Everyone has their own take on these “tough economic times.” Here are some thoughtful words from artist Linda Blondheim:
So many artists have the idea that only the rich buy art. Most of my most faithful patrons are middle class people including store clerks, secretaries, pest control owners, PR people, teachers and plumbers. They are every person you are likely to meet on an average day. A recent conversation with a very rich person revealed that neither he nor any of his friends had any interest at all in the arts.
I think we have to be flexible enough with our pricing to make it possible for a regular person to purchase our work now during the hard times. The little browse bin painting someone buys from me today, may be the beginning of a long relationship with a new collector. Perhaps when the economy improves, that person will decide to buy a serious painting. My hope springs eternal.
Linda expresses the opinion that “we have to be grateful for what we get in these times of uncertainty” and states that “I am not too proud to sell lower end and older work at a price people can afford.”
The facts are that artwork is a commodity just like any other, and just like any other, prices fluctuate. And that does not mean they always go up; sometimes they go down. They go up when money flows freely and supply gets tight; they go down when money dries up and studios, back rooms, and storage spaces begin to bulge with the labors of creative endeavor, aka artwork.
Trust Alyson Stanfield, of ArtBizCoach.com, to have an action plan for any situation you can imagine. She recommends that artists set up an affiliate program, because “Someone out there (especially one of your fans) is ready and waiting to help you sell your art.”
This is especially true because an affiliate program rewards your fans. That means you are paying someone who is part of your artist community, instead of a gallery or retail outlet, to sell your work.
Paying affiliates and lowering your prices might amount to the same thing as far as your wallet is concerned. One has the potential to keep your friends and fans happy and your work circulating. The other rewards your buyer directly. It brings to mind the phrase six of one and half a dozen of the other.
I would be very interested in your opinion about this. I have posed the question in the title of my post as if there were only two choices. Besides the fact that I do not have room to write all the available approaches in such a small space, things are never that simplistic! All of us have valid, individual strategies for promoting and selling our work. Nevertheless, we can learn from each other! As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Every now and then a [person’s] mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”
Remember that old phrase about necessity being the mother of invention? There just might be a relationship between increasing the sales of our work and the sizes of our minds!
By the way, Chris Bolmeier may be serious, or just have her tongue stuck in her cheek, but How To Earn Money Selling My Art will give you a good guffaw or three.