Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Bargains, Super Savings, Deals, Discounts -- do these belong in the art world? According to a group of friends, they do.

I have only participated in one art show, back in 2001. A lot of hard work and preparation were involved, and I'm talking just about the show itself, not about the job of creating the art. I have yet to do another show. I am thinking about it, though.

I do attend art shows and fairs. I love them. They are very entertaining and a great place to buy original art. The vast majority of artwork in my home has come from these shows. Most have come from our local show - the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. This is a rather upscale show consisting of approximately 325 artists. If you can't find something at this festival, there is most definitely something wrong with you.

I don't ever recall asking for a bargain. I've never asked the artist, "Hey, is this your best price". If I want it, and can afford it, I pay the artist and walk away happy. Many artists do offer a small discount if more than one item is purchased. Most will post this information in their booth.

I have been asked for bargains. Sometimes I have lowered my prices. I had an Ebay purchaser buy 7 items once. I gave a very small discount and free shipping. This buyer has purchased a few other items over the past couple of years. Recently, the buyer wanted one of my older pieces and requested a 20% discount. Since it was an older piece and since she has purchased 10 other pieces, I happily granted her request. I once did grant a requested discount on a commission. Four large pieces were required and a small discount (10%) was granted. That was a mistake on my part. A commission requires a great deal of extra time, supplies, and manual labor. I should have requested more money from them. Live and learn.

Recently, I was at a gathering with a few friends and we discussed craft shows. Some of these friends had been to our local show and purchased several items. Everyone in the room, except me, thought that a 10% discount should be granted no matter what. An even greater discount should be expected when several items are purchased. I politely disagreed, but my voice could not be heard over the dissent. Am I wrong?

Why should we expect artists to give an upfront discount? We don't go into Target and demand discounts. We don't haggle making online Gap purchases. Why should we do this to artists? I know this kind of bargaining exists at flea markets and yard sales, but isn't it insulting to equate an artist's work with a pile of used clothing, broken furniture, and questionable appliances? Would a person interested in buying a piece of art walk away when learning they can't get a discount?

My undisclosed (mental) policy is:

I give a shipping discount for purchasing more than one item through my Website, Ebay, or Etsy.

I will give repeat customers discounts, although not every time.

I will no longer give discounts on commissioned work.

If I were to do an art show, I would give a small discount on multiple purchases, perhaps 5%.

If someone demands a discount for a single piece of work, I will call them the pig they are and turn my back. Ha Ha. This is where I need some assistance.

Has anyone out there participated in an art show? What do you do if a discount is requested?


Tracy Helgeson said...

Buyers asking for deals is exactly why I stopped handling my own sales. It just ticks me off. I haven't had anyone ask for a discount on the work on my new blog, but none will be given is someone does ask.

Buyers in galleries usually expect a discount and 10% is standard and is then split between the artist and the gallery. I don't usually ok more than that, although I could if I wanted to.

I have occasionally seen signs in artist's booths saying something along the lines of "prices are firm" which may discourage some from trying to negotiate with you and might eliminate the stress involved with being asked.

I have NEVER asked an artist for a discount.

paula said...

I know...I agree...
Next time someone asks you for a discount tell them it already is discounted HA! Or tell them this is wholesale price and then make up some humongous number and tell them that is the retail price.
It's like the car lot world, everyone assumes we have marked things up, but for what purpose? There is no middle man when we sell it ourselves.

Kim Hambric said...

Thanks for the comments. I had no idea that galleries normally gave a discount. Boy, am I a sucker or what?

I like the "already discounted" idea. Frankly, it is already discounted.

On the way home from a trip, I stopped to use the restroom at a Sheetz. Posted above the sink was a sign that read that one could make over $9.00/hr at Sheetz. Geez, that's more than I make.

Nellie's Needles said...

Only very good personal friends who have a history of being generous themselves and family get any discount from me. Really, I would rather give my art away to special people in my life than be paid less than it's worth by strangers. I haven't yet experienced a gallery giving discounts on my work ... or at least I haven't had to take less if they have. My written agreements with them state the individual amount that I get for each piece they sell.

Fibra Artysta said...

I have never asked for a discount nor will I give one. There is so much that goes into our work, I don't think its something that should even be considered. I'm amazed that people will try to haggle with artists at art sales, the thought has never even crossed my mind.

Anonymous said...

I have given a corporate client a discount when she bought six pieces at once, figuring that the work will be displayed in a public area and the exposure would be well worth the tradeoff.

I have never had a gallery discount my work. I think that's a terrible precedent. Asking for a discount is simply rude and obnoxious. Either you love the work or you don't. If you haven't made enough of a personal connection with a piece to pay the asking price, then you should just move on.