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.
Many shows combine a fixed price sale with an auction. Usually, participating artists have a few (or several) works in the fixed price sale.
The auction portion of the show usually has smaller works. At some shows, they are “quick-draw” works. They could be plein air, but not always. Sometimes the auctioned artworks are donated outright, but not always. Sometimes they are simply smaller pieces from the artists’ inventory.
The idea behind the auction is usually to generate excitement and encourage sales. Many times they are fundraisers. Most of the time, I see auctions billed as “a way to get a great deal for a work of art.” And most of the time, it lives up to that expectation. Rarely do works go for retail and even rarer are the times the works are bid up higher than retail.
At some shows, only auctioned items sell (far below retail) while the fixed price works (at retail) don’t sell well, if at all. But not all shows. I’ve been to some where the larger fixed price works sell very well.
There are many directions this article could go. This article won’t discuss what makes an auction good or bad (maybe a future article?). Rather, I will focus my post today on just one thing:
Your Attitude about Auctions
- Do you feel that auctions in general are good or bad?
- Do you resent that you are giving away the art for next to nothing?
- Are you honored to be at the show in the first place?
- Do you believe in the cause?
- Does believing in the cause justify getting less for your art?
- Are you participating to please someone else (gallery owner, museum curator, friend, etc.)?
- Even if the piece sells for less than retail, do you view the buyer as a new life-long collector that you can cultivate and build a relationship with?
- Do you build that relationship?
- Or do you view the buyer as a cheapskate?
- Are you grateful for any sale, regardless of how large or small?
- Or would you rather not sell anything than sell for less than what you think it is worth?
- Or do you just deal with it because you are desperate for any sale you can get?
- Do you consider participation in the event as good PR or advertising or building brand image?
- Or is your art only a “product” (dare I use that word?) that you could sell for more elsewhere?
The purpose of this article isn’t to dictate what your attitude should be. I am just opening up the topic for conversation. I just want to get you thinking about both sides and then decide for yourself where you stand. You might be on one side or the other or somewhere in the middle. Maybe it depends on the show. It doesn’t matter to me where you are.
What matters is that you base your decision on business reasons not emotional reasons.
The final question, does participation make good business sense?
Share your thoughts.