Why are people selling their art so cheaply?

I had a quick look at the pieces currently in auction. I couldn’t believe that some wonderful pieces were selling for ridiculously low prices. Some for less that $20? Why is that? Are people buying art cheaply on here just to sell it on themselves for a bigger profit? If so, why are you letting that happen? I can’t reasonably let me work go for such low prices when I think of the time I spent on them…


This might help explain it: Link

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The article about how the internet changes the pricing of art that @dkuhn_art provided the link to explains it well, I think.

I do absolutely understand artists’ frustration with the downward pressure on the prices of art sold online. Unfortunately or fortunately (it’s a matter of perspective), the internet has exerted the same pressure in other industries, as well, such as with music and books, and with Amazon, now just about everything.

I think what it comes down to is “what you would like” versus “how it is.” I don’t mean to be harsh or tough love, at all. Instead, I intend to be practical. Often, the alternative to selling one’s art for lower prices on the internet is to not sell one’s art at all. This, of course, is a decision each individual artist must make for themselves.

Brick and mortar galleries can sell art for much higher prices, however they often take as much as a 50%, or more, commission. More importantly, galleries usually only promote and sell the art of the top tier of their artists. So, while selling art online means selling art for less, what is often forgotten is that it means “selling art.” The internet has made available to most artists a market that was previously inaccessible.

In general, selling art effectively online is a volume over price game. This means painting small and painting often, allowing you to sell 10 to 20, or so, small works for less a month, than one large work for more.

As for buyers buying work cheaply on DPW only to sell it for a greater price, I don’t see, at all, how we could stop that. If, in fact, there are galleries that are buying work cheaply on DPW only to resell them at a higher price, then I am thinking this is not so bad. The general model with galleries is to sell on consignment, where the artist bears all the risk and only gets paid if a work sells. If a gallery is buying work through DPW to resell, at least the gallery is bearing the risk and the artist gets paid.


The developer and Owner of Daily Paintworks


Thanks for that? Very informative and I did think that it may be the case. However, in your article it says that it is better to sell 10 painings for $100 than 1 painting for $1000. I totally agree with that but these paintings are going for a lot less than $100. If I sold mine for $100 I’d be quite happy.

I followed an auction and it was heartening to see that the final bid was double what I’d seen the early bids were. However the painting A Pause was a beautiful piece of art and to sell for $32 was such an insult I thought.

It was also good to read the thoughts about contact the seller to buy which has confirmed what I already thought as it would put me off and I think I would be suspicious of getting a fair quote.

I love the idea of auctions I think they are so exciting and I really wish the UK had a similar site over here but I do think there is a case for a minimum starting bid just to protect your wonderful artists :grinning:


Painting more and often means more exposure for the artist and thus potentially more sales. I’ve sold more at DPW than anywhere else, and the low commission fees make it practical to sell smaller work. Such items can command high prices but if the artist is an “unknown” then it’s not so easy. These days I try not to spend too long on a small piece, 2 to 2 1/2 hours at the most. Some would say that’s too long as well. Also, what are people willing to pay for a 6x6 inch, for example?
I agree that Britain doesn’t have a great choice of auction sites (Ebay charges too much, Ebid is good and needs more visitors), but I’m happy to post overseas anyway so DPW suits me. As it is, auction sites imply that bargains may be found, we are in an age when people want everything cheap.


Hi Christine,

The idea of Daily Paintworks is of course to paint Daily and that is possibly where I am going wrong. My pieces take days to do so I can’t possibly let them go for small amounts. Having said that I did sell an original for $95 when I first joined up before Christmas but nothing since. I had a quick look at Ebid which I had not heard of, most of the art is prints. I tried selling on Ebay but nothing, I couldn’t even sell any of my cricket prints on there. It may be that I need to have a rethink and challenge myself to do a small 6 x 6" piece in a few hours and see put it on here for a low bid to see what happens. Any tips greatly appreciated Christine


I haven’t been able to figure that one out Paulette.
Myself, I am 74 and have out lived most of my online collectors. So on occasion I will list an auction piece lower than normal to acquire new lookers to my main DPW gallery.


Jim, thanks for replying - does it work?

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I believe that the more artists sell their art more cheaply it sends a message that that is what paintings are worth. It brings the industry toward a lower spectrum. People can do what they want but to value your art so low just to sell doesn’t make sense to me. Are you really starving? Is that $20 sale really making ends meet? To each his own but I think overall it’s not a good thing. The more the competition the lower the prices. If I’m at a venue that seems to be overall lower prices I won’t stay there too long. Your art is worth more - don’t sell out. That’s my two cents.


I personally don’t value a piece less if it takes a shorter time to finish it. Time is a factor somewhat but your skill and talent come out in every piece - maybe not equally every time but more or less. Pricing has always been a difficult thing for artists but this crazy underselling just to sell doesn’t make sense to me. What % of artists out there really need that $15 to survive. Most artists I know or are familiar with that make a survival living off their art (no spouse helping out or family member, etc.) wouldn’t be selling their work for these lower prices. You’re running a business. Or even if it’s a hobby charge by your worth - look at your peers and compare and find a reasonable price range that fits what they are charging - look at multiple sources not just dailypaintworks. But in the end, to each his own.


David I think your explanation is right on. I joined DPWS because I love painting a small painting pretty much everyday. If I can sell a number of small studies at a low price, I get the practice, and some money for it, that is great. Larger works I usually save for local galleries because basically a large framed expensive painting the buyer wants to see it before purchasing. Just the way it is, but think artists should not be afraid to have a position in both places.

