Yesterday, Tony Max wrote, “I have dozens of galleries handling my work. How do you prevent dealers from giving significant discounts when they sell your consigned work, thus depreciating it in the eyes of your other dealers and your trusting followers?” Thanks, Tony. You might consider asking your discounting dealers to phone you when they’re thinking of giving someone a deal. This request makes dealers aware of your ownership rights and often helps them to make sales. My limit is about 10%, and there are four main reasons I consider giving a discount: The customer is buying more than one of my paintings. The customer is a regular and loyal supporter of the gallery. The customer is a registered charity or non-profit entity. The customer is my mom.
Since the advent of the Internet, savvy customers soon find an artist’s standard prices and scout the best prices across an artist’s stable of dealers. Further, they quickly note dealers who offer work with the prices fudged up. This false pricing or profiteering is defended by some dealers to give them wiggle room for further discounting. It may seem like smart marketing, but the practice tends to make it more difficult for the fudging dealers to do business. Gently encourage your dealers to stick by your standard, published prices.
Many folks who collect art are hardwired for deal-making. Particularly these days, some tough customers feel both artists and dealers are vulnerable and try to get them to really sharpen their pencils. Very often these customers can be satisfied if the dealer throws in the frame or absorbs any sales taxes or shipping charges. To their credit, some dealers never budge. Good dealers manage our mutual business with integrity. Further, quite a few cash deals are floating around these days. Folks, particularly those who receive cash in the underground economy are walking in with bundles and demanding discounts. I feel this is the dealer’s business, and I don’t interfere with it, but I still expect to be paid the proper amount by cheque. Genn’s Law No. 1 says, “When taxes are seen to go high, buyer morality is seen to go low.” Incidentally, Genn’s law No. 2 says, “The more you pay your accountant, the less you pay the government.” It’s really a very pleasant and balanced world when you think about it.
PS: “I’m quite encouraged at our success and have to thank you for the good management that has produced it.” (Winslow Homer to his dealer, Gustav Reichard)
Esoterica: One of my dealers recently had a customer who low-balled one of my better paintings. I suggested we take the painting off the market, and the dealer reluctantly sent it back to my studio. The customer, with all his bluff, came back to the gallery, found the painting missing from the place it had hung for several weeks, and hastily bought another and paid the full price. Two excellent things a dealer can say to a customer are, “Yes, you can have it,” and “I’m sorry, it’s gone.”
This letter was originally published as “Discounting your art” on February 15, 2011.
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“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” (Warren Buffett)
The move to Northern California spurred my desire to paint the landscape – motivated in part by the fear that I would wake up one day and it would all be gone! I had some kind of doomsday concern, tantamount to extreme climate change or bombs going off like Hiroshima —something drastic.
The Wildfires of 2017 were traumatic, we experienced three on our land that year.
In processing the fire experiences and living with the constant awareness that what happened then can happen again. I produced a short film entitled:: From the Ashes – Fire, Survival. and Renewal, about how our community responded to the Redwood Complex Fire 2017.The is film available for free screenings to community fire councils and art institutions. I am working on part two.
In 2020, largely due to the ensuing California wildfires, we chose to sell our 195 acre place and move back to the East Coast, where our families live and we are creating a new life and farm.
I am still witnessing and interpreting the landscape.
Jaye Alison Moscariello