look at your homeowner's policy.
get liability insurance.
make it clear you do not have much cash on hand
set hours clearly
keep regular hours
consider a security system
Janet Kaiser on fri 1 dec 00
Ooooophf, Susan! This is one of those "where to
begin?" questions! There are several on this
list who are active makers and gallery owners.
They will also be able to help you. This is just
my take as a 100% full-time gallerist:
It is one thing being an artist/maker/potter,
but to open your studio as a gallery will be a
huge undertaking, as I am sure you realise.
Would it be
a seasonal thing, or all year round?
Before you even start, you must first decide if
you can AFFORD THE TIME. However many or few you
have, customers take up a great deal of time,
believe me. They want to be entertained and
courted... They also have the discouraging
tendency to arrive at the most inconvenient
moment. Could you drop everything at any time,
during the day without it affecting your work?
Can you deal
with that on a daily basis? Are your personal
and selling skills well honed?
Are you also willing to be available all day and
every day? With a buying public who are "just
passing through" a couple of hours per week or
per day is not going to be enough. Would you be
content with not being able to leave the studio
at any time during the day? If the majority of
your prospective customers are stop-overs at
motels and hotels, would you be able to be
available evenings too?
How are you fixed on accountancy skills? Each
exhibiting artist will need an on-going account.
You will have to do the banking and deal with
credit cards, etc. The accounts and money side
of things will take an average of an hour per
day in a moderately busy gallery. "The Books"
are a vital part of any business and must be
updated daily. The end-of-month settling of
accounts will take a full day on top.
Annual tax returns are another red letter day.
If becoming a gallery affects your tax status
along with local levies (we have "Business
Rates" in the UK) it is something you will have
to take into consideration. The difference
between workshop and gallery for us is around
£2,000 p.a. for business rates alone. That is a
set amount before you even sell a post card!
Heating and lighting an extra space also adds to
your primary costs. Promotion etc. will be your
responsibility. All the reason for charging
commission on work you exhibit. Which leads to
the next thought:
Will your friendship with fellow artists and
"suppliers" survive, unaffected by being set
onto a commercial basis? You will suddenly
change status from fellow artist to a gallery.
Can you cope with that psychological border
crossing? I have learned by experience that I
was totally unprepared for the change in
attitude towards me. I am no longer considered a
fellow artist or maker by many. Of course I do
not have the time to be an active artist,
because it is all taken up with promoting them
and their work! It is a vicious circle. I know
several artists who gave up being gallery owners
for this reason alone. They could not stand the
pressure (sometimes quite unconscious) from
their former colleagues and mates. In other
words, they were not thick-skinned enough. I
would not be if I did not have the 100% support
of Eckhard. Both mental or psychological and
physical or practical support... Which raises
another query you must ask yourself:
Do you have a supportive household? Could they
be allocated all the tasks, which you currently
juggle? Would the projected
volume of trade allow for extra paid help both
in the gallery and the home? Eckhard and I have
a division of labour. He does all the
accountancy, manual work (from changing
exhibitions to cleaning) and is the main
security man on the job most of the day. I do
the other admin, the promotion, the
organisation, the paperwork, the organisation,
the talking and selling, etc. etc. I have to be
physically on the job all opening hours (10 to
6, Tuesday through Sunday). We have about six
volunteers who come to keep an eye on the
gallery for 2 to 4 hours a week each, which only
allows Eckhard to get away for an hour or two
now and then. Quick trips to the barber's, to
tank petrol, do shopping, banking, etc.
Then there is home life and recreation. We eat
and sleep at home, but otherwise we are in the
gallery from dawn to dusk. Recreation and
holidays? Our last holiday was in 1993. I cannot
remember the last day out or evening spent
enjoying ourselves! Oh! Yes, I do... July 4th.
when Clay Arter, DeLana Hornbeck and her
daughter, Beth visited!! Then again when my
cousin visited from New Zealand in August... In
other words, we only get out and about when our
duties as hosts force us to. We do not have the
time or the energy for those "Let's go and
visit" or "Let's go and see" moments.
When we first started up, we had to survive a
year without any income. Will your insurance,
overheads, etc. increase substantially? Will you
be able to cope with these increases before you
are earning any money from the change? We still
only make ends meet after six years of hard
slog... We have only made it because we do not
have an expensive life style.
Even thinking about it makes me more weary! My
18-hour working day is 10:00 to 03:00 or so, all
year round. The gallery is currently closed, so
I can sleep-in longer, but the work goes on...
Preparing for the next exhibition year.
I know I could not do the job I do, if I were
also an active artist or potter. It would be
physically and mentally impossible. Those I know
who wear both hats have a huge "back up system".
Parents, children, spouses, all helping.
Usually a partner and at least one grown child
or employee is a minimum. If the extra income
generated would support this, then there is no
reason not to go for it 100%. If you are on your
own, I would energetically advise you to forget
the whole idea... All those friends who would
"love to help" seem to slip away over the months
and years... The tedium of every day gallery
work is extremely tedious and needs a lot of
dedication. It is frustrating for creative
people... You just cannot forget what you could
be doing, if you were in your studio right now
and not talking to this guy who wants to sell
you the new line of "winking, blinking sea-side
And sadly, it is those postcards 99% of the
public would prefer to the high quality ceramics
and art on show!! Tourists want momentoes and
reminders of their holiday, not fine art. If you
put Canadian Mounties on your horses, fine. We
should have ceramic Criccieth Castles... At
least we would be able to depend on a secure
income if we did.
Must stop! I have been carried away again! Just
be prepared for all this and more! Sort out a
business plan and then take a long hard honest
look at all that would entail.
The Chapel of Art . Capel Celfyddyd
HOME OF THE INTERNATIONAL POTTERS' PATH
Criccieth LL52 0EA, GB-Wales Tel: (01766) 523570
----- Original Message -----
> snip <
> Well, that got me thinking about an idea
that's been in my head for some time now.
> Why not set up a pottery/sculpture gallery in
> large room next to my studio which is on the
> level of my home? I live right on a highway in
> small town (Cochrane, Alberta) located in a
> tourist corridor.
> In addition to being a showcase for my own
> (horses and architectural sculpture), I also
> lots of ceramic artists who do great work and
> a hard time finding suitable sales outlets.
> would be the only shop dedicated exclusively
> pottery/ceramics in my area.
> Does anyone have direct experience with such a
> concept? I would appreciate any feedback with
> advice, cautions, support for this idea.