I've just looked at the cost of all my shows over the last four years and the amount of work I sold at each. Some of them were little local shows not much better than jumble sales, some were specialist ceramics fairs and some were large mixed media shows.
|Cecilia Colman Callery, St John's Wood, London|
I've spoken to a lot of craftspeople who prefer direct selling to selling in galleries. They'd rather stand at a stall for a weekend than pay commission to a gallery. I take a different view. I resent paying a lot for a stall when there's no guarantee anyone will buy my work and no guarantee that the organiser will attract the right people. In addition there are travel and accommodation costs. Some craft shows in expensive locations with huge stall fees aren't properly promoted - fortunately I've never got involved in those. A gallery owner, by contrast, has a personal interest in my work. If they don't promote it, they don't make any money. My interests and the gallery owner's interests are the same. At the moment, about half my sales are direct, mainly through craft fairs, and half are through galleries, but the cost of the fairs (fees, commission, travel and accommodation) is three quarters of sales, while the cost of selling through galleries is only a quarter.
There's another good reason for exhibiting in galleries. I'm an artist, not a shopkeeper. A show usually takes me out of my studio for three or four days. I'd much rather pay an experienced gallery owner to do what they're good at and stick to what I'm good at. I'm a great fan of galleries but not a great fan of craft fairs.
Subscribe to my newsletter