Why many artists don't like 'Let's make a deal'

The season of art fairs culminated with Greenwich Village Art Fair and Rockford Artists’ Fair. Both had great attendance, weather and, most importantly, sales.

I overheard a comment made by a Fair patron that I shared with artist Keith Grace. The Fair patron said: “I saw a painting I liked, but it was too much money. I wonder if I could ‘deal’ with them.”

I was so disappointed to hear this. This wasn’t a flea market, this is artwork, creations from the very soul of the artist, and the person wanted a bargain!

Grace’s response: “This is our livelihood. You don’t go into the doctor and say, ‘I’d like to pay you $50 instead of $80 for your services.’ You don’t do that to the plumber or the grocer.”

Grace shared the difficulty artists have in pricing their artwork in the first place, and to have someone offer less can be a tremendous insult. Grace did, however, tell me that if he has a collector who purchases multiple pieces, he is happy to provide a reduced price.

We talked about the rewards of owning original artwork. Grace said: “People spend all kinds of time choosing a sofa or a rug, and they should make the same investment of time and money for artwork. Once they purchase their first piece, realize the importance of its role in their home, they want to purchase more.”

We agreed that it’s similar to committing to a tattoo. Once you get your first one, you are thinking about your next one. What artistic feature will you add? You want something of quality and something that will bring you happiness for many years. However, unlike a tattoo, artwork can be passed down through generations.

Ready to commit? Don’t miss ArtScene, Oct. 6-7.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the Sept. 27-Oct.3, 2006, issue

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