Why are people selling their art so cheaply?

When I look at the higher-priced works on this site, most of the artists seem to be further along in their careers- they are involved with galleries, hold workshops, etc and can justify those prices. I am not there yet, thus I don’t feel right charging those prices. I’m only 21, still studying for my degree, just starting out. My paintings are small, and usually only take three hours maximum. I wouldn’t post something here unless I felt proud of it, but I don’t want to overstep into arrogance and ask too much.

From a business point of view, selling one 6x6" painting at $20 per month covers the cost of DPW membership. I’ve done that every month so far. The cost of materials is kept low by buying canvas boards in bulk, and paint when it’s on sale- I factor that into the cost of the painting. So I’m not making a loss. After selling more than expected for the first few months of this year, I’m able to afford a table at the local arts and crafts fair in summer, and I might try entering DPW’s monthly competition. And restocking materials is easy enough to afford. That’s pretty good going for a beginner.

No, I am not able to support myself on art- I hope one day I’ll get there. But I have a long way to go… Basically, what @dkuhn_art said about hard work and time. I avoid $1 auctions because that wouldn’t cover the cost of the canvas board and paint, though.

I also think we may not be giving buyers enough credit- most people realise that they will have to pay more for the work of a well established artist, for a larger work, etc. Surely they are intelligent enough to understand the varying prices, and if they really love a work they’re not going to refuse to buy it because something else the same size is selling for $10 less…?

To my fellow UK artists, I don’t know any other auction based sites, but have you come across Art2Arts? Based in Portsmouth, juried entry, and higher comission costs, but if you have larger works you want to sell, it might be a good complement to DPW. I’m planning to apply either late this year, or early next.


I think many artists try to maximise their outpout and to reduce their costs/efforts in order to be price competitive. This inevitably has an impact on the quality of the work. Also I think many of those low prices exist simply because so many others put a low price tag on their work…
I am new on DPW and I priced my work low for some time just to see what happens. Now I am glad nothing happened. I still can sell my work at reasonable price.

I think the competition is not in price, but in quality of the work and its visability to an interested audience.


Hey Jim, I had a look at Arts2Art and applied to join. Thanks for that tip.

Martin, I had a look at your work, I really like it and yes I agree with you. I also felt the pressure that maybe I should price my work low just to sell and I am glad I did not. Firstly my work is not small i.e its normally 16 x 12 not 6 x 6 and takes me days to complete not a couple of hours. Secondly, I don’t really want to churn out work like a factory production line - I mean how many still life rosy apples can the market take???


That questions the whole premise of DPW and the daily painting movement, which is that the more you paint, the better you’ll get. And if a person paints that much, they have to choose between letting the work stack up in their home like some episode of Hoarders, or offering it up on the market to make some cash, because cash is what keeps the painting supplies stocked.

Also, can we put an end to the “competitive pricing” train of thought, since we’ve already been over the fact that the one dollar paintings mentioned are auctions which can go through the roof and well past anything resembling discount pricing…

You just solved another riddle, are some of my followers other artists who are merely observing, thanks for that information.

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Yes, absolutely. That’s a great way of explaining it.

Quite possibly, Peter.
I have followed a couple of auctions in my genre to see how they get on.

Great discussion. Enjoy reading different perspectives.

My experience has been $1 auctions went for a $1 or not at all, which was even more ego deflating. $1 too low for my emotional well-being :sweat:

Currently, learning new medium and beginning auctions at $25. I feel fine if there is only one bidder and work sells for opening bid and encouraged if competing bids raise the price. The best was selling one for the Buy It Now price of $75.


I’m with you June. I used to do the Ebay auctions would sell maybe one out of every five paintings posted, but they would sell for $20-30 with a few dollars for shipping. I got a little tired of that so I went to a fixed price sale with free shipping. These also have the option for the buyer to make an offer. I have sold three paintings in the last couple of months through the Offer and got more than twice as much for them, even with free shipping, than I would have in the regular auctions.


