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Why would you use "Contact Artist for Price"?

(Gary Westlake) #1

I don’t understand why many artists list the price as “Contact Artist”. What happens next? Say a potential buyer calls you and says “Would you take $10 for it?” The ensuing discussion would probably upset both artist and buyer. Or the buyer says “What do you want for it?” and the artist says $8000. The buyer is now upset because he or she did not realize the artist was in the Precious category. Maybe I am missing something. Why would you not set a price?

(Connie McLennan) #2

I am under the impression that most marketing people recommend not making prices a mystery. A DPW article suggests posting prices for best response. Nevertheless, some members here and many (if not most) gallery and artists’ websites do not list prices. My guesses for why that is are:

  • They wish to give the impression that “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” and not listing prices weeds out all but the most serious inquiries.
  • They haven’t committed to a firm price or pricing formula, want room to “feel-out” potential buyers and not be locked in to a posted price?
  • Or maybe they just don’t want the taint of filthy lucre alongside their Art?

Many of us struggle with pricing. Too low and we may appear unprofessional, less in-demand, etc. Yet calculated from a business model (meaning they include all expenses, our time, and some profit) the prices we “should” ask often are much higher than we can command if we want to sell. (I had problems with this in even in illustration, where commercial users expect to pay far more, but “fine art” is MUCH worse.) We hear we should start high, because it’s easier to come down than to raise prices. So posting prices means biting the bullet, coming up with a consistent strategy for determining them, and putting them out there. I, too, would be interested in hearing good reasons for not doing so.

(Gary Westlake) #3

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I would prefer to make art for everyone, not just the wealthy or corporations. More and more people are realizing that, because of the Internet and sites like DPW, for very reasonable investments they can replace those uninteresting IKEA prints on their walls with something real. I think the potential for sales, for happy buyers and and happy sellers, is huge. Think of all those walls out there that remain undecorated simply because their owners are either unaware of the opportunity or afraid to jump in. Keeping prices a mystery does not help break down barriers between artists and buyers. I may be over dramatic but I think this hurts us all. Think how many books Amazon would sell if they made the buyers guess the prices.

(Valerie Bassett) #4

One way to help determine what would be a fair offer for artwork would be to look at previously sold work. If an artist is established with regular sales, they may expect a little more. I go by size. $100 up to 5x7, $150 6x8, $200 8x10, $250 12x16, etc. This is the “safe” zone.

(Andrea Jeris) #5

I think some artists put their work on more than one site and they want to make sure it doesn’t sell in two places at the same time and maybe they sell it for different prices on different sites. Also one artist I get emails from says the art is sold but on DPW it shows as ask for price, then when you click on it it says sold but here are others to choose from. Kinda tricky.

(Peter Lentini) #6

There is nothing to understand, “Contact Artist” is nonsense. Either the artist posts a minimum bid for an auction, with or without a buy now price or simply posts the price. Otherwise the potential buyer is compromised and ultimately they risk embarrassment when they discover the price is high, which would most likely be the case.

(Stevie Denny) #7

I agree, Gary. My entire career was spent in direct marketing, and one thing I learned is that the more steps required of the buyer, the less likely they are to make a purchase. For me, if I see the “Contact Artist for Price”, I immediately move on. I just wouldn’t take the time to do it.

(David J. Teter) #8

I agree too. If you make the buyer work too hard less likely is the sale if at all. Whenever I can’t find the price quick I move on. And I encounter that frequently when buying online (not just art). Many sites say discounted price but you can’t see the price until you load the cart and go all the way through checkout, right before buy button.
For me, no price listed… bye bye!
The advantage of the online sale is lost at that point.

(Jeff Atnip) #9

Another reason that artists may do this is to grab your email address.

(Sharon Leah) #10

I’ve read that artists should expect to discount up to 25% and this would occur during negotiations with an interested buyer. However, I think this bit of advice is a carry over from the days when artists depended on galleries to sell their art work. Negotiations might also work for studio artists who have people dropping buy to visit and buy expensive art.

Joe Paquet, a well-known landscape artist, lives in my area. He prices his work in the $19,000 and up range, and he includes prices on his websiite. He also holds special events for collectors, during which he offers a discount on specific pieces. He may also discount on a regular basis (I don’t know). My point is that he is open with his pricing.

I can think of several reasons to avoid having to deal with email requests and negotiations. The biggest single reason is payment. I get paid on DPW before I ship a painting and I don’t have to worry about whether or not a check will clear or a credit card has available credit.

I agree with David and others that the buy process needs to be easy. For this reason, I also tend not to use the auction route. Auctions may work well for some people, and maybe some people do enjoy the game of buying through the actions.On the other hand, waiting several days between bidding and buying (or being outbid) can be very annoying. What I’ve observed here on DPW is that auctions are a way for people to buy good art CHEAP. Super cheap, when people start their auctions with $1 and pieces are sold for a small fraction of their value.

To avoid rambling, I’ll conclude by saying that I would not use “contact artist for price.” In my opinion, open pricing and PayPal pre-qualify buyers and remove barriers in the buy process. If they’re not willing to pay the stated price, they move on.

