Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/06/2006: "Help needed with art sale!"

I’m trying to decide what to do with my extra art inventory. Moving things down to WA is going to be expensive so I’m trying to unload as much as possible before I leave. I have this idea to hold an art/studio sale but I’ve never done anything like that before. I’m thinking I could have unsold work on display at my home, as well as art materials and supplies and just kind of throw a big “Thank You” party to everyone on my mailing list.

I would provide food and drinks too…I’m just not sure if I should make it “open to the public” as in, announce it in the local paper and put up fliers around town.

Also, I plan to price art materials at garage sale prices just to get rid of everything except the bare essentials. I’m not sure how to price the paintings though. I’d like to discount them, but not sure how much is too much or not enough…25% off, 35%? More? I mean, that is within the range of what galleries charge for commissions anyway…and should I make the same offer available to people online? Are there any down-sides to this plan in general?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Replies: 21 Comments

on Thursday, September 7th, Howard said

Sounds like a good idea. I'd say use a range of prices, higher discounts on the stuff you really want to sell before you move. Sometimes you really need to get rid of artwork. Your big move is a perfect excuse to have a sale.

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

Thanks Howard, I wonder though, if it should be open to the public. Having something like that at a gallery is one thing, but at your home...having strangers in off the street...I mean, I guess in Juneau that's probably ok.

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

oh, also, do you think I should write the original price and then the discounted price, or just the discounted price?

on Thursday, September 7th, DAD said


on Thursday, September 7th, DAD said


on Thursday, September 7th, Howard said

Maybe just keep it to your mailing list. At least you know they are interested in your work.
I'm guessing show both prices. People always want to know how much they're saving.

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

The mailing list is probably a good compromise, but I do want to get out there to art students etc. about the supplies sale. Or do you think that should be on a different day?

Or maybe I should just put up signs outside the arts building about the materials being for sale?

on Thursday, September 7th, willow said

Is there a space in town or at the college where you could hold your sale? That way you wouldn't have people tracking thru your house, and then it would be easier to open it to the public. I think the bigger the "audience," the more likely you are to sell more.

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

Hi Willow,
That's a good idea, I just can't think of anything off the top of my it would be a hassle to lug all of my stuff from home to somewhere else and then back again...but maybe I should just open it up for everyone, like an open house, and just keep certain rooms off limit/locked?

I agree that the bigger the crowd the better.

on Thursday, September 7th, holly said

The people buying are going to know that you've marked the price down. They know they're getting a "deal." I would just mark the price you want for the piece. No one's going to quibble. If they need to know the original price for insurance purposes they can ask, right?

I'm on your mailing list. If I start pedalling now, I could probably make it...

on Thursday, September 7th, holly said

Also-- years ago I had a huge rummage sale that carried into the house-- I simply blocked off the boundaries with a rope and a sign and shut all the doors in the "off limits" area. Everyone was very courteous and respectful that it was my home.

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

You are indeed on my mailing list! Do you need directions???

I like the idea of "roping" off the non-public areas. It's pretty easy in my house because everything downstairs is private and everything upstairs is one giant room. So, maybe I could put a sign outside the house too that says "Party Upstairs" as well?

on Thursday, September 7th, holly said

I think I just head west until I reach the ocean and then north until I get to your place, right? A left and then a right at the Pacific. Got it!

Well, "Party Upstairs" may really liven up your little sale!

on Thursday, September 7th, Elise said

Yah exactly, then when you get to Juneau just ask for directions to Louie's bar. Everyone knows where it is and my house is right behind it!
And I did envision the sale as a "thank you" party for people who have supported me as an artist over the there will be great food and booze!

