Category Archives: Art Marketing

What Determines the Value of Art?

Market Driven

Recently an individual asked me bout the value of an artists work in print. At one  time demand was high. It was commented that someone offered to purchase one of this artist’s prints she owned for over $2000.00 many years ago.  In today’s market, it would be difficult to give it away at $200.00.  So what determines the value of art? It’s market driven and it can be fickle.

If you’ve watched the Antiques Roadshow  you see how items of value fluctuate up and down. Factors include the popularity of the item, (trends)  its availability or rarity, and the quality and condition of the item. Also you can’t negate the economy, if times are lean and spending  becomes more conservative.

Consumer Savvy Buyers

With the internet, potential buyers are becoming more consumer savvy. Smart phones are used to compare prices of artist’s works in other galleries as well as with other artists of the same caliber and experience even while in a gallery looking at art.

Therefore, it’s unwise for a new artist to arbitrarily set an unrealistically high price and expect individuals to accept its value without question just because the price tag says so.  Another poor tactic is creating a false sense of demand by saying “ you better buy it now, cause the prices are going up next month, next year or whatever.” It can later backfire if there isn’t a true demand or credentials to back up a claim as to the items worth.

Most artists start out with modest pricing and as works sell, a track record begins with price increases happening over time along with other credentials being added. There are exceptions. But remember, they are just that; exceptions and not the norm.

Value Comparisons

In the illustration below are several paintings grouped together. With the exception of  the painting in the middle (which is mine) the artist’s signatures has been blotted out. I want the works to stand on their own merit. However, one artist I know personally, have exhibited in a show with another, others are known by reputation and one I know nothing about. Sizes of the paintings range from 9″ x 12″ – 16”x20.” The price range is $1300.00 – $9750.00 with the next highest priced work in the group being $3800.00. You can click the image to see the prices on each.

Group Comparisons

Did you guess the $9750.00 painting?  It’s the bottom one in the middle vertical column.  From the artist’s website there were only a handful of paintings listed, all 9×12 in size with that price tag. Others shown were comparable in skill and execution.  No indication of work previously sold, gallery representation, shows or experience on the part of the artist was found. The site did say that each painting listed was an original investment quality piece of art.

A Final Comparison of what determines the value of art

Are you familiar with the artist Clark Hulings?  He happens to be a favorite of mine. Well, this artist had a long history and a list of accolades and accomplishments that most artists never realize in their lifetime. His painting skill was all but unmatched. As proof of that, here’s an example from a 1999 show catalog of his work.

Clark Hulings

The painting size was 24×36 and had a price tag of $135,000.  The same catalog showed a small work of a 10”x12” painting of a single white rose priced at $9000.00.

Clark Hulings Single White Rose

The show was a sell out with over a million dollars in sales. Sadly Hulings passed away in 2011, but current estimates of  similar sized paintings in the 9×12 range at auction is still holding strong at $9000.00-$12,000.00.

I don’t think I need to further elaborate other than to reiterate that what determines the value of art is principally the market along with some reasonably expected credentials that support the price. Otherwise the price tag may appear to be meaningless without true merit regardless of what’s stated on it.

As an update from first writing this blog post regarding the $9750.00 priced painting, I rechecked the artist’s website to see if this could have been listed in error and if the price had changed. Well, it had. The price was changed to $2700.00 for the 9×12 paintings. Still the question remains. Will the market see the work as worth that stated price in comparison to other work in the same genre?

A month has passed since writing this post and another update regarding the above mentioned $9750 priced painting is in order.  Rechecking the artist’s website a new list price of $590 was shown for the 9×12 painting unframed. For artists wishing to enter the market, it would be wise to do research on pricing before presenting it to the world. But, we all learn. However, you don’t have to learn by mistakes. There’s plenty of online advice on how to price art work. Take advantage of that resource to educate yourself on the subject.

Galleries can also help in assessing your prices. Here’s something I did. I went into an upscale gallery containing works comparable to my style. The gallery wasn’t busy, so I asked if I could show them some photos of my art. This was before smart phones. I told them I wasn’t seeking gallery representation, but would like their advice. This took the pressure off of them and probably seemed a little odd for an artist not seeking representation.  The director was pleasantly surprised when she saw my photos. Afterwards I was told that if my work was in their gallery my prices would be higher. Wonderful feedback!



Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation.

Recently my wife and I got away for the day to celebrate our 9th anniversary and do a little antique malling. Afterwards we were hungry but also wanted to check out any nearby places for wine tasting.  We came upon a place in Lubbock, TX called La Diosa Cellars. The food and wine was great, and then there was dessert. It got me to thinking about Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation!

Here’s a photo. That’s chocolate, blueberries and cream.

food and art

So what does this have to do with art? It’s all in the presentation. When we first walked into the establishment, we were greeted with a pleasing, artsy, laid back atmosphere. Very comfortable surroundings. The menu description of the food was mouth watering and then the presentation was great. So it goes with ones art work. If you want to put your work out there and sell it, make it palatable. If you’re showing your work in an art booth, make your surroundings inviting. If you work in 2D media, frame your work well.  The presentation can’t be overlooked. If your work is good to begin with, taking the time to make it even more mouthwatering is worth the extra effort as the photo below illustrates. So remember: Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation!

empty dessert plate




Small Autumn Landscape Painting for eBay Auction

Autumn scenes are fun to paint and my latest small autumn landscape painting for my eBay auction was one of them. The auction ends Sunday December 15, 2013 6PM Pacific Time.

Autumn Hue 9x12 oil painting for eBay auction by William Hagerman copyright 2013

What’s fun about painting autumn scenes is the opportunity to strategically use pure color in the more intense areas especially in the tree which was the focus of this painting of a maple tree nestled at the bottom of a canyon wall.

It was inspired from a scene at Lost Maples State Park in Texas, although I used my artistic freedom to move some rocks around and put the tree in a better position, but there was a natural color harmony that I liked between the orange colored tree and the shadowed rocks which had a blueish color with hints of violet. It was a perfect colored background to set off the glow of these fall leaves.

I emulated the visual texture of the leaves by adding some impasto or thicker applications of paint to give them a slight relief giving them more dimension. It almost seems as though you could reach out and touch them!

This eBay painting is a full oil painting unlike my others whereby I start with acrylic and finish with oil. The reason is I had just completed another studio painting and still had paint on my palette, so instead of setting up another palette with acrylic color I decided to do the painting with the oil paints I already had on hand. Fortunately the other painting was also a fall scene and I was able to transition from one painting to another. I’ll share this new studio/gallery painting in an upcoming post.

For artists who are marketing their work, a consideration to keep in mind if your offering works on eBay is to keep your production costs down. Those on eBay are not there to pay full retail. I’m not there to pay full retail either. I’m looking for a good deal when I shop. Therefore on my eBay paintings I use cotton canvas that’s already stretched which I buy in bulk. However, the linen I use for my studio and gallery work is titanium oil primed canvas that’s hand applied that I purchase by the roll. I also have extra wide and heavier stretcher bars for these works. I then stretch the canvas myself or hire it out on occasion. So that right there makes the work more expensive even before I apply a single brush stroke to the canvas. Like any business keeping costs down while still retaining value must be considered as is the market you wish to reach.

Below is a side by side comparison of the backs of the canvas I use.

llinen and cotton canvas comparison

The canvas on the left is linen with some of the excess canvas stretched to the back. The canvas on the right is the cotton canvas I use for my eBay work. The texture of canvas also effects the visual appearance of the paintings. Here is a view of the texture of the canvases I use.

linen canvas texture

cotton canvas texture

The top image is the linen I use and in my opinion offers the ability to apply more detail as it’s more responsive to my brush work and I like the appearance of the weave. The cotton below that, is less responsive to my brush, thereby my technique is slightly more impressionistic for my eBay work but still retaining some degree of detail. I’m personally not as fond of cotton duck canvas due to it’s uniform texture. This is simply my personal taste and in some instances a more uniform texture may be favored. I did review some samples of heavier grades of cotton that is oil primed by the same company that I use for my linen. (AE Art Canvas) The canvas was quite nice in texture and appearance and is a premium product as well.