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Yes, it is.

Look, I listen to a lot of art podcasts while I paint, and I hear a surprising amount of the artists interviewed casually mention that they have a husband who provides a second income, or they worked 30 years in a high-paying job outside of art and are now casually and comfortably embarking on a second life in painting, or two seconds out of art school a favorite professor asked them to come back and teach, thus securing a regular income. That’s all well and good, and I’m happy for them, truly, but for some of us the only way we can buy more paint and canvas is to sell what we can, when we can, for whatever the market brings.

And that’s fine. None of us are owed anything, and many of us may even enjoy the challenge. Also, with the auction format, you sometimes get get lucky and get prices you never dreamed of asking for a 6x6. That was especially true over the holidays.

Anyway, it’s just supply and demand, right? And why do we chastise artists for living by that reality, but not any other business? No one runs into Domino’s to tell management that the sale they’re running that week is injuring the integrity of the fast food industry. No one thinks that the bookstore with the discount bin doesn’t take literature and its worth seriously. So why does this conversation keep coming up here every month?

And maybe someone else can confirm this, but I’m fairly certain some of the artists here who are very successful began with keeping prices low. I believe Karin Jurick used to start her paintings at $25.00 over on eBay, and didn’t Carol Marine do something similar? So it works. When you’re new and unproven you start low, and as the years go by and you get better and build a brand like they did, consistently offering up work that’s of real quality, things get better. There’s no subsitute for hard work and time.


it’s obviously a bone of contention and I’m sorry that I brought it up again but I couldn’t see this question in the topics when I had a quick scan. I’ve learnt that I need to paint small and daily really which has got me thinking about how I could do that, perhaps as an aside on a separate easel just to try it. I would never stop doing my main stuff because it’s my niche.

I also feel you shouldn’t undersell yourself. I’m doing a cricket drawing for nothing because it’s for a special situation and I’ve chosen to donate my time and talent for that because I don’t want to profit from it. It’s a gamble as I’ve given up work to do full time art so I really need the money however, it could bring a lot of marketing potential so I think it’s worth it.

Maybe I’m wrong but we’ll see


Hi Paulette, I agree with you. No matter the quality of a work, the inspiration, time taken to create, originality etc, one is competing against price. Unless a buyer is after a specific artist to collect, then a low price is the competition. $1and up. The only way such a tactic will work, is to sell volume and hope that some pieces will perform well in auction to compensate ones that do not sell, or sell for a low price. It may mean that the art piece is purely intrinsic and bought purely for its low price, like an item in a dollar store, rather than an original integral art piece.

Hi Joseph

I was discussing similar on Facebook and someone said they believe you should set your price that you feel reflects your time, costs etc and that price should be the same across all platforms. If your demand means you can price higher then go for it but never lower. That makes sense to me.

I may try a few smaller quicker pieces as a personal challenge but not in order to batch sell.

Hi Paulette, that is good advice. So long as one is comfortable with a minimum price, than any better price is a bonus.

Remember, though, no one is selling with a Buy Now button for a price of one dollar. The one dollar people are using auction format. If demand really exists for the painting, in more than one buyer, the price gets driven up accordingly (and sometimes more than you would expect).

When we use the one dollar auction tactic we’re not slashing prices to extreme levels hoping to move product at volume; rather, we’re presenting the painting to the market and letting the market set the price. If the market keeps the price low, then it’s simply not a painting that many buyers currently perusing the site are interested in.

At that point, if you’re a painter who doesn’t mind painting for the market, you change things. If you’re one who only wants to paint for yourself, then you live with it and move on.


Of course nobody is selling at $1 buy now. That does not mean that the $1 auction option is not competition at the lowest price, it is. It may make it harder for sellers to sell via PayPal or email for a fixed price, as buyers may expect low prices, which they can get in the auction, thus perhaps keeping prices low. Anyway I guess it’s up to people to decide what strategy to use to try and sell.

But those one dollar auctions don’t stay at one dollar if there’s demand for the piece, right? So, to take an example from real life, I started, last fall, plenty of paintings for a dollar that eventually got bid up and up. During the holidays, when more buyers and more demand entered the market, the one dollar starts were regularly hitting 70, 80, 100 bucks. Sometimes even more. The one dollar start bids obviously didn’t depress the market. With auctions, it won’t happen, because there’s no ceiling; the market can take the price as high as it wants. If we were talking about one dollar Buy Nows, you’d have a point, but auctions are a different beast.

Now, with the holidays well over, many buyers have exited for the time being, and they take with them the demand that was fueling the high prices. No big deal, that’s natural.

The thing is, when we’ve hit that point at which we’re continually producing paintings people want, and want a lot, like a Carol Marine does, we’ll be at a point where they sell and sell for great prices always, immune to these other factors. Until then, we have to deal with the reality that as of now, the demand simply isn’t there. And it’s not the fault of Daily Paintworks, it’s not the fault of featured artists, it’s not the fault of one dollar start bids. If anyone, myself included, posts a painting that no one buys, it’s only because right now, no one wants it. We have got to be grown up enough to handle that obvious fact.


Hi David, I don’t think anybody is disputing that there is less demand at the minute or are not realistic and mature enough to realise that a piece will sell, if there is demand for it, or if the artist is sought after. The one dollar auction will probably get a bidder, plus get the seller noticed. The strategy is selling a brand, with lost leaders, where some will sell for a dollar, others will do better.The ultimate aim is to promote the brand In the long term.

Perhaps everyone should try it and see how it works for them?



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