A SECOND gallery has asked me to sign an agreement saying they are not responsible for stolen or damaged work. I said no to the first one, and they’ve stopped inviting me to show. Now another one is asking, and I think other artists I know are going along with this because I see their work in these galleries. I’ve talked to one gallery owner I know and trust who says I should absolutely NOT sign such an agreement, but it looks like some galleries are trying to start a new trend that protects them and not us.
On the other hand, I do understand how hard it is for galleries to stay afloat these days!! What do (or would) you guys do in these circumstances? To be honest, sometimes I just drop off originals and prints with galleries I know well, because I trust them. And I’ve sometimes shrugged off the loss of an inexpensive print. Are galleries now saying that because we sometimes do this, they are entitled to ASK us in writing to do it all the time?
What about compromise, such as a gallery covering only the production cost of a print or 30% of the retail price of a stolen or damaged original? I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot, but at the same time I feel for gallery owners right now. If it were not for them, we wouldn’t have brick-and-mortal venues. If you think I’m being a wuss to even suggest the idea of compromise, TELL ME!
BTW, this same (second) gallery is also asking me not to sell the prints I sell with them through any other LA galleries. 🙁
I have had a friend tell me this happened with Sugar Mynt Gallery. I wonder if it is a new business model. I would ask what happened to make them take this stance. Is it a high probability for theft, a lot of items being damaged in gallery, stuff going missing in mail and so on? At least you would know what you are waiving my signing the agreement. That is what I would do before I signed. It would def. make me want to send a smaller piece so my possible loss wouldn’t be that big.
The first gallery that asked me to sign a no-responsibility contract WAS SugarMynt. It was for a Michael Myers show. I’d already done the work by the time I realized it was in the contract, so I said I could participate in the one show but not future shows if they couldn’t take responsibility for my work while it was in their possession. I haven’t been invited back. The second one does insure original art; they are asking me to sign a contract saying they can’t take responsibility for missing or damaged merchandise, like prints. They also prefer exclusivity with the merch in their store. It was in the contact, though when I asked about it they said it was just a suggestion. I proposed doing exclusive pieces/prints just for them if l they could insure both originals and merch. I have not heard back. Now, truth be told, I tend for be forgiving if one or two prints can’t be found or a frame gets dinged up in storage. Sometimes I just drop things off with galleries I trust. But to ask me to sign something like this means they take NO responsibility, They said prints are the least likely to get stolen, but to me that’s not the point. The point is that they are asking ME to gamble, while they don’t have to. One or two people I know who sell lots of prints say that “sadly, this is what a lot of stores do,” but most galleries I work with would take responsibility. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be understanding of the gallery’s position and how expensive insurance is. We could carry our own insurance…though this still lets them off the hook and keeps us entirely on, for both the responsibility and the cost. But this kind of contract means the law in entirely on their side and not on ours. If a gallery carries insurance and things go missing, we are all covered. I really hope other artists will ask galleries to stay insured and help legally protect our merch, so we aren’t the only losers when things go awry. It might cost us a showing or a little income here or there when we have to refuse contracts, but then we know that we are not just resigned to no-responsibility to becoming the wave of the future.
I decided not to sign that consignment contract in which the gallery said they would not be responsible for prints that got lost or damaged. And I declined to sign a similar one for original art at another place. Even if the owners are otherwise nice and treat items well, and even if the chances of loss or theft are small, I just feel it’s a poor, lopsided policy that protects only them. Especially if they are taking 40 or 50 percent of the sale.
Don’t get me wrong—I understand the issues galleries have keeping afloat financially (especially now!) and protecting inventory. I really do. And, truth be told, I don’t get worked up about getting every penny of compensation over really small losses. But..but.
As a gesture of goodwill, I’m offering to let them keep selling the handful of prints of mine that they have left under the terms of their contract. But they know I can’t sign it going forward.