In times past I’ve shown some of my plein air work which is definitely impressionistic along with my more detailed work. Here are two examples.

oil study landscape near Cundiyo, NM by William Hagerman copyrighted

This scene was painted on location near Cundiyo, New Mexico and the oil sketch of blue silos painted below was near Fredericskburg, TX. I’ve kept these for myself and hang on my studio wall. They bring back to my mind two very pleasant painting experiences while enjoying the outdoors.

oil sketch of blue silos by William Hagerman copyrighted

When I’ve shown my impressionistic works such as these along with my studio or gallery work, some individuals favored these over the detailed work.The purpose of showing them here is to highlight that the work I do for eBay is somewhat of a cross between my impressionistic plein air work and my more detailed studio paintings. It’s just one more way to reach out to more people with my art who have varying tastes in style.

Artists are also individuals and they to may wish to express their talents by painting in other styles. Some even like to paint abstractly as a total break from their detailed work. I’ve been tempted to do that myself. If I ever do I’ll share those with you.

To view what paintings I have currently available you can visit my eBay profile page.


How to Improve your Oil Painting by Creating a Story

Another title for this post could be When the Subject isn’t the Subject in a Painting. What do I mean?

The best way to answer that is with an example. Years ago I saw a painting that is an excellent example of what I’m talking about by artist Oleg Stavrowsky titled: Something’s Funny as seen here.

An example of good story telling by artist Oleg Stavrowsky

When you look at it, your eye will travel to the cowboy on the far left, holding his cowboy hat with his extended arm.  From a compositional point of view, he’s the main subject of the painting. Or is he?

The real subject of the painting is not what’s in the painting, but what is going on outside our view that is making these cowboys laugh and take notice. We become engaged as well, wondering what it is that’s making them laugh. It’s a story line that we can take part in. Not that every painting has to tell a story, but it should not be overlooked how an implied story can emotionally engage your viewer. So don’t underestimate the value of how to improve your oil painting by creating a story in your own art work as well as improving the marketability of it.

