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by Keith Bond on 2/28/2011 9:57:05 AM

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.



Have you ever considered bartering?


As I begin to type this, I am awaiting my dental appointment to get some crown work done. And yes, I am trading a painting for the dental work. A few years ago, when we lived in Texas, I traded paintings for my wife's braces. Currently, my oldest daughter has braces which are partially bartered. I have also traded artwork among artist friends (this is a great way to build your collection).


A few years ago, a client who owns a car dealership offered to trade artwork for a vehicle. I didn't at that time because the client came from a gallery which represents my work. Considering the gallery commission, the purpose of bartering would have been defeated. But I did recently become acquainted with another dealer who is an art collector, so that door is open the next time I am in the market.


I have a few other friends – both artists and non-artists – who are avid barterers. They have bartered for everything – horses, furniture, cars, dental services, tax services, legal work, tractors, rent, computers, TVs, construction labor, etc. You name it, they would be willing to consider it.


But why barter?


There are several potential reasons.


1. It is a great way to get items and services you need or want without dipping into your cash flow.

2. You can move inventory out of your studio.

3. You gain a new collector. One who may buy (or barter again) in the future.

4. You can get things that you normally would never spend money on.

5. It can be fun.


You need to use wisdom and judgment when you barter.


1. Don't barter too much of your inventory away. You need to keep enough of your art available to sell and generate more income.

2. Make sure the trade is fair to both parties. The monetary value doesn't always need to be equivalent as long as the need or desire for the item makes the difference in value fair. But be careful that your work doesn't become undervalued.

3. Treat the other party just as you would any other paying client.

4. Don't trade for something you don't want.

5. Make sure all the details are worked out beforehand. Are you trading wholesale or retail value? What all is included? Shipping (if necessary)? Is it a full trade in terms of monetary value or a partial trade?, etc. Neither person wants to feel that they were taken advantage of.

6. Treat it like a business transaction or arrangement – because it is.



If you have never bartered before, consider it. Give it a try. You might find it quite beneficial. If you have, share your experiences. Have they been good or bad? Yes, just like any other business arrangement, bad experiences do happen. But if you approach it the right way, the experience will more likely be positive. And you just might get hooked.


Best Wishes,

Keith Bond


PS I am currently looking for someone with 35+ acres of land with a nice home and barn or shop which could be converted to a studio that they are willing to trade. If you know someone, send them my way! I have a few paintings to offer.


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Loading comments...

Sandra Haynes
Good reminder Keith that there are other ways to do business out there.

Bartering is one of my favorites and I've bartered for many things....from a haircut to feed for horses, a pup, car....many things.

Sometimes I mention it, other times it's brought up by the other person. If I can use it, I'm willing to negotiate a deal. It's fun and if you are a prolific artist, as I am, it's a great way to move some of the stock out the door.

Barrett Edwards
I think Keith is spot-on in his article on bartering. I, too, have bartered with my paintings, and continue to look for opportunities to do so.
However, Keith doesn't mention the tax aspect of bartering. And here's where it gets a tad complicated. Both parties are receiving a substitute for income, but I have always treated whatever figure was agreed upon as taxable.

Kim VanDerHoek
Right now I am in the process of creating three paintings which I plan on trading to a friend for wine. Her husband is in the wine industry, they want the paintings for their dining room and since I enjoy wine I am going to suggest a trade. After reading your post, I will expand my thinking and be on the lookout for other bartering opportunities.

One thing you should mention though, is that even with bartering there are still tax ramifications, especially when trading for high ticket items.

Michael Cardosa
Hi Keith,

Some good ideas here as usual. I'm not an accountant nor a tax attorney but there is another aspect to take into account here. Bartering, or at least some types of it, have tax consequences so it would be good to check those out too before going off and getting involved in a big transaction only to get caught flatfooted somewhere down the road by the IRS.

Thanks again,


Michael Cardosa
Oops! Looks like Barrett beat me to the punch on this tax issue!


Hilary J England
This is a good article. I have already done some bartering, and continue to do so, and this works out well. I have bartered mostly for traveling purposes, that is, for extended lodging. They get a small plein air painting I've done of the local area, and I get a nice room for the time I'm in there. This has worked nicely, but now I might be a bit more ambitious about it!!

David Rickert
I have bartered paintings twice with my local hospital to pay off medical bills. An admiring patron has offered a free week at his condo in Mexico in exchange for a painting. I also bartered with the local golf course two years ago -- hand-painted outdoor signs (including one 8' x 16') for a seven-year golf memberhip, allowing me to play free every day, something I couldn't afford to do if paying my way.

David Rickert
The sign is 8 feet by 16 feet. My feedback entry appeared as inches. Maybe it's just my computer.

Sharon Weaver
I tried this but the camera my friend wanted to trade for a painting was too complicated and heavy so I decided against the trade. I will have to expand my thinking on this if David could trade for health care and a club membership. Nice going.

Donald Fox

Bartering is a great idea. Like you I've bartered artwork for services ranging from electrical work, car maintenance, downpayments, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, etc. I think I first started bartering by exchanging stamps with an older collector when I was six years old. I have some great art and crafts that otherwise I wouldn't have if I hadn't bartered. I like the idea of exchanging energy for energy.

