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$1 auctions not panning out

Well in order to eat and pay a few bills I put my auctions up for auction at a starting price of $1. I did this last time and had some sad success with it but this time I’m getting no success. Some of them are going to sell for $1. Some for a little more.
I have to do that, otherwise I won’t sell anything at all. I don’t have years to wait to sell a painting. I pretty much have to sell my paintings soon.
I never knew my art career would be reduced so low as to come to this. I think my art career is over actually.
I guess I don’t really have a question, but some input as to similar stories or problem or suggestions would be nice.

I feel quite sad Bob that you consider your art career over. Your paintings are beautiful. If the truth is known I imagine many of us are struggling to sell our work. Please hang in there…

I appreciate your comment, Anne, but there have been too many times that I contemplated quitting and tried and tried and tried again just to see nothing but failure. Some of my paintings are going to sell for $1 tonight because they’re not good enough to get $2 I guess. I’m working on things like Patreon and Fiverr to make a living at. I really wanted it to be painting for all my life but it’s obvious now, I will never live that dream.

In fact, I ended 2 of my paintings auctions a little while ago because they didn’t even get a $1 bid.

Bob…is your bread on the table dependant on your sales? If so…I realise you need to have another income. What I am trying to say…is that your art is part of your soul. I am fortunate to be ancient enough and have a pension to feed me. My art is part of me like breathing whether or not (and mostly not) my paintings sell.

Someone once said…“if you knew you would never sell anything, would you still paint?” I know I would.

Your art is too good to give up. In my humble opinion. Please forgive me if I am intruding…I just feel for you in these troubles. Kind regards, Anne.

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@woodworks [quote=“woodworks, post:5, topic:2108”]
Someone once said…“if you knew you would never sell anything, would you still paint?” I know I would.

Interesting. I would not. I’d give it up tomorrow if I found success elsewhere.

@rkstudio Bob: personally, I’d love to see you continue if you can, because I’ve noticed a positive difference in your painting over the past couple of months. It was good before, of course, but it seems to be going to someplace even more interesting lately. I’m anxious to see where you take it…

I have a full-time job that supports my bills except for my art. My art sales support my art by paying for supplies, fees, etc. It didn’t at first - in fact, I painted for 5 years before selling anything. I wanted to paint. I like how David put it “my art was going someplace different and more interesting” with time. I still get the thrill from creating, from pushing that paint around, from seeing it transform from “ugly” stage to “good” stage (not always, but some do!). In fact, I’m often amazed at the transformation. I do get into slumps (which you sound like you are in) when I feel there is nothing to paint, and nothing is working, and nothing is selling … see that constant word “nothing”? It’s hard to drag out of it, but you have to. The more “nothings” we look for, the more “nothings” we’ll find.

I haven’t done the $1 auction, probably never will. Because I know I would wind up feeling very similar to how you do, Bob, if it didn’t sell at all, or sold for only $1. It would definitely bother me, and I know I’d start seeing the “nothings” again.

That being said, my $$ sales this year have exceeded last years quite a bit. But the bulk of my sales were not online or via auctions, but commissions & through physical shows. I found that the online art sales seemed to dry up for me last year, so I looked for new avenues to get my art out there. That may be a help for you as well.

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Nan, I am the same as you…never tried the $1 auction route. I did put several on to auction starting at $20 but there wasn’t any interest. I reverted back to Buy it Now.

I would rather give my paintings away than let them sell so cheaply. In fact I destroy them. This means I avoid feelings of resentment.

Bob…the downside of $1 auctions is sadness. Is there any other way you could show your paintings? Joining an art society? Local exhibitions?

Everyone on here is is trying to sell work, no matter if it’s for a $1 auction or more via PayPal. Buyers will buy or not, they are not obliged to buy. So when a piece is put up for $1, then the seller has to factor in that is what it may sell for, just that, or not at all. The choice is down to the seller. Sales are disappointing for most, but that’s the market, ups and downs like it always has been. My advice is keep going, be optimistic, pragmatic but mostly realistic.


Quite right Joseph. Keep on keeping on. :art::blush:

That’s also the downside to Buy Nows that no one clicks on. It’s six of one, half dozen of the other.

While I hope Bob continues, for reasons I already mentioned, I can also understand how people may leave it behind and pursue success elsewhere. Sometimes, you just have to for the sake of your sanity. There are only so many times you can run up against a wall before you say to yourself, “I really don’t like this feeling.”

