You already know those good manners are important, but the fine art industry has its own formalities that will enhance your gallery experience. Here are some recommendations, secrets & standards to consider when indulging in a gallery space.

Contacting the Artist Directly

Q: I would like to contact the artist directly, is this acceptable in the fine art industry?

A: Yes, of course. If you go to a restaurant, it is a treat to meet the chef. If you go to a concert, V.I.P. access allows you to go backstage with the singer. It’s known, meeting the creator is an engaging experience and is second to none. We encourage you to follow the artist on all social media outlets, send them your praise and share their artwork with others that you think will enjoy it as well. Are you thinking of making a purchase directly with the artist? This is very different. Did you discover the artist on your own? Did you discover the artist thanks to an art gallery that works hard every day to share their talent with the world? Galleries usually only have one shot to make a deal between a customer and an artist and the salesperson plays a vital role in facilitating this for you. If you go around them, then their time was lost.  In the art business, artists work very hard to obtain representation with a gallery that produces results. When an artist makes a sale with a customer who established initial contact from an art gallery this is called “Back Dooring” and may cost them their career with that establishment. If you want to support the artist, then you should collect from one of the galleries that represent them. This provides them more time to focus on what they do best, which is to produce beautiful works of art versus dealing with a business transaction. By collecting with the gallery you are not only effectively supporting the arts but you also have a company to refer to in the future for important issues such as quality of the product, replacement of Certificates of Authenticity, Valuations and more.

Offers & Discounts

Q: How much of a discount can I ask for & is it okay to make an offer?

A: Generally speaking galleries do their best to sell the artwork for the listed price. The artist and consultant have insight as to the market value and have put more thought into the price point than you may guess. If a piece has sold at a particular price then they may increase it, especially for limited editions and originals. During an artist’s career they perfect their talent and abilities, they’ve stayed dedicated and therefore their art has become more valuable. If you really love the artwork and the price is within your budget then you will inspire more creations and perpetually improve the success of the artist and the gallery by paying the listed price. However, everybody loves a great deal! If the price is what is preventing you from making a decision at that moment, do not hesitate to ask about any current promotions. Some galleries may be able to offer a gift with purchase and the gift can be far more valuable than their allowed discount program. How about requesting a free frame or free shipping? Even better, if you’re in the market for more than one piece than work on a package deal. If you really are only interested in one piece and want the best price possible, the standard discount will be 10% and at most 30%. Bear in mind that galleries have to pay the salesperson a percentage and share the sale with the artist. Sometimes, price reductions come entirely off of the gallery’s end, meaning the artist profits more than the person paying the rent and exposing their work. This isn’t a formula for a healthy business model and if you want to keep enjoying the gallery ambiance and having access to curated works for yourself and others then try to always negotiate with these factors in mind.


Q: Is photography allowed in galleries? 

A: It depends on the gallery. Each space has it’s own set of rules, some galleries allow photography & others don’t. If a gallery does encourage photography then try to reciprocate the favor by posting onto social media and mentioning both the artist & the gallery. It is never acceptable to use any photography, whether taken yourself or from the internet, in order to plagiarize a piece of art and have it reproduced, this is considered copyright infringement.


Q: Can I ask a gallery to trade a piece of artwork that they have for one that I own?

A: This may be a possibility if the gallery solely resells artwork. Most galleries, especially in Maui, focus on popularizing an artist and building their collector base. Therefore having a one and only piece that consumes wall space real estate may be more time consuming and less profitable than maintaining a consistent representation of the artists on their roster. They can sell 100 reproductions of a proven to sell piece and expand their clientele or sell only once to one collector and then not be able to offer more inventory from that artist since they don’t directly represent their body of work. This is especially true for an artist that isn’t world-famous, as gaining new collectors for an emerging or locally known artist is particularly challenging. Ask if they have a consignment program where they use word of mouth or online marketing.

In regards to inquiring about trading a piece of your art directly with the artist, this is further counterproductive for the gallery. Business owners generally invest tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a space, work rigorous hours and bare their souls so that the public can freely browse around in hopes of finding something that catches their eye and their interest. If a trade is made directly between the artist and the collector there is no profit for the entity that initially exposed and connected you to a work of art special enough to entice you to make that request, to begin with. Making a sale should be a dance where all parties move together to gain something. Salespersons survive from the commission, the gallery survives from sales and the artist survives from acquiring many collectors who will follow their career and continue to acquire pieces in the future. If you love the artwork, you can afford to purchase it, you laid eyes upon thanks to owner opening doors, and you received helpful insight from a salesperson, keep the art industry alive and participate in the beauty of the art gallery! 


Lahaina, HI 96761 USA