Skip to toolbar

Possible "gallery" show

Forums Forums Farktography General Chat The Gallery Possible "gallery" show

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Author
  • #2218

    I live in a tiny town on the Oregon coast. We don’t have a whole lot of culture but since we depend on tourism to survive we do have just a bit. I showed some of my photos to a couple places in town that display artwork and one is interested, but I’ve never done anything public/commercial like this and wonder if any of you who have could give me tips.

    The place in question is a wine bar. They have a revolving display of artists, usually 2 at a time for 2 month periods. They have an opening night party which ties into the downtown artwalk event. After the 2 months is up the works are generally sold off. I’m happy just to get my work out there, but as a starving artist making a living playing poker during this new great depression, I’m also happy at the prospect of making a little dough.

    The owner had a few questions for me and here’s where I’d like your input. I imagine I’ll end up asking him how previous people showed and priced theirs, but how would you answer his questions?

    what would your prices be?
    what size would the prints be?
    are they framed?
    will they be limited prints?

    The photos they’re interested in are in this flikr set:


    harpo, I’ve never done anything professionally (or even an amateur show, for that matter), so I can’t offer you any advice. I just wanted to say congrats on the opportunity. How exciting! And word of mouth is usually pretty effective in small towns, so who knows what could come of it…


    Likewise a huge congrats from me.

    On actual price and size, I have no idea.

    On the other 2:
    Framed – more effort and cost, but more attractive to buyers (added justification to spend), especially if the frame really suits the shot.
    Limited edition – absolutely ! same reason as above. “1 of 10” and your signature on the passepartout adds value.


    That’s fantastic news! I’ve been a fan of your photo style for a long time, so I’m glad to hear other people “get it” too. No idea on price, but I agree that framed would be better if you can afford the up front cost. But if the model is like a consignment shop, meaning you get back what doesn’t sell, you might not recover the cost of the framing.

    But definitely limit the run and sign them in some way. If you provide a fact sheet with details about the shot, which you could attach to the back of the frame, that might appeal to people as well.

    Oh and definitely congrats!


    pricing is what the market will bear. you know better than us.

    size — my sister, who is on the board of a gallery in socal, told me over christmas that big borders were in. so an 8×10 matted into an 11×14 frame would work. keep in mind both the viewing distance at your show and where the buyers will display it.

    framed– yes definitely. in my experience (limited as it is) buyers want a piece they can take home and hang. it is the rare buyer who has the perfect frame at home and needs a picture for it. or wants to hunt for that frame.

    i’m going to go against the grain here and say just the one print. signed. unless you really expect some demand for additional prints in which case maybe ten. again signed. unique art has more value.

    and congrats on the showing.


    i’m going to go against the grain here and say just the one print. signed. unless you really expect some demand for additional prints in which case maybe ten. again signed. unique art has more value..

    I agree with this statement since I consider “only print this pic once” a limited release. If you can stomach the idea of never using the image again once the person buys it, that’s ideal. If that’s too strict for you, which I can understand, then a limited run of 5, 10, 20, whatever number you can live with, seems like the best option.


    what would your prices be?
    what size would the prints be?
    are they framed?
    will they be limited prints?

    Awesome! Congrats! They are amazing shots! As to pricing, the questions above set your answers.

    Start with size, large is more expensive all the way around. The size of the print is relative to the how big the print CAN be before losing resolution. Also, how large is the gallery space. It wouldn’t work to print 18x20s if they only have space for 8×10. Also take into account your aspect ration of the print and whether the shot can be cropped to fit a standard frame.

    Framed: Definitely, framing is as much a part of the show as the print itself. Your shots are all low key suggesting a simple framing motif of base black or brushed steel. As Curious said a large matte seems to be very in of late (at least in the gallery shows in NYC) so make sure you matting fits with the motif of the print and frame. None of this is cheap and if you are custom framing it went from “not cheap” to “oh my god!”

    Limited Edition vs Single Prints: This is where you really make your call on price. Either way, you are taking a print out of circulation and revenue potential. Single Prints should take into account the revenue generating potential of that shot forever: if you EVER even thought of selling that photo in ANY other format, then your price must reflect that. Limited Edition prints allow a bit more flexibility in pricing as you can set the amount high enough to leave you a little wiggle room in the future. The price should be high to make up for any extended right use in the future (ie greeting cards, calendars, stock photo ect.)

    Taking all of that into account it’s time for some math:

    Costs=Printing, matting and framing (plus film processing is applicable) and time involved (pay yourself a reasonable rate for the time you spend working on this. If you work an hourly job to keep the bills paid I would AT LEAST pay myself my hourly wage to recompense the time I spend working on this)

    Profit=I would go anywhere from 2 to 5 times costs and then base it on the market. If I was showing in a SoHo Gallery (HAH! That’s funny!) then I would make my mark up 4 or 5 times my cost because the market will pay that in NYC. In your case, with a small market I would lean conservative but still pay yourself what your time and effort is worth! Don’t undersell you creative work because you don’t have confidence in yourself!

