Recently I attended the Bayou Festival at Independence Park, mostly to support friends of mine who were selling art. Personally I am glad that I didn’t participate for a couple of reasons. One, Charlotte was being its typical self this time of year, with the temperatures reaching into the upper 80’s and low 90s, with plenty of humidity. Secondly, with all of the Cajun food and beer that was being purchased, I felt that there was no way my art could compete with that.
So I hung out with Ben and Sheryl under their tent for awhile. They did confirm that there were a lot of people that were lining up for the food more than anything. Ben said that he made a handful of sales but apparently the funnel cake stand across from their tent was getting more action.
At one point this couple comes by the table and the lady in particular is drawn to a popular photograph of Ben’s that is a plethora of apples piled in a large crate. She picks up the framed photograph and then turns it around to the back to check the price. When there wasn’t a price on the back she asks Ben how much it costs. Ben replies that its $30 and the smaller framed prints were $25. As she clutches the picture of apples in her hand she asks, “Will you take $20?”
After a split second of deafening silence, Ben respectfully declined the $20 bid. After the couple left, he said to me, “I’m not desperate.”
I had to laugh. It was a bit insulting considering that her offer to pay for the apples photograph was even less than that of the smaller photographs sitting on the table. Ben said, “What would she have offered for the others, $10?”
This is why I don’t want to play the negotiating game when it comes to selling art. Obviously that lady had much to learn about the art of the deal. Ben actually said he would have thought about accepting $25 for it. I thought why couldn’t she just pay the $30? It was a nice piece.
Personally I have not had this kind of experience but I don’t believe I am that open to negotiating. As a newbie artist trying to get my work out in the public eye, and the current state of the economy, you would think that I would be. My initial reasoning for not doing so is that, shoot, I work hard to produce my art and it isn’t something that comes out of my behind in an hour or less. I worry about selling myself short particularly with pieces that require a lot of time and energy. For me the only times I would engage in negotiations would be if a person were either a repeat buyer, or buying multiple items. The additional reason would be if I am trying to get rid of excess inventory. In the case of the latter I would just mark down the items.
Like Ben I am not desperate. He is retired and I have a full time job. There are pieces of mine that if people won’t buy for that particular price, then back up on my living room wall they go.
Who knows maybe after some time I may soften up on the issue but I’m not ready to do that yet.
For you artists out there, I’d love to know your thoughts or personal experiences on negotiating prices.