Monday, May 31, 2010

Art "On Sale"?

©Dianne Poinski "Mail Call"

Why does putting art "on sale" feel so tacky and why am I doing it anyway?

When I first started doing art festivals I only sold “originals”. These were silver gelatin black and white prints that I made in the darkroom then hand-colored with Marshall Photo Oil Paints. From the start I made the decision to limit the number of “originals” to 25. Each individual print would be hand-colored one at a time, making each piece a unique, one of a kind work of art.

These early originals were very reasonably priced. 11 x 14 images matted and mounted to 16 x 20 mat board sold for $95. Many of my early images went on to sell out as “originals”. It became apparent fairly quickly that to keep up, I would have to add reproductions to my inventory and raise the price on my originals.

©Dianne Poinski "Orchid II"

As most of you know, a few years ago I went over to the “other side” and started shooting and printing my images digitally. This transition resulted in a change in hand-coloring from oils to pastels. For awhile I had a mixture of traditional and digital prints showing at the shows and in my studio. Since I like to keep things simple and explaining the difference started to feel awkward, I soon put away all of my early originals.

These older pieces came out for a bit when I banded together with the other artists in my building to hold our “Archive Sale” in 2008 and I was able to find good homes for many of those images. This past month I decided to revisit this idea as “Spring Cleaning” and again offered many originals (and older prints) at greatly reduced prices.

So why I am writing about this?..... Because I have mixed feelings about it (but I am doing it anyway). The truth is, since I took a break from art festivals I am sitting on quite a bit of inventory that is not moving for many reasons, # 1 probably being the economy. But putting art “on sale” is a tricky thing. I don’t want to feel like one of those furniture stores with the permanent “Inventory Reduction Sale” sign hanging on their building, but at the same time I want to clear out space for new work and new inspiration.

©Dianne Poinski "Quiet Blooms I"

I have tossed many pieces in the trash that clearly were examples of “early work”, but this is not the best solution for the inventory I have left. In my cleaning I have also discovered the original hand-colored print I used to make the reproductions of many of those early sold out originals. Should I sell those? What do I call them?

I am wondering what other artists do. I am also curious about the origins of the stigma about putting art on “sale”. Any ideas?

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