Sorry, No Discount

Last May, I went to a workshop to learn about pricing artworks, commissions, how to approach galleries and shops, etc., etc., etc. And the one thing I learned was a stern warning artists should never undercut galleries and shops and sell work directly at a lower price; it's against the artist's code of ethics, she said.

And the woman leading the workshop was a gallery owner.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

If you see the relationship as a manufacturer/retailer relationship, from the retailer's point of view, this would be true. From the manufacturer's point of view, since we are not paying commission to the outlet, we could sell the merchandise at a lower price. From the buyer's point of view, this would be true, wouldn't it?

So when prospective clients want to come and visit my "studio", besides the fact that our place looks pretty hidious right now, (well, the garden looks hidious most times), I feel a little paranoid wondering how to say no if they ask for a lower price than in the gallery. That's what happened earlier this week; I gave her an ever-so-tiny discount.

How do you work this out?


  1. The problem is that if you undercut the gallery, the gallery will drop you. And not only will the gallery drop you, you may well be black-listed at other galleries. So, if you need galleries as a venue for selling, don't undercut them; if you don't need them, then undercut them all you please. And, of course, if you sell tons without the gallery and win tons of awards, they will probably be fighting to get you anyway.

  2. So, that's easy, in my case, absolutely no discount.

    Do people who visit you directly expect it, though? Over here, they do, because in their minds they are visiting the 'manufacturer'.

    Funny thing is, I don't hesitate to just spell out the gallery prices when it's a commission piece. It's only when I'm asked about the already made-up piece that I feel a bit mean.

    Yet another thing I need to get used to, Peg!

  3. Yes, this happens in the US. When I am purchasing another artist's creations and I found the artist myself and tracked them down at their studio I pay the artists price. If a gallery was involved even the slightest bit I pay the gallery price. Needless to say with the internet it is easy to find artists directly.

  4. Lynne, that, to me, makes more sense, but apparently it's not on. I think bartering is easier; I'll take one tiny cashmere scarf for a big bag of zucchinis any summer.


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