Mike Levy’s talk for Craftaganza Live

For those of you that made it along to the last Craftaganza Live thank you for coming, for those of you that could not attend then you did miss out on a really interesting talk as the director of Castor and Pollux took centre stage.

After working very hard as a potter in Camden, London and supplying large quantities of work to the likes of Habitat and Barney’s in New York, Mike was ready for a slower paced and less stressful lifestyle and moved to Brighton where he found fab premises and opened his gallery eight years ago.

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During his talk he spoke about recession and how shopping has changed, with the growth of e-commerce galleries are in a different place in the market compared to just eight or six years ago. He has people approaching him daily trying to sell him things rather than trying to buy things and many “customers” are window shopping and will make their purchases with the aid of google when they return home.

He opened his talk with the question “Why would you want your work in a gallery?” with the power of Pinterest, Etsy and Facebook you can reach far more people directly and very quickly. For me I think that having a gallery owner like and buy/stock your work adds kudos to what you do. It is somebody who looks at art all day long and has given you a nod, there are still people out there who don’t internet shop and who want to look and choose work for real. I for one would be more inclined to buy a print (for example) in a gallery that order it online. As a jeweller I sell my work both in shops and galleries as well as online and all of these make up what I do.

Mike gave some great tips when approaching a gallery with you work and these are they:

Do your Research. Don’t go to a gallery that sells ceramics expecting them to be interested in your jewellery.

Know your product. How quickly can you fulfil an order, what are the wholesale costs of the product.

Don’t sell next door. If you sell your work in a nearby gallery then the owner is less likely to want your work, it’s not fresh and exclusive for them and you are competing against yourself.

Don’t undersell yourself and your work. Your time is worth money, if you under value your products your business is not sustainable.

Timing. Don’t rock up on a busy Saturday afternoon and expect everything to be dropped to look at your work, you are not likely to get the best response! Call first and make an appointment.

Accept rejection gracefully. There could be many reasons why a gallery does not agree to stock your work, they may be fully stocked, they may not have the budget, it just might not be to the galleries taste. You can always ask for a reason as it may turn out to be constructive, just don’t take rejection too personally!

Stay in touch. If a gallery does take your work drop them a line monthly to see how they are going and if they need anything else.

Mike also spoke about sale or return and suggested that as an artist you should be a little wary, there is no incentive for the gallery to really sell your work unless they are a new venture and need stock to get them off the ground financially. If they have work that they have bought then that is the work that they are going to want to sell in order to get their money back and make new purchases. He mentioned sale or exchange where a gallery can buy a certain number of prints and if they don’t sell within a specified time frame that can swap them with you for new work meaning that the gallery is always offering fresh product to their customers and you are still getting paid.

All in all it was a fab talk and great to get an honest insight into the mind of a gallery director. If you haven’t been into Caster and Pollux then I suggest that you pay it a visit, there is a fantastic book shop and a wide range of uplifting work to buy…

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Next up for Craftaganza Live is Wendy Ward of MIY Workshop, she will be telling us how she came to open her workspace and her experiences along the way.

It will be in the evening of June 26th, doors open at the usual time of 7:00pm and the talk will begin at 7:45pm. The live talks are free but do bring pennies for the bar as The Old Market do not charge us for using their space, it is a fun networking evening and is open to all who are interested….

22/05/2013
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