Daily Paintworks (DPW) | About DPW

Why are people selling their art so cheaply?


(J. Dunster) #81

There is a widely known meme among artists (and musicians, writers), “I don’t work for exposure.” There are videos on this, websites, everything. Regularly we are expected to give away our work, sell it for a pittance, and be grateful for it.

Only in the arts do buyers expect rock bottom prices (or free!) in exchange for “exposure” (which usually is not worth anything). No other profession has that expectation.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be aware of what the market is paying these days. I consider my prices to be very reasonable. Well, let’s be honest, they’re low. I have other places where I sell larger pieces and they sell at a more competitive rate, but even then, I’m an “emerging” artist so none of my prices are high. On DPW I can sell small pieces, “studies,” and “Studio Clearance” paintings for lower and bring in a little extra cash. DPW has been very good to me.

When deciding how to price my work here, I looked around at what others were selling (here and elsewhere) and priced accordingly. I have gradually been raising my prices as the years pass, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, as your skill level (and, hopefully, career) rise. I’m very grateful to sell, but am pragmatic about it. I don’t want to price super low, but don’t want to price myself out of the market (here) either.

I don’t do auctions at all, because even though I sell regularly on average, sometimes it takes a while for a particular piece to sell. Some paintings wait over a year or more before they sell. I’d prefer to hang on to the painting for a while (since most of the paintings I have here are small, it’s not like they take up a lot of room) than give them away for pennies. It’s not like the piece is worthless, it just needs extra time to find the buyer who will appreciate it. I want to give it that time. The auction system can be a great system for some people, but I balk at giving away anything I’ve done, which is a risk I’d run with the auction.


(David Kuhn) #82

More than that, they generally have spouses who take on half the work load, and the art is an enterprise they both participate in as partners. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s a wholly different model than what a one person operation has to deal with, so advice from them is of an extremely limited value.

I agree with you.

A big part of the problem, that’s impossible to fix, is that because of the internet the supply now outweighs the demand on a cosmic scale.

Thirty years ago, if you wanted a painting for your house, your only option was a handful of local dealers, right? And they could act like a local oligopoly and keep prices up. Now we have access to millions of artists across the globe. It’s like on TV, the highest rated shows of today get half the viewers of what the worst rated shows did decades ago because we have 900 channels and Netflix and Youtube.

It looks like the people who flourish are the ones who can sell more than a painting. They sell a brand, a lifestyle even, and personality.

Also, they sell time in their presence via workshops. Everytime I see someone blog/tweet about a workshop, they mention very little about the painting, but go on about how great it was spend a few hours (or days) with so-and-so.

If you’ve got personal charm and a partner in your enterprise, it’s easy street.


(Joseph Mahon) #83

Nothing is easy street IMO. I am sure those people have had to work hard to get there, re personality, workshops and exposure. I do agree with you, it’s a whole different dynamic to try and sell online. It’s very difficult indeed. I have seen thousands of likes for art work or even a bland photo on Instagram and Facebook and other works of merit only a few likes. It can be very frustrating for all others who are not so well known. One just has to keep going and see how all this pans out.


(David Kuhn) #84

Sure, they work hard, but they have only half the workload of solo operations. Makes a difference. I talked to a guy once whose wife handled everything related to his website and PR, because that was her professional background. How great it was to not only have her take care of all that for him, but for free, too.

Easy street.


(J. Dunster) #85

It’s hard to sell online, but in my experience, harder to sell in person. I used to belong to a co-op gallery (in large part because I wanted to use the studio space to work) and I basically never sold anything out of that gallery. I had to remove things off the wall of the brick-and-mortar gallery to ship to collectors who bought the painting via DPW. I loved the co-op gallery but it just didn’t sell for me. People complimented my work there, but nobody really bought. Only online have I had any luck at all.


(Bob Kimball) #86

Well I just got back on DPW after many months of being away. I was hoping it would help with my sales which have never been worse. But I can see now that it’s not happening here either. I haven’t even come close to making a sale yet. I’m a solo operation, like many others are, so it’s not an easy thing to do.
I’m finally getting into a gallery at the arts district downtown and hope to make some sales there. I think online sales are tanking since there’s everybody and their cousin selling art online nowadays, it’s so hard to even be seen at all. Well unless your a marketing expert of course.


