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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

I just got an offer to buy out all my canvas pieces.. all 23 of them. I have no idea what this buyer intends but I get the impression its for resale. I tend to sell on the very inexpensive side (30x30 canvas acrylic for $90 and 48x60 for $140)... so a single transaction for $2500 sounds good, but something about it feels wrong. My next art festival isn't until last weekend of August so I'd have time to do more pieces, but I can't decide if this is a blessing or a really terrible idea.

I'm only painting and attending 3-4 art festivals a year as a hobby and an excuse to spend a day or weekend outside, so the dollar amount is not important. I'm not attached to my artwork, but I'll get more joy out of seeing a lot of happy people walk off with my art then I will watching one guy in a van driving off. 

How far can I interrogate this potential buyer - and do I have any right to anyway? I just redid my website ( and was also considering upping my prices by double on canvas pieces, but he got pricing already...

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Look out for and be aware of scams. IE. how is it being paid for. Do you have anything done to show it is copyrighted? Agreement to state it cannot be duplicated, etc.

However if it is for resale and the buyer is paying your normal prices, why would you care. That is great. If a gallery wants to buy all my work at retail and then resell it YAAAAAAY.

If you don't want to sell many pieces and prefer to pay booth fees, jury fees, lodging, transport costs and setup at shows, to meet people... I believe you could find other ways to do such without incurring the expense and effort.

If the money does not matter, do the artwork, then visit the infirmed and needy. Spend time socializing with them and donate the pieces.

If you were considering doubling your prices, you should have done so prior to receiving an offer. If they are willing to pay what you have asked, without negotiation, then they deserve to get that price.

When I read this just now, I thought it has to be a scam.  Too many people, including myself, have gotten emails/phone calls/etc. about wanting to purchase from our website and have the purchaser's shipper ship or their rep pick it up.  They want to charge to a cc.  I simple email them back (if that is how they contacted me) and tell them ... "I take credit cards at my website and feel free to place your order."  I have yet to hear back from one.

Maybe this is really and up and up offer.  I would secure payment first for the agreed upon selling price AND shipping before doing anything with this situation.  Also, I am not a canvas artist but I agree it sounds like your prices are too low from what you posted here.

They are local and are paying cash. I get the impression that they are an interior decorating company, so maybe they are doing multiple properties. I guess it's my artistic ego that wants pieces to be spread to the masses. I have the fear, and I mean FEAR, of marking my prices up to the point where I don't sell anything. I'm only attending the smaller outdoor festivals that typically only charge $75-150 for a space. If I was doing the Main Street Arts Festival in Fort Worth, that charges $8,000 for a 10x10 space, my pricing would be different. 

As money is not your concern and you just want to spread your artwork around and chat with different people... DON'T SELL to this cash buyer.  Instead pay the $8,000, set up at Fort Worth. Sell many pieces at the low prices. Meet lots of people.

Also meet all your fellow artists and fend off their anger  :-)

I have met quite a few of artists at the few shows I have attended and no one seemed to have an issue with my prices. At the last art festival the couple to my left and the guy across from me sold a total of 5 pieces, mainly reproductions, and I sold 31 pieces, half of them on canvas (I have zero reproductions). I talked to a few artists at Main Street and they all indicated that they were losing money, but they viewed attendance as an investment into future sale.

I am a single father with 2 kids living with me, both in college, the oldest one is autistic and needs daily help, so I don't have $8,000 for a booth and may never even see $8,000 in the bank. I couldn't bring enough artwork to sell to ever make back $8,000. My car is 17 years old, I haven't taken a week off from work since 2004, and I can't even afford health insurance. I guess I envy artists that have that kind of money in the bank.

It's obviously to me now that there are three kinds of artists: 1) known artists that that make thousands+ per piece and can afford the best brushes, paints and art festivals fees, 2) artists that have a big enough savings to fund their art life with no monetary worries and can afford the best brushes, paints and art festivals fees, and 3) artists that do this on a small budget and have to make due with buying used/budget art supplies

There are many other classifications of us artists.

Some also struggle with the money for various reasons. Talent, effort and quality of artwork produced do not readily equate to monetary success. Ability to present, sell, luck and many other factors have massive influence. As well as other factors in their lives.

However, working just to distribute their art, at prices that are unrealistically low, is not only a formula for never attaining financial comfort but also a method of diminishing the market for themselves and the artists around them.

Much of the public is unhappy when companies come into their area and cut prices so low it undercuts the other, similar business, so much they cannot compete. The non-competitive companies go out of business.

Said, incoming companies, can only do such if they are willing to forego the profit that is realistic for that product / service. If  they are to succeed, they must have other income sources, or financial stability to do such until the competition is diminished. Then they must raise their prices. 

Perhaps some artists who could succeed financially, are hindered by other artists who are willing to give their work away at unreasonable prices?

This may not be your intent, however it may be the result. 

If i were you, i would ask for cash and take the sale. Then i would take time and make more art using the money. But then i would look at raising the price of your pieces. $90 for a 30x30 seems too low to me.

If it is local and cash, and you are fine with the price. I would do it. I did that once with a local gallery who sold my small sculptures. He was selling 3-4 a month, got tired of writing checks all the time to many of us, so he bought my entire inventory at the time... about 18 sculptures at the price I would have received after the commission. 

When they were all sold, we did it again. About 10 at a time! YAY!

If it’s for resale, ask for their tax ID number. At least in Texas, that is what I do. If they are legit, they will have one, and then you don’t need to charge them tax.

did a background search on the buyer and looks like they buy artwork, scan it, and place it up for sale on Etzy. 

Would have been the first thing I checked.

Now you have your answer. Do you want  your work mass produced?

Instead charge them $50,000 a piece for unlimited license. 

I had that happen my second or third year doing shows. Someone came into my booth at the end of the show and bought 25 pieces. He had purchased an apartment building and wanted to decorate the individual units.

Larry Berman


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