Selling Art On eBay Part Two

art for sale sign

In part one of How to Sell Art on eBay, I discussed the reason why eBay could be looked at as a viable avenue for artists, in having another stream of income added to their marketing mix. In this post I’ll describe a little more about what I did and what you will need to do in order to sell art on eBay.
First set up your eBay account if you don’t already have one. When it comes to setting up your user name, don’t use something obscure. Such a name does nothing in helping to brand your artist name. So use your artist name. If it’s too long like mine I used the more unusual part of my name and that’s my last name Hagerman. So I used hagermanart which also coincides with my website address.
Next I decided I wanted to offer works only in the 9×12 size or smaller. I normally use linen for my studio works, but to keep canvas cost down and time spent on stretching, I ordered pre stretched cotton canvas from Sunbelt Manufacturing in Longview, TX. They offer a medium weave, portrait and gallery wrap styles at a fraction of what you would normally pay.
Next in order to make this eBay venture successful I needed to reduce painting time. To do that, I’m working with a technique whereby I block my work in with acrylic and over paint with oil highlights and embellishments. Again, this is a whole different product than my gallery work. Not only in materials, but, technique and time spent. I liken them to studies and sketches. Some of these have allowed me to experiment with ideas, and even try out different color schemes. They are still art works in their own right, but not on the same level as my regular stuff which is more detailed. Remember they’re a whole different fruit. However, in so doing these new clients have also become aware of my other studio works. I send a card along with their shipment featuring my studio work and web address and contact info along with a personal handwritten note.
Next you’ll want to get your shipping supplies in order. I ordered free regular priority mail boxes online from the post office ( to ship my work in. You could also pick some up at your local post office. You will also need a good postal scale to weigh your packages. I won a brand new digital scale from an eBay auction for next to nothing.  I also ordered from eBay some shrink wrap and some poly bags to package my art with. In so doing and paying promptly I got some positive feedback which you want. That’s imperative to establishing yourself as trustworthy. Vow to never receive anything but positive feedback. Think GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE as your motto whether you’re selling or buying. Negative feedback can be death to your business. You may want to consider separating personal purchases with another account and keep your business separate and not mix the two if you’re concerned with privacy as other people can look at your feedback profile and see what you’ve purchased.
Also when it comes time to list your work, take good clear digital photos. This is what viewers are going to judge your work by. Bad photos may mean no bids. There should be no camera flash glare. Square them up. Crop out any unnecessary background using a photo editor program. You’re a professional so present it professionally.
In your eBay account you will go to the section on selling. The category you will want to list in is art direct from the artist. Write a good description for the title using good keywords for your art so people can find you. Think about what you would do to search for a particular type of art and if you didn’t know the artists name, how would you search for it? Don’t write a “beautiful joyous day under the clouds”. The only valid word would be clouds. Someone might search for that if they wanted a painting featuring that. Use those other adjectives in the descriptive field where you will write about your work.
Also set your work as an auction with a starting bid of only a penny. Did I hear you gasp in horror? That’s right I said a penny. Don’t set a reserve amount or bother with a buy now option. Why? People who go to eBay are looking for a deal. Not to pay full retail. They are not there to buy but to WIN. Setting your auction at only a penny encourages bidding. When someone else notices a bid they sometimes want what other people want so they too want to bid, but then the other person doesn’t want to lose so they bid again and so on. This is what has the potential to drive the price up and up. So far in my own experience the results have varied in winning bids from $41-$400. I still consider this as being positive for just starting out. In part one of selling art on eBay I mentioned that within just the first 30 days, 13 paintings sold with a retail of nearly $2000. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results, but, if you’re prolific enough in offering several pieces each week you increase the potential amount of your earnings. Also set the time of your auction to run for 7 days and set the start and end time to 6PM Pacific Time. I first chose Friday evenings, but many people are out and about on Fridays, so I switched to Sunday. If you have multiple offerings, select the start and end times for each auction item 5 minutes apart. The reason is if someone misses out on one item they may have time to bid on another of your works.
If you were going to strive to use eBay as a primary source in your marketing, it would be best to have 4-6 artworks to sell each week.  I try to at least have something every week, but life happens and I may not get something out due to other priorities. However, if you’re going to do this, don’t give up or quit too soon. Do it with a mind set of sticking with it. In essence you’re trying to develop a side business with your art that can help get your name out, but do it just as professionally as your other endeavors and realize it may take some time to get noticed. Even if you do not want to develop it as a side business, you could look at it as a means to an end. For example: You want to make a painting trip or to scout out galleries in other cities and you would like to fund the project, eBay could help you to achieve that goal.
There’s a lot more to this and I’m not trying to write a book on it because there’s already one out there that’s very good. What I have just shared includes some of the points that I learned from the book “The Mystique of Marketing Art on eBay” written by Jack White. If you think selling art on eBay would be of interest to you I would suggest buying his book. I did. It’s an easy read and it’s short and gets to the heart of the matter. Reading it will help you from making needless mistakes that could hinder your success. The tips you will learn from this book will save you time and disappointment and help you decide whether or not eBay is a good fit for you. You can take a look here as well as Jack White’s other marketing books.
If I have something listed on eBay at this particular time, you can see an example of how I set my listing up by visiting and click on one of the listings. If nothing is listed, I’m probably working on a studio painting.
Hope this will help you consider selling art on eBay as an alternative to taking on a “regular” job should circumstances lead you to consider that as an option or simply consider it as an added revenue stream to your current art marketing mix or as a means to fund some other art endeavor.
If you have other thoughts about using eBay or you’ve had experiences with it, negative or positive, please share.

How to Sell Art on eBay Part One

It’s undeniable that eBay has all but become a household word with a worldwide audience. Many are making their livelihoods through it or using it as a means to unload what’s overflowing in their garage or storage. But, can an artist make a living or supplement their income by selling their art on eBay? The answer is yes, but it will likely take an adjustment in attitude as it did mine for any hope of success. Read on to find out.

