Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Selling Original Artwork


How do you feel about selling your original artwork?

Of course the idea sounds great! Lots of money rolling in, the gallery owner beaming contentedly as the little red dots are placed discreetly beside your paintings that will be going off to new homes at the end of the exhibition. What a wonderful feeling! And yet...

One of the Art Tutors at Wensum Lodge, Peter Baldwin, (who, by the way, was the tutor who defended my chair with the 'wrong' perspective!) once told us that he always insisted on making sure that his painting were going to ‘the right home’. At the time, I don’t think any of us had the faintest idea what he was talking about and put it down to some sort of artistic idiosyncrasy.

But once I started to sell my original pastel paintings, I knew all too well what he meant. In spite of my need for the cash and the genuine satisfaction of knowing that someone liked my work enough to put their money where there mouth was, there was always an even stronger need to know that the purchaser was buying my painting for the right reasons. I can’t even begin to tell you what ‘the right reasons’ are; it’s something that I sensed – or didn’t! And there are one or two of my paintings that I’d be begging on the streets before I’d part with them. I have given away a few of my original paintings with no such qualms, but only to my family and my closest and most trusted friends and somehow that feels very different.

An understanding friend suggested that it must be like selling your babies. That’s probably a slight exaggeration – and babies do grow up eventually and leave home. But I think she was right in that selling one’s original artwork is like selling a part of oneself. So it’s not so irrational to be concerned about its future, to want to be sure that it will be appreciated, not stuck in the attic when the time comes to redecorate the room.

That’s one of the reasons that I’d prefer to sell posters or good quality prints – when one is sold, you can always make another one! And it’s also part of the attraction of selling greeting cards. The other reason, as I said last week, is that I am more comfortable with the thought of making art affordable to all, regardless of wealth or income.

Some of my paintings are available as posters and prints from Zazzle and there's an even greater selection at Red Bubble.


Country Mouse Studio said...

The only way I've been able to let them go is by taking pictures of them first and even that is hard.

I did portraits for a while and gave one as a gift without framing it. They crammed it into a tiny frame with no matting, it was awful.

Ulla Hennig said...

I am afraid I can't properly join the discussion here because I haven't been in the situation of being asked to sell one of my works...I think I would be so happy that somebody takes interest in one my paintings or drawings that I would not mind!

Christina said...

I feel the same way. So grateful that online prints are available to artists. Plus my work is amazingly better when making something for a friend or family member, instead of just for myself or an unknown someone.

If for someone I care about, I get more excited thinking how much they will like it and the work is inspired. This goes for greeting cards as well as paintings. did make such an amazing cuddling cats watercolor print using Hahnemuhle Torchon paper that I honestly thought it looked better than the original.

I sold it the watercolor print to a very sweet cat-loving gal but now want another print for myself, even though I have the original, which used lesser quality paper.

Judy Adamson said...

@ Carole - that must have been a painful experience! I once gave an unframed painting away but haven't dared ask to see how it ended up. Better not to know, I think!

@ Ulla - If you continue as you have been, I'm sure you will be in the same situation before too long - and then it's possible you might feel the same way?

@ Christina - I love your cuddling cats! And I've noticed, like you, that if I'm painting a greeting card design specifically for someone's birthday, it often turns out better. In fact my best selling card (Rhodrick!) was made for an old friend's birthday and at a time when I was going through a doldrum period which makes it even more extraordinary!

Itaya said...

Wonderful post Judy! You echo my post here just as you said. :) It is like sending my little birdies off into the wild blue yonder and wishing them a beautiful life as they grow old in their new homes. I'm always flattered big time when someone wants to own some of my artwork and that does make it easier to let go. There are pieces however that I still can't part with and don't intend to just as you said in your post. :)

Judy Adamson said...

Great to see your here again, Itaya - and I love your analogy with the little birds flying away! It's a helpful way to look at it!