As I look at the active bidding page I see only a handful of artists enjoy multiple bids driving up the price. Most sell for the opening bid. I’ve tried the $1 bid on eBay where it sold for $1 and really made me sad. So I stick with a price that at least covers materials. I’m sure if you have a following bidding works better. Pricing will always be a mystery. And the topic will come up again as new people join the site.

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“… only a handful of artists enjoy multiple bids driving up the price.”

Art is a lot like show business.


I found eBay to be full of bargain shoppers. I needed to lower my starting bid to $10 or $12 to get a bid, then it rarely (1 out of 15 maybe), got a second bid. I stopped doing eBay with art completely when a buyer emailed me and asked me how low I would go on my $10 auction! She wanted the price to go down, not up!

On DPW I have found my nitch to be in the under $35 range for a painting, and then, only some will sell. If I go above $35 though, there are no bids. I haven’t tried the $1 auction but I don’t intend to - it’s just too low. I also prefer to stick with a price that will at least cover the materials.

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Amen to that (you can’t see it right now, but I’m nodding in agreement – gonna have to trust me on that)

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I was so happy to read your comment. Art, for me, isn’t about churning out work but about the quality of work you do put out. That may take some time. I think that people who sell their quality work cheaply do us all a disservice. It’s important to value your artwork or nobody else is going to which I think is what is happening on DPW. Personally, when I had my gallery going here I did have people buy my work to resell it and were up front about it. At that time I was in the $50 range for 8 x 10 oils because I was just getting myself out there. When I started to raise my prices because I was selling at shows and galleries for more money, sales stopped altogether except on older pieces. Taryn Day has a blogspot that has a very interesting dialogue on this exact subject. Worth the read.

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Hi Jill

I had a look at Taryn Day, what lovely artwork. I’m now following her on facebook so if she has anymore advice then hopefully I can pick it up. I’ve got a few pieces for sale on here now and I’ve not put them through the auction. I think unless its going to be cheap then there is no point. I love the concept of the auction but not the low prices. I’ve sold one piece on here, it is getting to the point where I have to consider cancelling my monthly subscription, but we’ll see how it goes.

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It’s tough out there Paulette, and has been for some time. I note a lot of quality work goes unsold, both auction and buy now.

This far down in the thread and people seem to still be confusing low “Buy Now” options with auctions, which may start low, but, in fact, go up to nice price points if the painting appeals to the market.

If a painting doesn’t sell, then at that time there was just no demand for it. People just didn’t want it. When they want it, they fight for it by bidding.


What I’ve been noticing here in the auctions is that for most of the winter there were about 100 active auctions per day. For the last 2-3 weeks it dropped down to 50 active auctions per day. Tonight there are only 33 active auctions with some very low prices. Why aren’t as many people buying via auction? Is there another competing website that is attracting the regular bidders all of a sudden?

I am selling reproduction prints from $20 upwards, so what is the point to let 10 paintings go at $1 hoping that one will go at $50 ?

I have cancelled my subscription. I can’t imagine that the collectors I want will buy here or appreciate the “1 $ environment”. I am sure now that the way to go is selling originals directly from my own website.

DPW is a great website,well organised and functioning on a technical level. Thanks and best of luck to everybody.

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It’s a starting bid. They start at a dollar and move up. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

There wouldn’t be much point to that, because that would be 11 paintings going for a total of $60.00, roughly $5.45 per painting. But who here has experienced that? I mean, every now and then there’s a painting that garners zero interest, but generally that’s not the case.

And of course the more you put out there, the more chances you have of one going big. Yeah, it is kind of a numbers game that way; a “Moneyball” approach to selling, with the focus being on base hits, not home runs. If the goal is exposure to new collectors and making enough money to pay for more paint, then it’s a game plan that’s very useful.

I don’t understand this idea that every painting we do is a masterpiece that we simply cannot part with for anything less than a large amount of money. But then again, I’m not attached to the finished paintings. It’s the process that I love. The paintings are just documentation that the process occurred that day, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t have room in my house for all that documentation.

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