Jeanne Guerin-Daley
As mentioned by several commenters already, I was aware that people who barter do have to deal with the tax issue. It might have been good to include facts about that in the article. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the article. Thanks for reminding us about the option to barter.

David, Your sign dimensions reads correctly on my computer screen.

Bobbi Baltzer-Jacobo
Great article, Keith! Alot of us Fine Artists don't think of this as an option...unless the other party mentions it first. My Dad was a signpainter, over his many of painting signs for businesses, he bartered for services or durable goods,successfully, many times. A new Ford Van, new T.V's, attorney services, Doctors bills, groceries,new whole-house carpeting!!! It works, at least...sometimes! I would be willing to do it, certainly worth trying,anyway!
Thanks, Bobbi Baltzer-Jacobo

Carol McIntyre
Bartering is great fun and I wish I could do it more often. I often mix it with some payment.

David Rickert
Bartering is a great way to get lake cabin and other lodging accomodations. Many years ago I began going to a lake cabin in northern Minnesota to paint, and, by bartering paintings, new brochure and website designs, and images for his Christmas cards, never had to pay for my annual cabin trip again. I also bartered to do a painting of a beautiful old lake home in Wisconsin in exchange for spending a week there.

Lorna Allan
I live in New Zealand and love to travel, Alaska being my paradise. Last year while contacting lodges at Lake Clark National Park one of them offered me the trip in exchange for a painting. It is to be of the lodge nestled in its natural environment and also a family heirloom piece.

Another place I had already booked accommodation at came to me and asked if I would mind not paying but instead doing a small painting for them and they paid the difference and the postage. They received the painting a couple of days before Christmas and were so excited. It was their first ever purchase of a painting.

Both these works will hang in places, both the lodges and the specific spot, where travelers from around the world will be able to view them.

For me this is a great way to help with my travel expenses and I get to relive the journey as I do the painting.

Thanks for this article Keith. It gives us other ideas and options too.

Best regards

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm Keith...

Good article. Thanks again.

Your article reminded me once again of the "bartering way." I have done it several times...several different times while doing an outdoor art show out of state.

After the owners of the B and B saw my work, they suggested that we trade a painting for room and board.
AS a matter of fact we did that for several years in a row. Two were commissioned paintings they wanted done. Each year that is what we did.
It was a fair trade that took care of the expense of staying at a gorgeous B and B in New England......and it worked out great. My husband and I did not have to put money out for room and board during the 4 nights we were at the art show.
The people got a painting of their granddaughter one year, and a painting of their B and B with their collie dog another year, and a couple scenes of New England over the few years we did it.

Oh..almost forgot another art show, someone who owned a fancy resturant offered a free dinner for a small limited edition print. Again, if saved on expenses.

But, I am not sure I could suggest the idea to someone asking if they would trade one of my paintings for whatever.... They would have to suggest it.

Joanne Benson
Hi Keith,
I have only traded paintings with other artists but I did have an offer from my former pest control contractor to do a portrait of his dog for a service. At the time, I refused because I thought I should have gotten 2 services.

Thanks for the reminder about bartering. I'll have to consider that the next time I'm looking for quaint lodging, etc. I never thought of offering a painting to a BandB. What a great idea!

Sandy Askey-Adams

AND if the B and B does not have a painting of their place, you could offer to do a painting of the B and B as a trade.
I had not asked --- it was their suggestion; but that doesn't matter. I learned from that...because in a case like that, if I were to stay at another B and B, I would ask if they would want that as a trade for staying there. Otherwise, I would not have the guts to ask someone.
Actually, the cost of the painting covered TWO years of staying there.

It was a gorgeous place and they had flower gardens on the was soooooo New England. AND the fact that I included their dog in the painting was an extra bonus. Their dog died the following year and they had their dog right there in the painting. They hung the painting in their guest dining room. Others could see well as other artists who stayed there at the B and B.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Oops..I better correct that...
I did not mean TWO years...I meant staying there twice for two seasons of the art show.. on a weekend of 4 nights.

Joanne Benson
Sounds like a great trade! I'm sure they appreciate your lovely artwork. Win Win for everyone!

Erica Keener
My husband and I have traded our homemade maple syrup for eggs, free range chickens and vegetable with our neighbors over the years, but I've traded artwork only once. This winter I traded with a close friend a little 6x6 painting of a sunflower for a ticket to a concert this summer. We both feel like we got the better end of the deal, which is how it should always be with a trade!

George De Chiara
Great reminder Keith! I've really enjoyed reading what everyone was able to barter for.

Lisa Smouter
Thanks for this article!

I recently had an art student who really wanted a particular painting of mine but could not afford it. The third time he enquired about it he suggested that he refinish the hardwood flooring in my house in exchange for the painting. Great deal! My floors look great, and my painting has a good home with someone who really appreciates it!

Lorrie Beck
Great article! I once bartered a large painting for an entire year of board for my horse. I thought it was a great trade and the owner of the barn thought he got a sweet deal. I've bartered for much smaller things over the years as well and find it to be a great way to aquire things I need/want as well as find folks who later come back to purchase. Thanks for bringing up this topic!

Jo Allebach
Wow! Who would have thought to do the barter thing. I will definitely have to try. Too bad credit card bills would not barter. But getting other things via barter would leave me more for the bills. What a concept. Thanks!


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