Or have you ever put your art in an online auction and wondered why it didn’t sell or went for such a low price?
If you’ve been thinking about selling your art in online auctions or even if you have tried it in the past, there are some important things you need to know.
I am going to be very honest and upfront with you and tell you that for almost four years I sold my art on one of these auction websites. I know, I’m a little embarrassed to tell you this. Of course, I can’t tell you which site it was because I don’t want to make any enemies here. But I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about.
In those four years I became kind of an online auction expert. I learned a lot about selling on this kind of platform.
And I’m here to tell you that if you are a serious artist hoping to build a lifelong career you should stay away from these kinds of sites.
Here are my 5 top reasons why you should never sell your art on auction websites:
1. You are digitally sharecropping
This is the big one.
Your main internet presence always should be your own website or blog. The reason for this is that you will be in control of all aspects of the business as it grows. When you try to grow a business on another website, you control less and less. If they change the rules about how they want you to do business (which happens a lot), you may be in conflict with those rules and driven off the site.
Also, these websites can disappear overnight. Remember Myspace? If you spend lots of time and money building a name on one of these sites and they go out of business, so will you.
2. It makes your art look cheap
The idea and the promise behind the auction websites is that your work will be bid up to high prices. Trust me, this never happens.
What really happens is that you start your precious art piece at a low price to attract the highest number of possible buyers and then it ends up selling for that same low price. There are lots of reasons for this that I learned over the years, and I’m not going into all of them here. But the main reason is that these sites are bargain basement websites full of cheap buyers and cheap customers.
I’ve said this before in this blog and so this time I am going to shout it: Stay out of the bargain basement.
Cheap customers are the worst customers. They complain the most. They want the most returns. They are never happy and never satisfied.
You do not want your precious original art associated with the idea that someone can have it at a cheap price. This is not how the real art world works…..ever.
3. It makes you look like a desperate seller
The first thing that anyone thinks when something isn’t selling is that maybe they should lower the price. This is a logical assumption. But it is a very wrong one.
Anyone can lower their price and go broke.
Lowering the price (especially in the art world) is seen as a act of desperation by a desperate seller.
I remember reading about an art gallery in New York City a few years ago that had a “sale.” They were trying to be like a department store. This is unheard of in the art world and even a little absurd and ridiculous. The gallery quickly went out of business.
4. It can harm your reputation with the real mainstream art gallery system
Okay, I’m going to tell you my most embarrassing story. I’m only going to share it with you because I know that you are serious about your art career and I know what you will learn from it will help you a lot. Are you ready?
In 1998 when I was a newcomer to New York City, I became associated with several art galleries. But since I was a new artist, my work was not selling that well. So I decided to supplement my income with some sales on the internet. I put my work on some auction sites at very low prices.
Yes, I made some extra money. And that’s how I justified continuing to do it. But what do you think happened?
One of the gallery directors found out that I was flooding the market with cheap priced versions of my art. They were furious and quickly ended their relationship with me.
This mistake cost me a lot. It cost me a relationship with a premiere art dealer in New York City.
5. It floods the market with too much of your work
Let’s face it, the art world is very small. The balance of supply and demand in this market is very delicate. You never want a lot of your work floating around out there.
People only want and desire what is scarce and getting scarcer.
And that’s the problem with selling on the auction websites. You have to sell a lot to make enough money to survive. This is not a good strategy if you are serious about being a career artist.