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Purchasing art from artists


Beginners and seasoned collectors often purchase art directly from the artist. This happens when the buyer is either a friend of the artist, or has, through a dealer, become familiar with the artist over the years. Artists often group together and hold their own exhibitions or hold “open studios”. The perception that the price of art is lower when purchased from the artist is often incorrect since professional artists maintain a consistent price structure for all sales, whether through their dealer, another source, or in the studio.

Mary Early, Washington DC artist, says:

"I think it is important to dissuade the public (and seasoned collectors) of the misconception that they can "get a deal" from an artist directly in their studio. An artist who is engaged in a mutually respectful relationship with a gallery will uphold the gallery price structure when hosting visitors to their studios. In the best of worlds, an artist will refrain from quoting prices, and refer any questions about prices as well as the handling of the sales transaction to the gallery.  We know that this is not always possible and there may be a different scenario for every studio sale." 

"A collector who visits an artist in the studio after viewing an exhibition, purposefully avoiding the dealer and hoping to purchase a similar work at a better price does not have the artist's best interests at heart. For example, if a collector visits my studio and expresses interest in a work, I may provide prices and at the same time remind them that any purchase would be made through the gallery. i.e., I will not assist them in avoiding paying sales tax, and they will not receive a 50% discount!"

 "A collector should recognize that when they visit an artist in the studio it is foremost an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of an intensely personal and often private activity."

 Artists realize that it is in their best interest to have a dealer to promote and sell their work. However, it is not easy for an artist to find a dealer who will be enthusiastic about his/her work and willing to commit to that artist for the long term. Photographer Peter ‘Guggi’ Rowan, one of Ireland's leading artists, gives us some insight on what artists face. Branding the country's gallery owners and art dealers as "snobs," he claims that he faced an uphill struggle to establish himself because of his humble roots.

In an interview with the Sunday Tribune in 2008 "Guggi" said, "I have met a huge amount of snobbery in the art business in Ireland. That attitude is rampant in Ireland. It's everywhere. I remember bringing my work to galleries when I was starting off and these people would enjoy the moment of treating you like s**t. They'd be asking 'what school did you go to?' 'Where were you educated?' I don't know whether it was because they wanted to be artists themselves, but it was some head-trip. There are exceptions to the rule. I've never met an artist with that attitude." Ironically, today Guggi's paintings sell out around the world.  It is important to note that hundreds of artists never find dealers and must survive by their wits, grouping together, holding open studios, selling their work on the internet and, hopefully, finding jobs to which they can bring their talents and creativity.

What do you think?

email: haslem@mac.com