Maybe I shouldn't advertise the booze thing? I wonder if there are legal considerations?

on Friday, September 8th, holly said

Every state differs in liquor laws, but in Indiana (which is stoopid strict) there's no prob serving liquor at a private gathering as long as the server and consumers are over the legal drinking age and you're not charging money. I'd imagine Alaska is pretty much the same.

on Friday, September 8th, dad said

as far as booze is concern you do assume some liability as to the condition your customfers leave if they should get into an accident or etc. skip the booze maybe a LITTLE wine and cheese. but be watchful''''

on Friday, September 8th, Elise said

Yah, I guess I should keep it more like an opening (little dixie cups for wine) if I make it open to public...

But if I make it just for those on my mailing list, which are mostly people I know, I could make it more like a party.

either way, I mean...even at a private gathering, if you host a party you need to be careful that no one that leaves your place is drinking and driving.

on Friday, September 8th, RR said

Wow, you must have strict laws on drink over there.Here you can pretty much do what you like if it's a private function-apart from the legal age thing and no drinking & driving.And I'd definitely put both prices on.You sell more as people see the real value as an investment.Everyone likes a bargain.

on Friday, September 8th, Elise said

Hi RR! What's the legal drinking age in Scotland?

I know our Borough has laws that apply to art openings, that you can't serve alcohol at any function that is open to people who walk in off the street...without a liquor license.

Some art openings do it anyway, but others are more Rob always has a "collectors' night" the night before the opening, with a set invitation just to collectors and then they can serve wine.

I'm not sure if those Borough policies apply to personal residences though. I guess when in doubt it's better to be safe than sorry.

on Friday, September 8th, RR said

The legal age is 18 but there are some places which stick an over 21 policy on. If it's an official function selling alcohol you would need a licence here but not for private parties. That's why all the pubs here (in the good old days) used to have "lock-in's" i.e after closing time they'd shut the doors and the few select remaining "guests" would be able to say to any police that it was a private party. Not sure if that happens much these days but when I was younger, back home in a little village, I heard tales....... ;)

on Sunday, September 10th, berry bowman connell said

Actually, a gal at the paint-out yesterday
convinced me to never sell cheap again.
Last year she won first place (oil) though she didn't
like it much, priced it at $950 and sold it before leaving.

(DANG! That's what I should'a done with mine yesterday!)

Nope. Discount art sales is over from this boy.
What y'all do is up t'you, but,
at what value do you value yourself, your work?

A good friend of mine (Ron Stock, he's got a dot com) once sold me a roll of six foot wide, heavy, pre primed canvas, probably some thirty yards long.
Fer $50.
He threw in a display easel, too.
Moved down t'New Mexico where he's been building a house
(dang! some artists really ARE making it, eh?)
and he wasn't down there more'n a few months when someone approached him about doing a huge, wall sized mural on canvas!
That one comes with its own "moral", eh?

I did offer t'send it down to him, but, he declined. Seems he has the where withal to get what he needs whenever he needs it.

Now, on the other hand....
What you'de get paid fer whatever y'sell won't amount t'what its value is
to you.
One can sell a Stradivarius cheap, or at a discount, mox nix, but...
if the one who buys it can't play violin, then what a shame.

Not that I'm a successful artist, which brings me t'wonder if I'm any help at all, what with suggesting y'use yer boat fer storage.....OK, I AM a bonehead, sometimes.
Get one of those U-STORE-IT places in Oregon, make occasional visits down there on long weekends and such and poke it in.
After all, you are gonna be an Oregano, soon....might as well use what free time you have access to fer
exploring yer new found land.
If it's money yer after, again, it won't account fer much.
If yer headstrong about it, though, another suggestion altogether.
Since y'won't get top dollar fer materials, then offer t'sell t'needy students.
I can hardly begin t'tell ya that the roll of canvas Ron sold me was worth way more than $50, but, the last twenty canvases I stretched were fer the price of stetcher bars only, and fer a poor dude like m'self, it has been a Godsend!
I even used the display easel yesterday at the paint-out. (gonna post the picture as soon as I'm done here.) ('course, unless y'all rise like me, near five or six in the morning, I never have t'worry 'bout getting the post in before y'see it.)

(then again, last night, I dreamed i was a car muffler.

woke up exhausted)