With increasing frequency, I am being asked by galleries if they may be allowed to offer discounts on my works which they are showing.
The enquiry usually runs along the following lines…
“I just wanted to let you know our usual policy on sales discounts. Firstly we do not volunteer discounts, it is only if a potential buyers asks and we feel it would ‘seal the deal’ would we consider it. As with usual ‘gallery practice’ we would not offer anymore than 10% – less if at all possible. Could you let me know if this would be agreeable to you?”
I find this grossly insulting, and I hope other artists do too. Before I had ever submitted the artwork to the gallery, I spent much time carefully pricing the work submitted as per my usual practice. After considerations of materials, time, commission and transport costs are taken into account, I am making something barely above minimum wage. My margins are as tight as any serious practicing artist I know.
Moreover, I tend to feel that if a person asks for and receives a discount, they don’t actually deserve to own one of my artworks. They devalue my work and demean themselves. They don’t actually appreciate the artwork; it has simply become another commodity bargain target. Worse for them, if their offer is accepted by the artist, they are left with a vaguely nagging suspicion that if they had held out further, they might have won a greater concession from the gallery.
Whenever I have asked such a buyer [and it is usually a doctor, lawyer or dentist] if they would be prepared offer a discount for their services to anyone who cared to haggle, they don’t entertain the concept! How strange..
Of more importance to me is the real sense that if I did offer concessions on my art, I would be doing previous purchasers of my work, who did not press for a discount, a great disservice. Why should they be penalised for paying the asking price without question?
I actually do offer discounts on sales -but these are only available to people who have bought my work in the past. This is a policy which rewards loyalty. I recommend this to other artists as an operational model.