Common Sense Rules for Finding an Art Agent

© Uriél Dana 2015.

How does an artist find a legitimate agent/broker to represent your work?  These are a few of my rules after thirty years.

You ask for references and check them. You also ask for their art background or experience in the arts and check those references.

There are some common sense things to watch for. Recently someone contacted me about agenting the work but when they came from out of state spent almost no time looking at the art, or at the very least engaged with it.  (My place is a small museum with nearly forty paintings; the artwork is framed, tagged, and lit impeccably). Ok, I think, she’s not interested.  She wants my client list, no…that’s not how it works. (My clients would not be happy to be chased by a salesperson they do not know  trying to sell them art, and I don’t need an agent for clients I already have). Nor could I receive a straight answer for basic questions such as, How much percentage do you take? Who pays for shipping?  I could not get an answer because she did not know her business.

Never, give anyone exclusivity.
The art does not leave the studio until paid in full.
Commissions are 50% down (non refundable) and must be paid in full before leaving the studio. Most agents charge 20% to 30% (depending on how much they do) and I add this to my price.
I never undersell a gallery (you will never have representation again) and do not let an agent do so either or it will ruin your career.
Remember this person will represent “you” in the world. What does this person tell the world about themselves, about you?

Last, but not least, do not expect someone to rescue you. Know your own business. My Grandfather use to say, “Oi, you must know how to do your own books before you let someone else manage your money, or you won’t know if their cheating you!”