05/29/2006: "The Never-Ending Mystery: Pricing Your Work" by
Blog by Paul Dorrell at Absolutearts.com
Replies: 10 Comments
on Tuesday, May 30th, Olivier
You lost my link.
Here it is.Please visit
on Tuesday, May 30th, Olivier
Well I am a painter today, bonjour, and have been a long
time antique dealer on the international scene. When customers came to see me
for an idea of price on a item I used to say : It worth what you can sell it
for! You can try to ask a lot if you do not realize the sale you do not have
the price in hand. How many times I saw an item making X here in auction than
X time 10 even much more in another auction day latter. First in auction you
need two customers with a great deal to own the piece. But it is a little bit
like that in galleries. If it seat there it does not worth the money. You
never heard that? If it is half sold I have to hurry up before price get
higgher.. Now another remark is location. Keep the antiques it is a good
lesson. Our job as antique dealer was to go in the middle of nowhere seeking
for the most precious item and bring it to the best of lest say park avenue,
asking an outrageous high price to make it so valuable. Same with galleries,
customer with a lot of money doesn't want a 15 000 painting sitting in the
living room. Hey I can afford better! To resume I start to make money with
antiques when I start to ask for a lot. Before that I was just successfull
with very good customers and my lot of cry to pay the bills. Final: customer
is king, building a good network is key, location is helpfull but respect
that: do not ask for 100 here and sold to 10 there...you are dead.
That's it for my antique experience. Did you like it? Since a year and half I
am a painter, I created the pinuptotem.com, and...and never sold a painting.
But I am so passionate, findind time for marketing is hard with such a desire
of creativity. My web site have thousand of hits everyday but I am still
waiting for.. I don't know what. So in the main time I price between 4000 to
14 000 that's Canadian. Hurry up I might double these numbers.
Thanks, have fun
on Tuesday, May 30th, galleriessuck said
I am apalled that the only business that gets free stock is
the art gallery business. The first artists who accepted this consignment crap
should be crucified. No other business gets free inventory. It's absurd and
rapes the artist.
PLUS ...not only do they get free stock...
they treat the artist like crap
...don't pay them..
AND !!! hike the prices over double!!!!
on Monday, May 29th, firstname.lastname@example.org">olga
I agree with Jose, Paul - it's very interesting and
important to hear your views - thanks a lot!
on Monday, May 29th, Paul
This is a hot topic, and one of my pet peeves. My gallery, and artists, used
to routinely get asked to donate work to various auctions. My response? Sure
we'll donate: I set the prices, and 50% of the proceeds goes to the artist,
just as if a gallery sold the work. The selling price cannot deviate from what
I set. Consequently, we're not asked as often as we once were.
As you observed, the way it's currently arranged does indeed undermine the art
market, gives the impression that the worth of an artist's work is minimal,
and that artists are therefore unimportant.
When these charities come to me now, I advise that they ask local corporations
to donate. Artists? They struggle enough, and should be the last people to ask
this of. But until artists learn to stand their ground on this issue, it will
continue, and continue to undermine their careers. I'll blog on this at
greater length later in the year.
on Monday, May 29th, gabriella
Paul; Good blog!
I would like you to weigh in with an opinion on the advisability of artists
donating work to charitable auctions auctioning off art, and whether or not
this practise tends to devalue artist's works.
Numerous times I have been asked to donate paintings to charitable auctions.
The very few times I have donated, the paintings went for fire-sale prices.
The thought occurs to me, that buyers who can get work so cheaply will then
become immune to commercial pricing, and expect to get art-work at huge
discounts. I know of people who make it a habit to go from auction to auction,
buy up work and then crow about how they have beat the commercial system of
The usual way organizations approach artists to donate work for their cause is
to say that the artists then get "free" exposure and publicity to a
broader buying public. Never have i seen dentists being asked to provide a
root canal at an auction, or a plumber being asked to provide a free
installation of a heat sink, nor would these professionals demean their hourly
take for such services by auctioning them off at a charity sale!
