To give a discount or not, it depends upon several factors, but lets discuss the ones that I find most important for me :
a) how much the person likes the work (namely can I perceive it in his/her eyes ?)
b) can I have an idea of the person's income ?
Usually an art collector will have some money aside to buy art, so he/she is not going to need it for bread.
However a person doesn't have to be a collector to enjoy art and may have a great desire to acquire a piece.
Of course that one cannot guess, but according to the factors mentioned above, yes I might do a reasonable discount or let the person pay in two or three instalments (hope I wrote this one right :-) ) .
Working as a professional artist for a number of years, I have dealt with this frequently.
First off, is it a piece that has hung around for awhile? Or is it relatively new on the market....such as a year or two?
Engage the folks in conversation.....ask questions: What do they like about the piece? Where would they hang it? Do they go to a lot of art shows? Lead them to ask some questions about you, your methods, your travels, etc.
Form a bond with them.
Don't jump in there too quickly and offer a discount. (Remember, this isn't the only opportunity you will have to sell the piece, and for goodness sake, don't look too eager, and/or desperate)Instead, offer a payment plan: such as take their credit card info, tell them you will charge a certain amount each month toward the purchase price.....do ask for about a third down. This is so they are invested in it. And then let them take the piece with them.
Allow them to walk away if need be.....many times I have had them come back and pay full price before the show is over.
If you make the sale,send a thank you note to them....if you don't make the sale, send a pleased to have met you note. You would be surprised how many folks will look you up the next year and buy.
I do give a small discount to repeat buyers, however, or throw in a free print or something similar.
Just my opinion from experience and I'm still learning.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with giving a modest discount. If that same piece were to go to a gallery, the artist would typically, even on a commission basis, receive a wholesale price for the piece.
Giving a modest discount off the "retail price" still recieves a high magin.
How much does it cost to develop a personal relationship with a collector? Typically more than the discount. The discount amount still goes in your pocket. Take it directly from your marketing budget.
Yes, Clint... I can see your point. If a collector were to tell me they "cannot live without it" I would be insulted at the request of a discount. I do not offer discounts. This is not a compettition and I want to sell only to those who enjoy my work. If someone were looking for a bargain I would tell them to go to Pier One Imports.
I agree Clint, there is a lot of irony there. I find most of the time people that really rave over a piece and then ask for a discount fall into two groups: the ones that have learned that artists many times will give a discount to make a sale and the ones that have no intention of buying no matter how good a deal you offer them. These people I carefully steer to my print bin and suggest (with a smile and some tact) that these might be more in their price range. They will almost always say they only buy originals, so I simply tell them it was really nice visiting, and then shut up. They have to decide the next move.
I am in the business to make a living and find that collectors mostly do not ask for a discount. (I've never lost a sale to them by saying no to a discount.)
But each artist has to decide what they are comfortable with and what they can make work for them.
I agree that it is very important to tell the client that you are delighted they like your art work so much and then develop the conversation to get to know them more. Personally, I almost never give a discount on the first painting a person purchases, but I do give a small discount to a "collector" who comes back to buy more of my work. If they keep purchasing additional work instead of increasing the discount, I give them a drawing or a small study as a gift. People absolutely love getting a suprise gift, especially in a different media from the one they bought.