No Yes Maybe sign with art work background
I never considered eBay in selling art; after all I’ve been a professional artist for 30 plus years, I show my work in galleries and I’ve had one person shows in a museum setting with my landscape paintings consistently selling for several thousand dollars. So why would I consider it? Because it’s another potential stream of income you can add to your marketing mix.
Another reason is this: If you read my other post titled Pricing and the Value of Art, I mentioned the art market. As with any type of market it too will fluctuate. Sometimes an artist can’t keep up with the demand, other times the market slows for various reasons such as a downtown in the overall economy, and those wonderful sales have now slowed to a crawl, but your bills haven’t. They just keep on coming and seem to multiple like rabbits all the while your savings are disappearing like green grass during a drought.
So what is an artist to do? Some artists feel forced into taking on a “regular” job to pay their bills, or other part time work, knowing this can often leave little time for their art and sap their creativity. Or they can look into other potential streams of income using their art. Many artists, teach art, write art books whether hard print or electronic, have prints, cards and so forth,  or they even start hitting the art show circuit in an effort to put their work before more people. Each of these has their own costs involved and some more so than others to make them pay off.  However, in making choices, try to work smarter, not harder.
I knew for myself that I already had a full plate, but I wanted to add another source of income into the mix, so that if one income stream slowed I could fall back on another for a time to compensate. I think that’s called not keeping all your eggs in one basket. What I wanted was something that could be done without a lot of cost in overhead, time or leave me spent of my creativity, but at the same time advertise my work and get my name out there before a larger audience.
This is where eBay entered the picture. You might think; “I don’t know how to sell art on ebay,” or “Oh I could never do that. That would be beneath me to put my art on eBay. That’s selling out!” OK fine. Go fill out a job application and take on extra work as your other income stream and one which you’ll probably hate. Or you can adjust your attitude towards eBay as I did.
Maybe this will peak your interest. In just a little over the first 30 days of my eBay experience, I put up 13 small paintings, sold all 13 and retailed nearly $2000.00. I now have new collectors, I’ve shipped work out to two different states and within the local area I have sold to new clients who have never purchased work from me before. Additionally in reviewing the bidding history,and the bidder’s area codes I have seen bidders in the United States from the North, South, East and West. This means my art work and name has been put before others that I have not met or who have unlikely been in one of my galleries, but who are now familiar with my work.  Instead of spending $2000 on advertising hoping for a return on investment, I felt like I was getting paid to advertise instead! Also the amount of time and cost to my creative energy was less than what it would have been if I decided as an alternative income stream to take on part time work that’s unrelated to art.
However, I was not going to sell my regular gallery work on eBay. That I knew for certain. The materials and time I spend on creating those would make my overhead too high with not enough return, plus I did not want to undermine my gallery sales. So I decided to create another product which kept my costs down, but still produced a great product that would be a good match for an eBay audience. I liken it to a sketch, study or plein air work, that is not a part of my gallery work. Some of you artists may already have alternative works in the way of sketches or plein air studies that are not a part of your regular studio work or that you would be selling in your galleries, yet are nice art works in their own right. We’re not comparing apples to apples here. They’re a totally different fruit and you may already have a studio full of them.  If they’re not of a particular use to you anymore why not sell them? Shouldn’t you at least be able to get something back from your labor and have the advantage of creating a little more studio space in the process? Would you give a thumbs down to a sketch by Rembrandt just because it wasn’t his “regular” work? I don’t think so, so don’t give a thumbs down to your own work. Alternatively, can you use your talent to make a product that differs from your regular if you don’t have a studio full of alternative work that can help advertise your name while still providing a great value to your eBay audience? Think about it.

In Part Two of Selling Art on eBay, I will discuss what I did and what you would need to do in order to sell your own art on eBay. Plus I’ll tell you about a great book I read that helped change my point of view as well as serving as a valuable guide to eBay selling.

Some Do Not Do’s When Selling Art

Another title for this post could be “Prairie Dogs Can’t Sell Art.” Please read on.

My wife and I attended Septemberfest in Midland, Texas, which is an annual outdoor art festival on the grounds of the Museum of the Southwest to enjoy an afternoon of art and music. We also enjoyed watching a young child of about 6 dancing his little heart out in front of the stage. He wasn’t a scheduled performer, but he still took a bow and received clapping from the audience. That held our smile longer than anything that day.

