Affordable Arts Festival - my thoughts

The Affordable Arts Festival (AAF), where nothing is over $100, was very successful for me again.  There was a huge crowd waiting to get in at 10am.  The $5 entry fee goes to the scholarship fund for the college, so that makes it a feel-good event.

I sold 27 paintings and prints.  Most of my old inventory (realism paintings I did 6-10 years ago) has now found new homes.
It's so nice to be at an art festival where you see almost everyone with a painting or two under their arm.
People were waiting in line at my booth to pay for
things - gasp - that's unheard of!


since I'm running out of old inventory that I'm willing to sell at drastically reduced prices, the question becomes, How can I produce art that sells at $100 and still make it worth my while????? I often sell 6x6's online for $100, but this crowd wants BIG paintings, preferably framed!

The crowd is looking for bargains.  They have no real concept of what it costs to produce original art, and they're certainly not willing to pay for it.

They are looking for paintings at least 11x14.  The largest one I sold was an unframed 24x30 oil landscape (that I hated) that they tried to talk down the price from $100. Sheesh!

                    12 Poppies, R by Carol Nelson mixed media ~ 14 x 14

One lady wanted to purchase the above 14x14 print for $95.

When I told her it was a giclee reproduction, she backed out - "Oh, I only want original paintings."  This kind of person has no problem purchasing "fine art photography."

Most artists have work that's been lying around their studio for years.  They donate these pieces, or gift them, or trash them.  The AAF is a way to, hopefully, recoup your materials cost, at least.

For artists like me, whose style has evolved over the years, and changed quite a bit, getting rid of unwanted inventory in a style you no longer do, makes some sense.

For artists who are painting the same way today that they were 10 years ago, it presents a problem.  Selling work so cheap will devalue what they are doing now.



Sue Marrazzo said...


Saundra Lane Galloway said...

Great question you posed Carol. My first thought was if we are painting the same way we did 10 years ago we are not growing as artists and perhaps need to clear out our inventory so we can start with a new adventure...hmmm...but, I understand your real question...Discounted work for a day...perhaps not a bad thing, but discounted to $100 from prices that may rise to over a $1000 normally...not so good...I'd say, prints...I keep thinking of that collector that paid $1000 and you're now facing someone who wants to bargain for 100...sheesh! Just ANSWERING this question should be the perfect demonstration of how hard this question can be!!

Ellen Roles said...

Carol ,
This is a great post! THANK YOU for detailing your thoughts. I find the same is true in the 'small town' of La Crosse.

Barb Pagani said...

Hi Carol,

I agree with you about donating them, gifting them but I am curious what does AAF mean?

Thank you for sharing your insights


Wallartidea said...

Such a great post.

Susan Brehm said...

I love this blog post! I have these very same questions. My perspective is a bit different - I would like to produce inexpensive art to sell, but as you said, how do I make it worth my time and effort?

I wish I had the answer - I hope to see ideas!

Johanna Cellucci said...

Quite interesting observations Carol...thanks for sharing.

fine art oil paintings said...

Excellent FINE ART BLOG.

Julie Ford Oliver said...

The collectors who pay full price for an artist's work shudder at situations like you described, Carol. This viewpoint was raised at a forum I attended in Las Angeles a few years ago. At that time I was donating work to every charity and seeing it sold at silent auction for give-a-way prices. I came away from the forum with a new goal. Weed out and settle on one or two charities a year and donate only a print or a small work and make it different to my gallery work.
Fits in with your idea of using paintings in past styles.
Saundra has it correct.

Jane Hunt said...

Glad it went well! You bring up a good question. For shows I think the only way to not devalue your current work is to make it clear that these pieces are discounted only because they're old. Online it's harder though as people see various prices 'side by side'!