What plan of action should jewelry designers follow if they wish to successfully promote their jewelry in galleries? Wait bashfully until their works of art might coincidentally be discovered by some famous gallery owner? Or would it be better to pay a personal visit to that certain gallery of your choice? Both of these options are conceivable, but the one which has the desired effect is very much a question of personality.
Special attention should be paid to the architecture in the gallery Slavik in Vienna. The gallery is seen as a meeting point for artists, collectors and architects, not least due to the tangible, picturesque power of the architect and metal sculptor
Women’s power: a view of the atelier rooms in the Dusseldorf-based jewelry gallery c/o vier, run by four women
Transparent: in the summer of 2006, Andrea Schmidt opened her Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry in the city center of Dortmund
While one goldsmith or jewelry designer might prefer to stand on the sidelines and wait to see whether he or his work will be discovered, the other will be more proactive and outgoing. According to Matthias Grosche, proprietor of Gallery Grosche: “The most effective way to place your jewelry on the market is to personally promote your own work as the artist.” A current example taken from his experience in the business proves this theory. He is planning an exhibitiono for the beginning of 2007 with three Bulgarian jewelry artists who approached him with their work. “After the initial e-mail contact we realized that the necessary criteria for a successful collaboration were in place and that we could get started.” He is also convinced that many of his colleagues in the trade are of a similar opinion and particularly enjoy having direct contact with the designers themselves. Furthermore, gallery owners attend trade fairs and events on an international level in order to discover new designers and their innovative ideas first hand. The internationally applicable general criteria used for selecting new designers could be listed as follows:
- The level of innovation: is the item/collection of jewelry the product of a brand new idea or is it merely a variation of a theme already in circulation?
- Value for money: is the prize set by the jewelry artist in keeping with the market value and with the expectations of the gallery owner?
- Territorial claims: distribution of art (gallery owners like to secure their section of the market by ensuring that they’re not offering the same items of jewelry as the gallery next door.
- Selling power: this is where each gallery owner draws on his own knowledge of the market.
- Willingness to co-operate: to what extent is the designer prepared to comply with the conditions set down by the gallery owner: is he willing, if necessary, to offer his items of jewelry as good on commission or to put in a personal appearance at public events?
- Ability to meet with logistical demands and deadlines: a designer who wishes to be represented through a gallery should be able to deliver on a specified number of jewelry items (or desired changes) within a fixed period of time.
A location with a special flair: the owners of the gallery Grosche commissioned the construction of a brand-new gallery house directly beneath the tower of a former mine
Vaulted cellar: the owner of the Polish gallery Bielak exhibits international jewelry art in the basement of a house in Krakow
On top of it all, many gallery owners maintain that the aspect of personal interaction plays a very important role: Andrea Schmidt of the Gallery for Contemporary Jewelry in Dortmund has gone on record as saying: “It is not only the jewelry that attracts me”. In her opinion, it is important that the chemistry between designer and gallery owner is right because her gallery lays particular emphasis on the creative minds behind the designer jewelry. Marie Jose van den Hout of the Dutch Gallery Marzee sees things somewhat differently. She has close contact, if not almost a personal friendship, with some of the 80 plus designers she represents at her gallery while the remainder are merely passing acquaintances. Of primary concern for her in the selection of jewelry art is the innovative and artistic nature of the design. A key criteria which is used in the selection of a collection of jewelry is its roundness. Many gallery owners attach particular importance to being able to recognize some development within a collection of jewelry. On the one hand, they are looking for quirky individualized as well as spectacularly unique items, while on the other, they expect variety in terms of size and material coupled with both bold and bashful variations of the same theme.
Five questions addressed to Marie Jose van den Hout, owner of the largest jewelry art gallery in Europe which boasts a surface area of 1000 square meters.
Next to each other: a lot of jewelry fits on to the folding presentation surfaces. These are frequently topical exhibitions, initiated by the owner of the gallery Friends of Carlotta in Zurich
Experience: in the gallery Marzee in Holland, visitors pull out the drawers with the jewelry items themselves
Marie Jose van den Hout, gallery Marzee
Art + Design: Which trade fair/events do you attend in search of new jewelry for your gallery?
Marie Jose van den Hout: None whatsoever I turn my attention exclusively to schools. Given that I see myself as someone devoted to discovering complete newcomers to the scene of jewelry art, I am not interested in artists who market themselves by exhibiting at trade fairs.
Art + Design: What selection criteria do you employ when hunting for new talent?
Marie Jose van den Hout: I rely mainly on my experience and intuition. During the thirty years in my capacity as a gallery owner, I have managed to develop a fairly strong instinct for what is good.
Art + Design: How important is the personal relationship between you and the designer?
Marie Jose van den Hout: It is certainly important to have some level of personal interaction, but it is not necessary that I become a close friend of each artist I work with. In my experience, it is mostly those people with highly complex personalities that produce the best jewelry. This doesn’t deter me at all; on the contrary, I find it fascinating.
Art + Design: What does your gallery specialize in?
Marie Jose van den Hout: More in a combination of pictorial and sculptural form and less so in concept and design.
Art + Design: From your point of view, are there any do’s and don’ts that apply to jewelry designers and if so, what would they be?
Marie Jose van den Hout: I am of the opinion that it is important for artists to inform themselves of the artistic orientation of jewelry galleries, and this even before they approach them with their work. I find it annoying when artists send their applications to me at random and then its my job to turn them down because they do not fit in with the concept of my gallery. And by the way, my personal tip: never turn up unannounced by paying a personal surprise visit to the gallery owner. This is a mark of little respect for both the work and time commitments of the gallery owner.