As we made our way through the booth exhibits I couldn’t help but think about some of the Do Not Do’s when it comes to selling art that I learned from two marketing books written by Jack White, titled: “The Mystery of Making It” and “The Magic of Selling Art.” Before I elaborate on these books let me first tell you about what we experienced at the art festival.

One of the first booths that we went to was by an artist working in graphite pencil with western subject matter. We said hello to the artist first. My wife asked if she was the artist. I asked where she was from. The conversation was one sided. I took a liking to one of the small works of a well drawn horse head located at the bottom edge of her exhibit. I said out loud how I liked it. My wife also mentioned out loud which work she liked. I continued to look at the other artist’s work and then went back to the horse head drawing and said to my wife again out loud and pointing with my arm extended and finger pointing “I like that one!” The artist never got off her perch she was sitting on, nor offered to pick the work up so I could see it better, nor told me anything else that would tell me about the work, or why it was created or if it had any special meaning. NOTHING!! Helloooo, anybody home?? I can just imagine the artist saying in her mind “Oh I hope he buys it.” My wife did buy a set of $5 note cards from her to send to her brother. Actually she didn’t buy it from her, she just selected something off the card display rack and handed it to her to purchase it.

Another exhibitor was talking on her cell phone. She momentarily stopped to make some mention about her jewelry work and that it was done in sterling silver (I think) at which point she went back to her conversation on the phone.  OK. Bye, Bye.

Then we came upon an exhibitor with handcrafted wood boxes with different inlays of wood. We like boxes. Boxes with lids and drawers oh my! You can’t help but lift one to see what’s inside. The artist was sitting back in his booth. Never said a greeting, hello, welcome, thanks for stopping by, get out of my booth, drop dead. NOTHING!! However, I did learn he wasn’t mute because before we left his booth I did over hear him say to another artist, “Well, it looks like things are slowing down.” Good grief Charlie Brown.

Another exhibitor exuberantly popped forward and said “If there’s anything I can help you with, let me know,” and then quickly retreated into the recesses of their exhibit booth. Kind of reminded me of a Prairie Dog, who popped his little head out of his hole in the ground, sensed danger and retreated. Prairie Dogs can’t sell art either.

The above examples are of what NOT to do if you want to sell your work. My wife bought the note cards and I also bought a necklace for my wife at the festival, but that’s because she already has a good eye for jewelry, when it’s well made, at a good price and even better when it’s at a bargain price. I like that. But, the sell didn’t happen because of any special assistance on the part of the artisan.

I wonder how many of the above artists belly ached over how awful sales were and that they’d probably never be back to this festival because of people who have no appreciation for art. Where’s the appreciation of those who paid their fee to attend the festival, have to park a considerable distance and then walk some more through the maze of tents on a hot afternoon and then when we do come to a particular booth, we’re ignored? I know it costs artists to go and do these kind of shows, and it’s a lot of work to set up, but they decided to be there, so drop the attitude that those who attend should all bow and hail booth number 10 in the southwest corner. (Don’t know if there was such a booth, but sometimes you get that feeling of attitude floating around in the air although you do get some pleasant breezes by artisans who at least try.)

Perhaps this comes from artists who are gifted at their craft, but terribly lacking in knowing how to sell or jump-start a conversation. We’re not talking high pressure used car salesman tactics. No one likes to be sold. No one says, I’m going to go and be sold a car. Or I’m going to go and be sold a painting. No, they say I’m going to go and “Buy” a painting or I’m going to go and “Buy” a car. Effective selling is helping a person to buy what they want and be happy about doing so while giving them reassurance that they’ve made a good decision and that the art is going to enrich their life.