    No matter what, you should cover your costs. The more you put in the more you can reasonably expect to get back. I know the opportunity to land a gallery showing would make me start thinking “Gee, the exposure is worth the expense, so even if I don’t make my money back now I will in the future…” and that is flawed thinking. If you lose money on this you are defeating the purpose of the showing. It’s hard! Try to get in touch with previous artists and see what their expenses were at least, some may be leery of talking sales and profit with you, but you can hope they will give you some idea of what you are facing price wise. I would ask the gallery if they are willing to take a percentage of costs for a percentage of profits, it take some of the weight off you and gives them incentive to market you work. In a situation like yours where they are using the art to drive their sales of other goods they are total win/win it cost them nothing for wall space and there is no risk if you don’t sell anything: ask if they will offset, the worst they can tell you is no.

    I’ve spent the last year digesting books and websites on how to price my work and this is a distillation of a LOT of information. It represents my personal plan for pricing my work. YMMV 😀


    A lot of the galleries around here seem to be going for matting only, and that’s the direction Kat and I are taking with our stuff. If you do a hinged mat, the photos are pretty well protected, and can be hung for temporary display. Plus, you can reduce your costs and adjust your pricing accordingly… The frame is going to be the single most expensive part, and it can also be the most difficult to choose, because it has to work both with the photo, and with the location it’s hung in. A lot of the framing debate I’ve been reading has to do with this latter dilemma.

    Some of our decision was also driven by shipping costs though – just the packaging for a shipping a framed print can cost as much as you’re likely to sell a print for. The web numbers I’ve seen – for an unknown artist, an 11×14 can go anywhere from $40-$100 for just the photo (and that also jives with what I’ve seen at the local art walks). LE’s are 1.5x to 2x that range. ‘Named’ artists tend to go for $150-$350 matted but not framed in the galleries here. If you’re going to go to Aaron Brothers or wherever to have that photo matted and framed, figure on that much in cost, and shipping that framed print is going to cost you that again between packaging and shipping costs.

    Something else to consider, if you’re going to get serious – with a $100 mat cutter and some practice, you can do your own professional-quality matting at home for a fraction of the cost. Mine has more than paid for itself by putting our stuff up at home, alone.

    But as far as which way to go, you may want to wander around some of the local galleries and see what the trend in your are is. I suspect it varies from region to region.

    //and congrats harpo, and good luck!


    Wow, thanks for all the kind words and advice. Lots of good stuff.

    My first thought was to frame them for sure. More attractive to buyers as Uranus says. But you make a good point too olavf. With just matting the buyer would have a lot more flexibility. And, having ordered frames by mail before, I know how much that can cost. But Curious has a good point too. I could see going either way – I think I’ll have to ask what previous artists have done.

    The location in question does have lots and lots of wall space so I think something like 18×20 will be appropriate. At that size I think not having a frame would look wrong – what do you think olavf?

    Thanks for taking the time to distill all your research ennuipoet. Your guide to coming up with prices makes a lot of sense.

    I think limited runs are the way to go. It’s a funny concept though since all my pics are on flikr for free if you know where to look. I guess it’s the signature and numbering that give them value? And I like Choc-Ful-A’s idea of a fact sheet on back. These are some of my favorite pics. The mushrooms are hanging on my wall at home. So I’d hate to lose the ability to use them in the future, but I guess that’s how it works.

    Big borders are in! That’s one thing I know for sure anyway.

    The next step is to go look at the space again and talk to the owner about previous works. You guys have given me more than enough ammo to be able to do that without sounding like a fool. Thanks!


    Having covered two walls of our house with pictures, I’d say that 16×20 (frame size) is the largest I’d go. Once you get larger than that, it can start to overwhelm many spaces, and I think you’ll start limiting the portion of the audience that has their checkbook handy. Also, if you’re putting up five prints it can feel crowded depending on the space you’re working with. My house is done in the ‘salon style’ where things are crowded and grouped with the idea that everywhere you look there’s something interesting, but that doesn’t showcase the individual pieces too well. 11×14’s could work too, but given the space and size, probably not.

    My gut feeling on framed/not framed – around here – is that many of the galleries have un-framed prints but many of the non-galleries that showcase artists tend to have framed prints. I don’t know is that’s a preference on the case of the artists, the locations, the potential patrons, or all three though. My gut tells me that in the case of the galleries, the frames can distract from the art, whereas in the case of the local restaurant or book store, people are more likely to imagine the work in their homes – if you can follow my logic on that.

    Most LEs, by the way are generally limited in a single size, from what I’ve seen out here. So, you may do a LE run of 16x20s, but not in other sizes. Or, have a different LE run in a different size. It might help to be clear on that, but that seems to be the norm. Another thing to consider is getting handful of ‘artist cards’ that can be left out with some contact info on them, if the place is amenable. That way people can get in touch with you for other works, possibly other hangings, different sizes, etc.


    Just wanted to offer my congratulations, and point out that it’s not Art unless it’s got naked women in it…

    The Farkers’ definition of Art

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.