Yesterday I read John Foley's blog post at The Imagine Gallery.
I decided that I wanted to be an artist when I was six years old. As I grew up I realised that in order to do so I would have to make sacrifices. I would probably never have enough money to buy a house, probably never have children. Holidays were rare and unusual things. I wanted to paint and draw. That was all I wanted to do. I would always be poor, because very few people manage to live off their art. All of these were conditions I accepted so that I could follow a path that I chose and spend my days pushing coloured water around on paper, scribbling and later writing.
I have been very lucky. A run of work for a card company enabled me to gather enough money to put a deposit on a house. It is amazing how years of frugal living can suddenly lead to savings as money comes in. I met a man who I loved who wanted to look after the children so that we could have a family and I could continue to work and was blessed with two very beautiful babies.
It was a great sadness to me when just as we seemed to be finding our feet and he was working also doing something that really fired his mind our paths went in very different directions ( a nice way of putting something that was a very painful time).
For the last ten years I have painted and illustrated and written and been a single parent. And life has been good, but not always easy.
I sell my paintings. It is always hard to put a price on them, but I do find what I think is a fair price. I am very lucky in that it seems that much of what I do is desirable and people find pleasure in my work. This is a great privilege. And what I am trying to find in this post is a way of saying how I feel when someone goes into a gallery and asks for a discount on the price.
Some years ago a gallery I showed with phoned. There was a man in the gallery who wanted to buy a painting of a red winged angel. "He wants it, but he doesn't want to pay £1 700 for it. What shall I do?" " Tell him to pay in instalments or buy something else." I suggested. "We need the sale, " the gallery replied. " Then wait for someone who values the painting enough to pay what I ask," I answered. The gallery sold it at a discount and took the hit themselves out of their comission. Happy gallery, happy punter, very unhappy artist. To me it feels as if people think I am trying to cheat them. I don't want to play the game of putting an extra £2 or £300 on a painting so that I can go, "I tell you what, I'll knock a couple of £ off because I like your face." I price the work. That is how much it is. If people want it, fall in love with it then that is the price. I do not sell used cars. I do not go to the supermarket checkout at the end of a shop and go, "I tell you what, knock £30 off and I'll take the lot." And I do know that bartering is a game that people like to play, but I don't.
Likewise for a gallery. I know how much work goes into putting on an exhibition, paying for invitations and post. I have never paid for publicity, but exhibitions, framing, commission etc all eats away at money and even more at time. I am so lucky that John Foley and The Imagine Gallery found me. In my working life I have wasted so much time with galleries who want my work and then say, "Oh, these are a little expensive for us. I don't think we can get those sort of prices from our clients." And then they sell work and it takes me months to get the money from them.
John has such an eye for beautiful things. My visit to the gallery in September will be my first visit there, other than online. So looking forward to it. I feel very privileged to show my work with John at Imagine.
The wind is rattling over the house and shaking it like a ship at sea. Blue sky and fast clouds outside and I have said too much.
The red winged angel would now sell for between £2 500 and £3 000. I doubt very much that if the gentleman sold it he would offer me a share for all the hard work that I have done in honing my skills as an artist and 'building my market' and all that sales jargon nonsense, that has led to an increase in the price of his angel.
Someone once asked me if I thought my work was a good investment. I said no. They looked surprised. You should never buy a piece of art as an investment. You should buy a piece of art because you love it, because it speaks to you, because it sings to your heart and soul, because it gives you pleasure, because it intrigues, because it challenges, because it is beautiful, because you can't not buy it.
My answer would be different now. I would say, it depends what you value.