We all know how the saying goes: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it," right? Turns out, it's not necessarily true when it comes to art.
My biggest art-collecting pet peeve is that so many artists and galleries don't list prices on their websites. I believe this does a huge disservice to collectors and to the artists themselves. Many people feel uncomfortable asking, because if it's too expensive (as it must be, if the price isn't listed), you're forced to awkwardly end the conversation after appearing interested. No one wants to go through that. And even for those that wouldn't feel embarrassed in that situation, the the added step of inquiring feels like an antiquated hassle in an age where people are very used to the ease of shopping online. So frustrating.
But I digress. This isn't a site for artists; it's for collectors. And my advice to collectors, if you are interested in a piece, just go ahead and ask. In my experience, it could go either way. I don't always ask, but of the times I did, I've been pleasantly surprised about 1/3 of the time. Recently I asked about a piece I loved online, and fully expected it to be around $10K. It was about a quarter of that--still very expensive for our family, but not outside the realm of the possible. In another recent example, I didn't specifically ask, but I saw that an artist I like and follow on Instagram was selling a few pieces there. She doesn't list prices online, but I would have guessed her pieces were around $1,500-$3,000. The ones selling on Insta were only $500-600. Of course, it can absolutely go the other way too. Not too long ago, I saw a piece I loved online, and I thought "This might be $25,000, but it might just be $2,500." In that case my first guess was right. (C'est la vie.) But my point is that it's often really hard to gauge the price, and you might be talking yourself out of something more affordable than you think.
Collectors, have you ever been surprised after inquiring about the price of an art piece? Was it the pleasant sort of surprise or an unanticipated level of sticker shock?
Readers, I'm always looking for more of these quick tips. They can be about anything related to art collecting: finding art, purchasing art, hanging art, living with art... you get the idea. If you have a one you can share, please shoot me a note from the Contact page.