(Bob Kimball) #87

Also, one of the reasons I got off DPW was that I was making a few sales only because I had them on auction, but winners of the auctions weren’t paying after the auction ended. I think some people might think this is some kind of online game or something, like playing spider solitaire. I guess they think you can win and then not pay just for the fun of it.


(Sunny Avocado) #88

Hey Bob, long time no see. Please let us know how the local gallery works out! Good luck!


(Lori Twiggs) #89

Im a little dismayed as well. I just checked and currently there are 2048 auctions but only 16 active bidding. 16! Where are the buyers?


(Andrea Jeris) #90

Perhaps the trend is for “Buy it Now”?


(Lori Twiggs) #91

I just did some research from the " Whats Selling" page and it appears that Etsy is the popular selling / buying venue.


(Carol Marine) #92

I am guessing @purplehaze is right about the trend being away from auctions. My and David’s guess is Amazon Prime is changing people’s expectations with having what you want quickly just as Google did with searching.


(Rosemary Antel) #93

I am curious as to how you determined that Etsy is the popular selling/buying venue using the “Whats Selling” page. Am I missing something when I look at the “Whats Selling” page? Can you enlighten me?


(Valerie Smith) #94

I only sell my prints cheaply. I never sell the original cheap.


(Lori Twiggs) #95

Rosemary, first I went to the “Whats Selling” page. Then I click on a still life (since that is my primary genre) and go to that artists gallery. If they have a good number of sales, I check to see what platform they are using. If they dont have a good number of sales, I move on to the next one. Just loose research.

Not very scientific but it satisfied my curiosity. :slight_smile:


(Rosemary Antel) #96

Lori, I think that is very clever. I had not thought of using the data that way, but it makes sense. Since I have only been on DPW since January, I have a lot to learn about maximizing the usefulness of the site. Now I must check out landscapes, as i usually paint more of those. So it would be interesting for me to see the sales of other landscape painters in the same way.


(David Crowell) #97

Is “cheaply” priced work what is actually selling? The “What’s Selling” tab shows us what works have sold, but not what prices they sold for. So does anyone know if the sales trend is towards the extreme low price?

What is the average selling price on DPW? What is “too cheap” for a small, daily painting? How much should we be asking?

These are the sort of questions this type of thread always raises for me.


(Connie McLennan) #98

You can survey and publish the factors considered and the range of prices people report getting as general “guidelines”; but independent artists colluding to determine a minimum price or specific recommendations for what things “should” sell for (i.e., any perceived attempt at price-fixing) would violate anti-trust laws.


(Karen Robinson) #99

Having just read through this entire thread, I am doubtful whether my opinion will really add anything, but here goes: going back to the original question “why are people selling their art so cheaply?” I can only ask, for myself, what is the definition of “cheap”?
How much am I supposed to be charging?
The way I look at it is this: how much am I prepared to accept in exchange for this painting? That is the price I start my auction at. Invariably, that is the price it sells at (if it sells), I also offer a buy it now option.
It has ALWAYS been notoriously difficult to make money from painting. Also from music and writing, by the way. I read somewhere that in the UK even for published authors whose names are well known, it is rare to average more than £12k a year from writing.
I am always so grateful to sell a painting, which sounds pathetic but it’s not meant to. For someone to part with their hard earned money for my painting, I feel it is an honour.
I sold on eBay for a while and hated it. I had a customer once who demanded (and eBay gave her) a refund b3cause she said the painting she bought - exactly as photographed and displayed on the site - was “materially not as described” and I was so terribly upset.
On DPW all my experiences have been good ones and the buyers have been lovely. I also feel that DPW is supportive of me whereas eBay were horrid.
This is important as painting is a lonely business.
And, perhaps, if I persevere and paint more I will in time paint better and then maybe will sell more. Hopefully.


(Sunny Avocado) #100

I also sell on ebay and know that it is a potential that buyers can do that. I used to sell quite a lot of abstracts but ebay has decided I am not relevant and am now buried. So I am selling ACEOs now on ebay. Ya know, it’s never enough but some and I appreciate that.

I feel much better about DPW site and there is a sense of community and support. I’ve learned so much from the Marines too. But I also am looking for any/all avenues to sell otherwise I’d have a real pileup as I now have of abstracts.

And I love your profile pic Karen!