Robert Genn is a great artist with a great, no nonsense approach to the business of art. His website, The Painter's Keys is full of useful, practical information. This article was the most recent piece from his "Twice Weekly Newsletter". Well worth the read.
Yesterday Juliana McDonald of Ottawa, Canada wrote, "I have
been a prolific painter over the last 7-8 years and my older
work, large and small, is piling up without much hope of
display or sale. I would like to invite people to buy them from
my studio at a discounted price (say half of the value, taking
off what a gallery would take) so that they can be moved on to
a new home, and I could recoup some of my investment of time
and energy. My concern is I don't want people who bought work
previously to feel that the work is devalued through such
action. Any suggestions?"
Thanks, Juliana. In professional circles the only person you
sell to at half price is your mom. All others pay at or near
the established prices. That's what keeps you professional and
dealers coming back for more. Sometimes painters find it hard
to realize that all paintings can't be sold, nor need to be.
This may be because they are substandard, but not always.
Perhaps they number too many for the market to bear. Apart from
destroying them, consider making the odd discreet gift. Life is
a gift, why then not art? Charities make noble recipients.
Giving the gift of art is a chance to show your love.
Having said all that, a possible route is to auction the work.
People understand that auctions often do not realize
"realistic" prices. Auctions generally operate outside the
gallery network. It's important not to flood this market--you
must still keep your work rare. Auctions are full of
bottom-feeders these days, as well as folks with vested
interests who want to push prices higher. Participating in the
auction world, particularly with outstanding rather than
marginal work, can actually have a beneficial effect on your
Another route is to assemble a retrospective of top quality
pieces, perhaps thematic, and offer them to public galleries.
This manoeuvre opens new friendships and adds legitimacy. If
that fails, offering them on permanent or semi-permanent loan
to any number of worthy institutions is also good business.
Hospitals, clinics, tax offices, as well as the foyers of
public buildings often have a need for art. While it can be
expensive to frame and display such a project, the exercise can
be worthwhile. Finally, if you don't feel like lending, you
might consider leasing to some office or other private space.
Lessees often see art as an opportunity to deduct the cost of
PS: "Love has always been the most important business in my
Esoterica: Many countries in the western world are currently
enjoying buoyant economic times. Art prices follow general
liquidity, and abundant cash is being thrown at substandard as
well as quality work. This is no time to lose your head. Good
times offer the opportunity to raise personal creative
standards and to learn to handle the market in a responsible
manner. Markets fluctuate, but an artist should never forget
that art is for all time. Day-to-day as well as long-term
personal integrity is all-important--and that goes for moving
your stuff too.
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