Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Home » Archives » October 2006 » Yah, I don't think so, or : Why artists can't make min. wage

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10/19/2006: "Yah, I don't think so, or : Why artists can't make min. wage"

He: I'd love to buy one of your paintings!

Me: I'd love to sell you one of my paintings!

He: I want the one of the blonde with the psychadelic nipples.

Me: It's still available (yes, I know which one he's referring to).

He: Would you sell it to me for $xxx.xx (half my asking price, which he knows because he was at the opening)

Me: Uh, I have to go help someone now (I was at work so this was true).

He: Think about it!

A 50% discount? I give collectors (who have purchased multiple paintings) a 10% discount, but come on! I mean, I respect haggling as much as the next guy but these paintings take a loooooong loooooong time to create. After expenses when I sell a piece for full price I'm probably making about $5 an hour!

It's depressing...It made me think about my 10 year plan, and how it seems farther away right now than ever. I need to get back on track somehow and re-evaluate where I've gone wrong.

Replies: 10 Comments

on Friday, October 20th, Daniel said

I only give discounts to my long-time collectors on multiple purchases (like 3 or more) and never THAT much discount.

Getting hyped for a sale, then being asked to bend over and take one for the sake of a purchase. This is the kinda crap that slowly kills our spirit. Good choice waiting, believe it or not there is always another buyer, often where you least expect one.

on Friday, October 20th, Elise said

Hi Daniel, I'm sure he meant well...or at least I'm sure he didn't mean to kill my spirit...but it was still pretty lame.

I have no problem whatsoever waiting. A lot of times things sell through this website and I haven't even set up the paintings from my last show in my "purchase" gallery yet so who knows.

Sometimes I'll sell a piece years and years after I originally did it.

Anyway, as I have to remind myself, it's not just about making money (obviously) but the idea of being able support myself financially through art is a dream that just won't die.

on Friday, October 20th,">Sword Wielding Artist & Gallery Owner said

OK. I hate that.

Say this: "Can I ask you something?" They say yes (they always do)

"When you get your cable bill do you call them and ask for half off?" They will look at you oddly.

"When you your kids doctor bill do you ask for half off?" They will start looking around for an escape route...

"When you buy groceries do you ask the cashier for half off?" They should be getting the point by now...if not continue down the line. You can do all kinds of professions.

Here is the final one. “How would you feel if your boss asked you to cut your pay in half?”

What pisses me off even more is they know that at a show there is a mark up. By coming to you personally, they are trying to avoid the mark up. That means they are trying to screw me. I know I will never make a living off my gallery, but godamm it would be nice to break even. Assholes like this are why it may never happen.


on Friday, October 20th, Elise said

You and I have talked about this before, so...for the record you *know* that I agree with you, that if you make a contact through your opening and then sell the piece directly to that contact later...the gallery should still get their cut.

So, I didn't mention that but we're on the same page there!

on Friday, October 20th,">Rob said

I was speaking more from the artist point of view. as a gellery rep i trust artists to make the correct call. i hope you did not think i was implicating you in scheme to screw the gallery. i know that person was, but i trust you. just so you know. :hehe:

on Friday, October 20th, Judy Vars said

There are not very many places in this world where haggling and bartering are still used. Cars, art, personal services, but how insulting. If I decide to cut my art by 50% and sell it at a bargan basement price then thats different. I would have thought if he was interested he would have made a less insulting offer.
If the gallery makes 50% comission I can understand why so-and-so might have lowballed you. But in my opinion it is totally unprofessional make deals outside the gallery who is giving you representation unless everything is out in the open.

Something I always remind myself is: What I can accomplish everyday towards my goal seems small but there is no end to what a person can accomplish in 10 years!

on Friday, October 20th, greg said

know what I hate? when someone asks "oh, you're an artist ...can you make some signs for a bake sale I'm having?"

that's the lowest .... :P

Glad you stuck to yer guns!

on Friday, October 20th, Elise said

Ah, come on Greg, you're too high and mighty to paint some bake sale signs?

Art snob!

on Friday, October 20th, Elise said

Oh, and Judy, I'm sorry I missed your comment. I want to cut the guy some slack, after all, he likes my work and maybe just doesn't have the money or doesn't know how these things works. Anyway, I know the guy and don't want to say anything bad about him personally, it was just the situation or the timing maybe that hit me the wrong way.

And, I guess I can look at all the small things that add up in 10 years, only I haven't been doing a lot of small accomplishments either.

I did paint for several hours tonight. That felt really good.

on Sunday, October 22nd, Judy Vars said

you're way too hard on yourself (I can relate)