search  current discussion  categories  business - sales & marketing 

50/50 split on consignment - uk perspective - long

updated mon 31 dec 01


Richard Jeffery on sun 30 dec 01

My perspective in Uk is similar. Sale or return - as it is called - tends
to operate at about 65:35 up to 55:45. It goes way above that in London, of
course - which seriously distorts prices.

However, the only viable alternative to that or wholesale (rare, unless you
have sufficient national standing to command it) is the craft shows - which
with few exceptions are dire. nevertheless, the cost of doing them
(including expenses, downtime, other cost of sales) comes to about the same
30% or so. I have the same prices through galleries as I do if I sell
direct - anything else seems unprofessional to me - unfair to gallery
owners, and confusing to the customer.

we've tried direct sales - but if you live in the dull suburbs of a dull
town that does not do much to support the visual arts, it is very hard work.
we've tried Xmas shows in the past, but it doesn't warrant the work and the
upheaval. If you live out in the splendid countryside outside Bournemouth,
then maybe it would. The coastline here has just one world heritage
status - can't remember the exact term, but it's the same as the Grand
Canyon (the status, not the cliffs...).

we do open once every 2 years - the Dorset Art Weeks event is one of the
best open studio events of its kind, and attracts over 40,000 visitors. We
all benefit then from the bulk publicity, and the idea that folk can spend a
day or so travelling from studio to studio. Of course, we're also all
competing.... I'm involved in setting this up for 2002, so my comments
about Bournemouth's support for the visual arts are not unfounded. At least
they have spoken to us this year - first time in the event's 10 year

[if anyone out there is planning to be around south/south west England in
late May 2002, you're in for a treat. Over 300 venues, 450 artists,
national and regional names through to community arts projects. I won't be
refurbishing the website until January, when I get access to the images, but
if you want a look at what 2000 was like, try

otherwise, open studio events can be made to work here, but it helps if
either you are a national name, or if there is a group of folk in the same

so - consignment does work for me, at least for the moment, given the
choices I have. what I do expect in return - and take my work away if I
don't get it - is active selling and sympathetic promotion, insured
protection, good bookkeeping and communication, and regular and transparent
payment methods.

If I ever get to live out in the sticks (and a cottage with outbuildings for
workshop space would start at about 200,000 here), then I would do more to
tie into local tourist trails and sell direct. in suburban Bournemouth it
isn't a choice.

the bit about mailing lists is spot on though.....

-----Original Message-----
From: Ceramic Arts Discussion List [mailto:CLAYART@LSV.CERAMICS.ORG]On
Behalf Of Marie Gibbons
Sent: 30 December 2001 02:38
Subject: Re: 50/50 split on consignment

Anji makes good sense with what she is saying... however, when trying to
wholesale works I think this is more of a possibility if your doing
functional wares. I have never had much luck wholesaling one of a kind
sculpture work.
So for me this means making as good a choice as i can... looking into a
gallery, talking to other artists who have dealt with that gallery, visiting
often while you have work there. If it is out of town, I try to have pre
determined times that the work is there, ie 3 months and then the work is
back to me. We all have to just be smart about what we do, and not feel
we should jump and show work anywhere that asks... we are doing them a favor
by fronting work out to fill their space, however they are also doing us a
favor by showing our work, paying rent on a space, staffing the gallery with
hopefully caring and knowledgable employees, paying the electric bill,
etc.... giving us time to create.
marie gibbons

marie gibbons

Send postings to

You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
settings from

Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at