Why is it then that artists are considered such sitting ducks for such
on Monday, May 29th, walt said
Potential clients should always be reminded not only of the
struggle and years in the process but the fact that an original work means
that there is not another one like it out there. Prices are set in our small
contemporary minds by the fact that most commodities are mass produced thereby
reducing the cost enormously. But a one of a kind is more like a prototype.
Prototypes typically cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of times more than
the production model. Think of how much it would cost if automobiles were
created one at a time and each new model was an original creation. This is
also the reason why a signed original print should be carefully defined as one
in which the artist has actually handworked the plate then strikes the plate
once the edition is run. Hense the terms original and limited edition and the
proof of the limitation. (Often times the artist keeps the stricken plates as
proof of limitation and to keep the plates from the hands of those who might
try to profit from them.) Personally I feel that the new digital print
revolution should not try to ride on the back of terms set up by an older
technology but instead create it's own language. Otherwise confusion becomes
the norm in the minds of less than educated collectors. Original should have
I don't sell a lot of my work these days because I've decided that I must
receive the value invested both in my personal time creating the work and in
the time I've spent learning my craft. My days of lost leaders are over. It
never really worked for me anyway. It simply established my prices lower than
I could afford. But when I do sell a painting now I never feel cheated.
Frankly I tie my prices in to the mortgage of my house. My monthly price being
the lowest price I charge so that one sale equals one mortgage payment (with
very few exceptions). A more expensive work will pay multiple mortgage
payments. (The last large sale covered about 7 months worth of payments.) When
I explain this to a potential client they get it right away because it gets
them where they live. What potential client doesn't make a certain amount of
money per day for what it is they do? And isn't their cash flow related to
their expenses? We even talk about how much of the year we work just to pay
taxes. This is basic business 101. We can talk all we want about lost leaders,
and they are sometimes valuable. But an artist's worth is tied to the price of
their last sale. So if we sell too cheap for too long we simply become a cheap
date in most peoples minds. If that value doesn't come up in a reasonable
length of time then the investor feels they have been sold a worthless bill of
goods. Art is not like other commodities. It has value beyond the intrinsic
necessities. In fact there is no obvious necessity to buy one or another
painting with the exception of defined value (in short the value of the last
sale). All other artistic value is percieved value and therefore subjective.
Remember that an awful lot of artwork does not rise in value. In fact I can
always find a lot of it in the resale shops around town often selling for
pennies on the dollar. In fact I sometimes buy it up for the frames. I'm not
dissing Paul's system. It probably has some value and most likely works well
enough to keep him in business. And may also help a few artists begin to
establish themselves. But there comes a time when an artist has to decide
whether they are real or not, whether they take their art seriously or not,
whether making a living from the art is as important as making something
original of value that doesn't have to compete with mass marketed goods. These
days there are really only a few artists who can command those kinds of
prices. The collectors paying for that kind of work are few and far between.
How often have you been to the home of a wealthy business person and seen the
low grade tastless stuff on their walls? They'll frame a football jersey as
soon as buy a piece of really original art. The idea that every young artist
deserves to make a living from their art is a new idea that has no basis in
reality. We must remember that the history of art simply ignores those who
never made it to the great museum collections so we cannot compare our careers
to those famous artists too quickly or without serious self reflection. And
those collections are not gathered from the lady next door who likes the color
of your flower painting because it goes with the color of her couch or even
the local business owner who commissions a portrait of their store front or a
portrait commemorating their great grandfather who started the business 50
on Monday, May 29th, Paul
Thanks. There are more of us around than you may realize. As for the others,
I'm forming an integrity bootcamp for wayward art dealers. You can be
commandant; I'll be your assistant. Send us your dishonest, your arrogant,
your petty art dealers, and we will reform them--or at least have a great time
on Monday, May 29th, jose
freitas cruz said
Paul, i’ll say it again: were it that there were more
gallery owners/directors like you around! As artists it is tremendously
important for us to hear your side of things, and to get the feeling that
there are honest people out there who actually care about us and value and
understand the difficulties we have to go through. This is sound advice and
hope for those who still have those twenty years ahead of them and a good
reminder to those who have been at it that long and are reaching the stage
when they can start to reap the benefits they deserve. I look forward to
reading your views on other aspects of that [othen murky] area where the
gallerist and the artist meet.