Many artists complain that selling their works is difficult and that they don’t make very much, when they do sell something. Barely enough to cover their costs. In their minds, they equate a lack of people flocking to buy their pieces at healthy prices with a damning indictment of their lack of talent and skill.
It’s not true and it’s not just you.
Banksy, one of the most renown and infamous artists of our time, whose works are valued in the tens of thousands of dollars each, did a very interesting experiment recently. He set up a stall selling original works for just $60 each. Here’s what happened:
People are not mean or ignorant, they’re just busy. Without the information necessary to realise that these were bona fide, expensive artworks by a well known artist, being sold to lucky passers by for a song, people made (wrong) assumptions, took mental shortcuts and concluded that if it’s being sold at an open air stall, it must be worthless. Fooled by the shorthand.
The takeaway messages must surely be that presentation matters. Also, people, in the absence of credible and relevant information, are prone to undervaluing art. It also tells us that art is only worth what people think it’s worth. What was missing was anybody willing to pay a goodly sum, because of the beauty, or meaning or inherent qualities present in the art. They didn’t have enough time or knowledge to think on the matter.
As artists, if you find yourself at an exhibition of your works where nobody is buying, don’t despair. It says nothing whatsoever about the value and quality of your works or of you as an artist. Take comfort in that thought.
You’re in very good company.