There are a few galleries that represent and occasionally carry my work.
-Martin & MacArthur Galleries, Hawaii and Las Vegas,NV (808) 845-6688
-Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia, PA (215) 923-7030
I have a few pieces in my shop that are for sale, and find most clients prefer to schedule a visit and buy or commission work directly from me. Generally, a custom piece of furniture takes between three months and two years to complete, start to finish. I produce between 2 and 30 pieces per year, some of the larger projects being a 8′ x 12′ x 2′ breakfront cabinet, 4′ x 14′ long inlaid table, or a single piece 7′ diameter inlaid pedestal table. I have structured my work flow into one year batches, culminating in a solo show of my own work once every two years, usually around September to November. The year that I am not doing a show with my own work, I create custom commission pieces for collectors, private clients, decorators, and contracts through galleries and museums.
This is how I structure a custom order for a potential client, and some of the questions I would ask to get a better idea of what they may need.
- What is the piece, what will it be used for, how big is it?
- What does the client like as far as styles or periods ? (Italian renaissance, Art nouveau, Deco, Regency, Green and Green, Contemporary, Oriental… )
- Do they respond to any particular piece in my portfolio? Why?
- What is the feeling that they want to convey? Light and airy, solid, natural, serious, engaging, involved, complex, interesting, rotund, massive, lively…
- Imagery that they are attracted to: Subject matter such as specific flowers, vines, geometric patterns, natural free flowing designs, colorful modern, ribbons structured or unstructured…
- Lighting of the area, direct exposure to sunlight, overall color of the piece?(light or dark)
- Budget and Time line.
The time line from contact to completion varies depending on my work flow and where I am in the two year cycle, but it ain’t gonna be done yesterday.
The client should be aware that the final cost of a project could run between $1000 and $100,000 depending on the scope and complexity of the job. The Jewelry box was $2200, Ribbon High Cabinet $11,700, Blackberry Table with chairs $98,000, Library Table $72,000, Rose Dresser $34,600. Projects with solid gold metal trim, bone, metal, pietra dure, precious stone or gem inlay, large and intricate marquetry patterns and custom mechanical devices can contribute substantially to the final cost. Once these questions have been addressed, I may also request dimensions and layout of certain rooms in the house, and photos of the room, other furniture the client has, or house exterior. Once I have all the information and visuals, I will get started on a sketch of two or three ideas, and send them to the client. Normally this design fee runs about about $350 to $1200. Larger fixture or designing custom interior veneer work to be bid – time and material. Once the client reviews the sketches, they contact me with their acceptance, revisions, questions and feedback. I will give them a rough dollar estimate, if they decide on something close to what I have represented. At this point, turning back into conceptual ideas with more sketches and a follow up scale drawing may generate another design fee. The next step is to provide them with an accurate scaled version of their selection on a 8.5″ x 14″ sheet of paper, and I will be able to narrow the price down further.
If they accept the drawing with only minor design revisions to be made, a signed contract is drawn up and sent. They need to pay a deposit, which is broken into 1/3 of the full cost if it is over $10,000.- and 1/2 if the full cost is under $10,000.
I then proceed with any final revisions to be made to the scale drawing, create full size mechanical shop drawings, a full size cartoon drawing of the inlay to be done and a finish sample of the proposed woods and stone to be used in this project. At this point I will be able to determine exactly how much this project will cost, and when it will be ready to be delivered. The final price of a project would normally be the same whether it comes through a gallery, decorator or directly from me, and will not include taxes, shipping or installation. The second payment is requested when project is approximately 1/2 complete and the final payment needs to be received before the piece is shipped. Price of shipping is quoted out to the client at cost, with no markup.
The cost of shipping can fluctuate wildly from one week to the next. (Gas prices, available space in truck…) I always have the shipping company include their cost of insurance against damage or loss. (they take better care of it this way, and the cost is often less than 1% of the total value). The piece is inspected by the shippers prior to packaging, and it is the clients responsibility to inspect, note damage upon delivery and notify the shipper (in writing) of any apparent damage. Also, I always like the client to call me after the piece is delivered to give me comments, feedback and so on. A gallery would coordinate delivery time between shipper and client, do a full follow up call once the piece has been received, and handle any problems that may occur.
I find through my experience that this method of creating custom commissions has worked well for me in the 30 years I have been building furniture. It seems to run smoothly and gives security to everyone involved. Let me know if this is something you wish to pursue, and let us see what we can create!