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2013 Archive

Doing business the hard way: Price, Value, Cost, and Expense.

Notoriety 1

 I was teaching a Saturday Drawing course at a well-known Southern California Art Center. Near the entry to the galleries was a display wall where each instructor teaching a class was encouraged to show one of their artworks to promote the art classes available through the Center.

One Saturday I showed up to teach and was about two hours into the class when one of the docents stopped by to see me. She asked me to make sure I stopped in to see her before I left the Center that day as she had a funny story to tell me. When I caught up with her later in the break room there was a group of docents waiting for me. Something told me this was going to be an interesting story.

It seems the preceding Saturday morning, just after I’d left the building for the day, an Interior Designer had walked through the hallway where the instructor works hung and was quite taken with my painting; however she thought it was priced a little too high for the budget she was working with. A couple of hours later that same day, an artist showed up early for an appointment with the curator to discuss the possibility of doing a gallery show sometime in the future. While waiting for the meeting to start the artist had walked down the same display hallway and was heard to make a series of loud disparaging remarks.

Undercutting someone’s business

The docent walked down the hall to see what the commotion was. The artist was irate demanding to know who I was, how dare I charge a lower amount than he does and, that because of artists like me who charge so little for their work that it undercuts his business.

Notoriety 2

When the artist set up his display the docent was surprised to see that indeed his paintings were somewhat similar to mine in size, subject matter and medium. The only difference was his paintings were priced four times higher than mine. He stormed out of the facility about an hour later when the curator said the Center was not interested in showing his work. Later that afternoon the curator told the docent she thought the artworks were just OK, but unreasonably overpriced for an artist with no prior shows, exhibits, or sales.

Notoriety is the best promotion.

The same painting on the same wall four hours apart, in the late morning it was priced too high, and then later in the afternoon it was priced too low. What I appreciated was that the docent thought this was so funny that she told everyone in the Center about what happened. Within days more people came to look at my painting than would have seen it had it been in a highly acclaimed show.

The following week the docent called me to tell me the painting had been sold to one of the directors of the Center who thought the price was just right.

About the Author

Lawrence Klepper

Lawrence Klepper

As an artist, Gallery Management Instructor, Gallery Director, Independent Curator, and Special Exhibitions Coordinator for City art museums, college art galleries, and commercial galleries in Califor...