Recently I got several emails asking about artists' agents, a topic with which I am unfamiliar. One was from a Midwest artist who was represented by local and regional galleries but who, being unfamiliar with New York City, felt she needed an agent to get her work seen by gallerists here. I've edited her query to its essence:
"How do I find an agent to sell my work?"
I remembered that Ed Winkleman had written a post in 2007 on the topic (Double Agents and Secret Tools of the Trade) so I recommended it to her. Ed's take: "I've never once encountered any gallerist who was even remotely interested in talking with an emerging artist's "agent." This is primarily because the gallerist sees it as their job to serve as the person or business authorized to act on the artist's behalf (or in other words, the "agent") . . ."
I know of one artist who is very pleased to be represented by an agent. He's had shows in Europe as a result of his agent's efforts, but I couldn't vouch for the quality of the venues. Here, for instance, the agent has booked him into showrooms, hotel lobbies and cultural institutions rather than in conventional art world venues. And I heard anecdotally about another such agent who arranges art exhibitions for the hospitality industry--i.e. hotel lobbies, cruise lines, even yachts. None of these venues has anything to do with the New York City art scene as we know it, though I understand sales were made.
Based on my limited knowledge, it would seem that having an agent and being gallery represented are two entirely, and not particularly compatible, scenarios. So I wonder if we might do a little crowd sourcing today.
. Is anyone represented by an agent?
. Is anyone represented by an agent and a gallery?
. If so, what does an agent do for you that a gallery doesn't?
. Does having an agent interfere with finding a gallery?
. How does the commission work? What percentage does the agent take versus the gallery?
. Do you get the artist's 50 percent, or is the pie sliced up differently?
. Does anyone use an agent for non-gallery sales such as print designs, or licensing images?
. If you're a dealer, have you worked with an artist's agent in showing the work of an artist?
. If you're an agent, would you tell us how you work with galleries on behlf of your artist client?
As always, anonymous comments are welcome if they add to the discussion, but I won't empower hit-and-run attackers.