(Rafael DeSoto Jr.) #11

I would select “Contact Artist For Price” because I want to be contacted and explain to the potential buyer that the piece is framed and/or on exhibit therefore much more expensive than my unframed pieces.

(Dave Casey) #12

Coming from a real estate background I ALWAYS put prices on my ads and flyers in the box out front of the house. This is the best method for potential buyers to self-qualify themselves. If a couple were looking to buy a home and were pre-qualified for up to $250,000 and they saw one of my listings was priced at $400,000 they knew it was outside their price range. But, if my listing was priced at $275,000, they just might make an offer near the top of their range and some were lucky enough to get their offers accepted.

Same thing with artworks. If I am looking at art and I see a piece that I think would look nice on my walls, if it says “Contact seller for price,” I lose all interest in the piece right then. I don’t want the embarrassment of having $1000 to spend on a piece and having the artist come back and say it is $10,000.

As a side note, recently I stopped running auctions on Ebay and just went to a fixed price format. I set my prices at the full price I want for the piece, but then include the Make An Offer button on all my listings. I’ve sold a couple of pieces this way.

(Sunny Avocado) #13

I would like to know how he does that! The stuff I saw on the site is not worth that much.

(Sharon Leah) #14

I appreciate your question Sunny. It gives me an opportunity to expand on pricing. Joe prices his work as he does because he’s a professional and he has collectors who buy his art at those prices (or a price he negotiates with the buyer). He’s done his homework and continues to practice, and he’s worked more than 25 years as a professional. He also teaches and that is how I know him. I just started the second 12-week class with his Thursday night class.

The point I’m trying to make is that he’s a professional painter. He has to make a living at what he does and he takes his work seriously. It’s not a hobby. He’s not throwing paint at a panel/canvas and calling it a painting. He’s not sloppy, and his paintings hold together because he knows what he’s doing. That said…I left Daily Paintworks because people are selling their art for ridiculous prices – $1, $5, etc. This causes buyers to think they can buy art or $5, so why should they pay more? Those low prices hurt everyone.

Pricing is, of course, personal. I’ve started using a set amount of $3.50 per square inch, and I moved to FASO, where artists take themselves more seriously. I haven’t sold a painting, but that’s ok. I will. And when I do, I won’t be giving it away + paying postage to do it. I actually like a lot of things about Daily Paintworks, but I don’t like the way many artists undercut others. I realize my tone is assertive. It’s not directed at you. I’m just fed up with the status quo. We will prosper when artists take themselves more seriously, and that (for me) means pricing art so it supports artists work.

(Sunny Avocado) #15

Thanks @sharonleah, I like your work! I think artists on DPW are professional and perhaps some are pricing too low but if auction selling, the demand will dictate value. Some of the artists are probably so in love with painting that they are desperate to make it a full time gig or support themselves and are trying anything they can to make that happen. And the others maybe are happy with that much because they are beginners and it pays for the supplies (barely), and they are happy with the interest in their work.

All the art is different, it’s not like artists are selling the exact same thing at low price-then it would be true it has been de-valued. It takes all kinds to make the community, there are pieces at all kinds of prices from the beginner to the professional here with no two alike.

Good luck on your other site. Perhaps you could try both sites? Pricing your work as you do and if there is interest, it will sell regardless of other artists’ work.

(Vana Meyers) #16

I found that if I didn’t specify what I wanted to happen when an auction ended, it went to this option. So now I’m putting in a go to Paypal at the end of the auction.

(Elizabeth Elgin) #17

I appreciate your reply. I went to Joe’s site and he is definitely in a class with Claude Aspevig and others who have mastered the medium and therefore command these prices. Gorgeous work. I took a class with Cindy Procious, who sells her 11x14 oil paintings in galleries for around $5,000 (split with Gallery). She said,if you want to command those prices get better at painting. And that your portfolio is only as good as your worst painting. It has made me start to really rethink what I want to achieve and the quality I want to put out there. It is a difficult choice sometimes to paint quantity/sell cheaply vs. master the medium then sell quality. I also took a class with the ‘mother’ of Daily Painting Duane Keiser and he said, work, work, work and for god’s sake don’t think you have to sell everything you paint; in fact, paint hundreds of paintings and DON’T post them. Only post the very best. Of course "the very best’ is very subjective because to my eye SOME of his work is very odd, but others are brilliant and harder to do that you realize. No answers, just thoughts.

(Linda McCoy) #18

I just marked three paintings “Contact Artist” the only reason I did this was because these pieces were accepted in a local show. Meanwhile, if someone is interested they can contact me. If the pieces don’t sell in the show, I will put the paypal button back on. Paintings go out on exhibit, in and out of galleries and this is a good way to keep the artwork up in the DP gallery instead of using the “hide” option.

(Anne Wood) #19

I like your ideas Linda. In fact, I have one painting I am submitting for a spring show and I would like it to also be posted on Daily Paintworks. I shall consider this option.

Regards, Anne.

(Linda McCoy) #20

Thanks, Anne! Good luck with the Spring Show!