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Thank you all very much for your comments. After trying so many different marketing ideas and strategies, I feel like I’m still at the starting line after all these years.
I understand all of your advise about selling in shows, etc. but lack of money is always the problem. I feel like I’m stuck in this quagmire that I can’t get out of. Like they say, it takes money to make money.
I’m not saying sales are always bad, but when sales stop, they really stop, but the bills don’t.
I’ve always heard things like “follow your dreams” and “Never give up” and things like that but after all these years of trying, I think I’m getting tired of the dream.
BTW, the auctions turned out better near the end. For almost the whole 4 days they were on auction, most of them got either nothing or $1, but the 6 paintings I had on auction finished with an average of $34. Not as much as I would like to make for a painting but better than what I thought they would end up with.
Well maybe one of these days I’ll find a way to get into a show. I would rather sell in a live venue anyway. But for the time being, I have to sell online since it’s the only affordable way to do business.
Also, I think in most cases, success at selling art isn’t so much about how good your art is but about your story as an artist. So many times, I have seen art that was very deserving to be sold not being sold and not because it’s over-priced. Then many other times, I see art that I wouldn’t hang in my bathroom and it sells like it’s a masterpiece.
Well in the mean time, I’m going to take the advise to “keep on keeping on”, but as a backup, I’m working on my Patreon account to try to make a living teaching art to people who donate to the cause. It’s another avenue to explore.
Thanks a lot to all of you for your advise. If you have more, I would be more than happy to hear it.


I guess it is true…if a boulder is falling over and over from the sky hitting us on the head, and we say…I don’t like it…the answer would be…get out from under it.

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You do sound a bit happier now Bob…you aren’t alone…follow your heart as well as your head. Keep in touch.

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Yeah… Having a gimmick seems to help a lot, too. Story and gimmick. And it’s too bad, because gimmicky art leaves behind real creativity, and not everyone has a dramatic story to tell (or are comfortable telling it).

On the upside, a person can always just make up their “story”. Dali did a lot of that. And search long enough for a gimmick and you’re bound to find something that works.

I believe this may well be the key – not to making real art – but to putting some money in the bank. And I’m not joking in the least.

How sad that you’ve grown so disenchanted with the whole process, Bob, because as others have commented, your paintings are truly accomplished. What I find somewhat confusing, however, is that you do appear to have made sales. In fact, you appear to sell more often than many DPW members. Now, I can’t tell, so perhaps those sales have been for very low prices, which I understand would be more depressing than uplifting. It sounds as if you’re inclined towards setting your art aside for a bit and finding another source of income, at least for a time. It’s possible that taking away the urgency to earn money would eventually renew your desire to paint, even just on a part-time basis.

Personally, I’ve tried auctions once or twice, but had better success simply setting a reasonable price and using the Buy Now option. (By reasonable, I mean asking what I would expect to get for a given piece in a gallery after the 40-50% gallery commission is subtracted.)

Anyway, Bob, I wish you the best.

Thank you very much Anne.

I have worked in brick and mortar galleries for many years. Your frustration with selling is not unique. Many have experienced the same. Selling art is hard even in good times. These are not good times for selling art. Galleries don’t want low ticket work because they could never sell enough to pay the rent. The wall space is worth more than they could ever get.
Several times over the years I have seen a very similar pattern with photographers and painters both trying to break into the market. They believed they prices to begin with should be low and they still don’t sell. They get fed up, angry maybe and decide to double the prices. They start to sell. Why? I believe if you charge too little and the potential buyers believe it’s not worth buying. It’s not worth anything. My suggestion is to raise your prices forget this low price thought. You would have to sell thousands of them at such low prices to make any sort of living. Stop thinking it’s about selling to the average guy. The average guy can barely afford posters which by the way sell for 20 times what you are asking for your work. It’s just not going to work selling low. I’m saying this without even looking at your work. You have to believe in yourself. Fake it till you make it if you have to. Forget the, “I’ll start low” and raise prices later. Later never comes and most give up. I’m not suggesting you have to have a gigantic narcissistic arrogant ego just realize the real issue is not price as much as you think.


I also read your post with sadness, but I also think that many of us have been there too. I think that creating an auction with a starting point of $1 is just a setup for disapointment. With so much competition for art, you have to find a few people willing to bid. It sounds like you did, and ended up with higher bids, so kudos to you. I think that these big websites like DPW, and etsy are a bit like being a guppy in a great big ocean. You have to stand out a bit to be seen. That being said, I have a facebook page, instagram, and twitter account that I post daily to. I think being an artist has highs and lows often, unless you are lucky enough to be very successful. And I think after hearing all the lovely comments here about your work, maybe you should also try other outlets besides DPW. Good luck in whatever you decide.

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I get it Bob, I’ve been pluging away for over 10 years and have given up a number of times. I always come back to it cause I love it, and would paint 20 hrs a day if I could regardless of sales. Some artists reach success early on others spend 2 decades or a lifetime to reach it. All we can do is be persistant, stay productive and hold on to the vision of what we as individual artists consider success.