Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art Auctions - Something to Think About

I get a lot of requests to donate my work for art auctions. I almost aways decline because there is usually no benefit to the artist financially or career-wise.

This year I donated to the MassArt Auction. They do incredible marketing, and it's been in existence for 22 years, so the auction is a highly regarded event. My piece sold for 150% of the opening bid to a really good benefactor, and both MassArt and I both benefitted financially.

I also recently donated to another auction as I mentioned in my post on April 4th. Quite honestly, participating in that auction was a bad decision on my part. I think the organizers thought that an auction would be an automatic financial success, but it takes time and hard work make that happen. While their intentions were good, I wasn't impressed with the PR before and during the auction. In the end, I think only two people sold their work, and it was very difficult to get my work back after the auction ended.

I always try to make good career and art business decisions about what to participate in, but sometimes I don't. Then I read the article "The Career Benefits of Boycotting Charity Art Auctions," written by Mat Gleason in the Huffington Post on June 8, 2011, and he confirmed my thoughts about donating. Here is the first paragraph of his article:

"There is a tradition of auctioning original works of art donated by artists to raise money for charitable causes. There are many good causes that hold such events. No matter how good the causes, though, I have come to the conclusion that artists must stop donating to every single one of them." Read more.

I still see the benefit of donating to the MassArt Auction because they let the artist choose from a menu of items about what they get in return. I will probably not donate to any other auctions again unless there's a really good reason or benefit to me. It's going to take a lot to convince me of that.