Pricing art...the hardest thing for me. I can price other artists art, no problem. But when it comes to mine, yikes! Am I too low? Too high? Ok, I finally decided on my price...but then...The "bargainer" comes.

OK, I'm easy to convince and yes, sometimes I go down a little in some paintings, if it is a harder to sell, or getting close to the end of season, end of day, etc etc. But how low can I go? 

Guy: OK, this painting is 180.00?

Me: Yes Sir, 180.00

Guy:What about 120.00?

Me: Mmmm...I can't go that low. That painting is very popular and it took me hours to make.

Guy: Ok, how much and I will give you cash right now?

Me: OK...160.00

Guy...NOPE! 130.00 or nothing

Me: I'm sorry Sir, I can't

Guy: OK, no deal. (walked away)

Me: Thinking...Ok, No deal...Whatever! Don't try to take advantage of my me and my work.

I didn't care but at the same time the lower they want to go I just want to say: Hey dude...Seriously?? Go and call a plumber, an electrician, they will charge you that just to go and take a look at your toilet (nothing against plumbers or electricians, just an example)...who do you think I am?? World Vision??? Unicef? Angelina Jolie?? No working for charity dude, but how low is too low? Or what kind of deals do you offer if they are interested in more than one of your pieces?

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  • I have found that some folks have no intention of buying; they just love to bargain and see how far you will go.  Playing that game is just an amusement for them. 

  • My best experience was a customer asked for a 50% discount and "no I can't do that" did not suit. I think he assumed I was deaf as he repeated this more than once getting the same response from me each time. THEN 3 customers at my booth stopped shopping for a moment and told him "this is art pay for it or go away". 

  • I only give discounts if:

    *I am at a really crappy show and haven't sold anything

    * The person has bought from me before.

  • When someone asks for a discount I tell them I put alot of hours desiging and creating each individual sculpted bos and then ask them much do they feel like my time is worth? What do they feel their time is worth? If they give me an answer that makes sense then they will realize the value of my pricing. If they do not think my time is valuable then they most likely wouldn't appreciate my work.

  • If someone asks me for a better price, "oh yes, instead of paying $180, I'll be more than happy to accept $250." and you have to smile. Now...different story...if they come in and ask for a discount, I say "what are you.... a litigator." yes, how can you tell. "I can spot a lawyer from a mile away"...with a smile. However, if he says no, he's a doctor, I say...(tongue in cheek) "oh, I'm surprised, it's the litigators that ask for discounts. Doctors never do"... keep smiling. It sort of puts them in their place, without knowing how they got there. They'll buy it because they're embarrassed to ask again.
  • I want to add the perspective from someone who also wholesales. Most of my work is priced at wholesale times 2.3-2.5 That is in the higher range of what my representatives charge. I know many of my stores have periodic sales. This way I have some room to negotiate (no more than 10%) and am not underselling my galleries. I usually have some pieces that are experimental or in the grey zone of not seconds but not good enough for a gallery. That can be a win-win for a customer who is enthusiastic about the work but may be too expensive for them. Those pieces I price above wholesale and below retail and explain why.
    Having said all that, I wil not reward a bad attitude. Some people are in it for sport or it is ingrained in the culture they were raised in. Graciousness and respect go a long way with me. One more thing, I never use tax as a bargaining point. It sets a bad precedent for our industry. If we want to be treated as proffessionals, we have to be it.
  • I always used this line when I was selling recreational vehicles. When someone asked me if this was my best price I always replied with "Oh no, I actually sold a similar unit yesterday for several thousand more and that was my best price so far" This usually took the wind out of their sales which is probably the most important aspect in any negotitation but it's done in a comical way that takes the edge off.

  • Here is the opposite situation--

    At Krasl this weekend there was a stained glass artist that had I-beams with cutouts and stained glass was inserted in the cutouts.  Most were priced nicely under $200.  I had thought about buying one for my entryway.  When I went to pick up some pieces they were holding for me, all of those pieces were gone.  (this was now early Sunday morning, before the show opened)  I asked where else he was going to be so I could get one.  Turns out they are new to the business, only doing 4 shows a year  and were  happy that they were doing so well.  They are a husband and wife team who are architects during the week.  I told him that he really should charge more for those pieces.  If he was selling out that fast, he could probably get more.  He said he had raised his prices for that show and then I open my BIG mouth and tell him that customers that go to more than one show in an area won't appreciate seeing his prices change, especially if they paid more than he was now charging.  I told him to come to AFI to learn about the ins and outs of shows.   I told him a story about another artist who raised prices and still sold lots of pieces and he said he would try it.   As I was wishing him luck in the future, I did tell him  that I expected to be grandfathered into the 2012 pricing. 

  •  Last year at a show I had a woman ask for a discount. It was a upscale show in a museum, I gave her a small one, cant remember how much. She was happy and then said " Oh and I have my coupon!" coupon? She handed me a coupon for $1.00 off. It was a coupon issued for $1.00 off the price of admission to the show, but did not specifically say that. I gave her another $1.00 off the price.  When she was out of earshot all the other artists around me started laughing their asses off. I keep that coupon with me and look at it whenever I need a laugh.

  • Barry, did he buy the piece? My favorite situation is when we were in Fort Lauderdale at a show- a man comes into the booth and offers me $900 on a $1800 piece. I said I am sorry that I can sell our work for such a discount- he proceeded to tell me that he didn't have any more $, I told him there was a ATM down the street. THEN, I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a Doctor- so I said "if you gave treatment to a patient,sent them a bill, and he sent you half the money, how would you feel? Because that is exactly what you are doing to me!" He turned blue, and walked out of my booth...I thought that was good enough for an academy award!

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