That’s where the above mentioned books were eye opening and instructive. The author, Jack White is a professional artist and was selected as State Artist of Texas in the 1970’s. He’s also husband to artist Mikki Senkarik. The first book I read was the Mystery of Making It. The heart of the book is the story of how with his guidance he catapulted the sales of his wife’s paintings starting in 1990 and went past three million in retail sales for her before the year 2000.
I also learned something about how much work to show at a time that actually helped to increase sales and what number of works caused sales to drop.
Then I read his Magic of Selling Art.  This is where he teaches you how to ‘soft sell’ and do so without ever resorting to lying to your customers. Basically it’s how to engage visitors to your exhibits or shows by asking them questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. Too many artists and even gallery personnel will greet a customer with “Is there anything I can help you with?” The general reply is “no we’re just looking.” They cut you off so as not to be sold. But if you ask them a question such as “Where are you folks from or with so many attending the festival where did you find a place to park? That’s a lovely necklace or handsome watch, where did you get it? Essentially people like to talk about themselves when someone else genuinely wants to know. A dialogue is started and in the process you may get to know their likes. They see you smile at them. They start to like you. Ask another question. What kind of art do you collect? If they linger looking at a piece ask: What do you like about that piece or where are you thinking of hanging this little gem? Essentially you’re working them towards closing a sale without their being “sold.”

I liken the advice from Jack’s books, not to that of a bald headed man trying to sell amazing hair growth tonic, but to someone with true to life examples in the art of selling. His and his wife’s experiences and what worked for them, written by an artist for artists. By the way, Jack also has a full set of hair.

Here’s the link to review his series of books on his wife’s website that if you’re an artist or in any field in which you have to sell something, you’ll benefit from reading.

In an upcoming post I will write about his book “The Mystique of Marketing Art on eBay” and my own recent experiences following the advice I learned in this book.

Pricing and the Value of Art


Have you ever watched the Antiques Road Show? When we have time my wife and I love watching it.  It’s always interesting to see the “wow” reactions when an item has great value or the disappointed look when a person learns their item isn’t as popular as it was a few years ago and now it’s not valued as much.

This also reminds me of the housing market. Sometimes the same house is valued at one price and then higher or lower at other times even within the span of a year or two. What drives the value? The market.

You’ve heard the term the “art market.” Is it any different? A while back I was visiting in a gallery and discussing different buying patterns or trends. In his gallery he said if a painting had a cowboy hat in it, he couldn’t sell it, unlike what it was previously when western art was very popular. He also mentioned other subjects that weren’t doing as well or as popular as they had been.

I thought again about the Antiques Road Show and how the market drove the price and the perceived value of something depending on the genre’s popularity. An artist may be faced with a dilemma in pricing art when an artist who might be painting a particular genre that’s popular at the time and is selling well, may suddenly finds sales have slowed and then realize the subject is not as popular as it was, yet the quality of the painting is still the same.  Perhaps during this “good” time an artist’s work appreciated in value and price. I’ve heard it said that artists can go up on their prices but can never come down. I’m wondering why not? When the market goes soft, do we just leave our prices the same and not raise them for a period and then just hope things pick up before the savings run out or perish the thought take on extra work outside of our artistic passion of painting, so we  can feed our family and pay the bills? Or do we adjust our prices to mirror what the market will bear?

Would doing so break some cardinal rule? Would it make our collectors unhappy if we had to lower our prices?  For those who invest in art and perhaps bought with the hope of prices going up, do not most who invest in things whether real-estate or art  know that what’s true of any other investments there’s always a risk the prices can fluctuate in response to the market? Or would they be thrilled that they can buy more of your work and when the market returns, they’re collection will be of even greater value? I was told by someone attending one of my art shows that they had wished they bought one of my paintings when they had a chance before my prices had risen.  What if due to a soft market the prices of the paintings were lowered and are now once again affordable for them?

Pricing in general has always been an issue for an artist with so many factors to consider. Some price paintings by the square inch. Perhaps with a slightly higher dollar amount for small works and a slightly lower one for large works to keep them all within a reasonable range. However, if one painting by an artist features mostly  sky, verses a painting of the same size with a complex composition of say a flower market scene that includes some type or building architecture, do you price it the same just because it’s of the same size? What about aesthetic values? Some paintings have a greater appeal and for that reason have a higher perceived value and naturally the price would reflect that or so one would think.

Well what do you think? If you’re a collector and love to buy art, but the overall art market is soft would you be upset if an artist’s prices were lower than before or be pleased to purchase more?

Artists; how do you manage your prices? Do have a system in which you use that has proved successful during downturns in the economy? How have you had to adjust? I would love to hear your comments.