Since introducing the concept in February 2015, giving my paintings away for free has become a cornerstone of my practice. I have found it more defining than I had expected. For those unfamiliar, many of the paintings illustrated on my website have been made available for free to anyone who simply emailed me. Whilst I was doing this my only request was that recipients cover any costs incurred in getting their paintings where they want them.
Initially it was the case that I gave every single one of my paintings away. At that time painting was what I called an ‘involved hobby’. I had to fit it in around full time work and family life and as such sales did not enter into the equation. It was reward enough that the work was getting out there, however, in August 2016 I began painting full time, making far more work and started selling my paintings rather than giving them all away.
I do remain committed to maintaining the free painting project in some form however. It has become so critical to my practice that to abandon it would be to remove a huge part of my ethos and much of what I believe differentiates my approach from the majority of the art world. My hope is that this project will continue to benefit both myself and the recipients. Everyone likes a freebie and in a small way perhaps this gives people the opportunity to own something they might not otherwise have expected to. I benefit in that now and again my paintings are going out there and ‘doing’ something more than simply being another item dropped into the world of commerce.
if you would like to be added to my mailing list and receive notification when new paintings become available, offered either for sale or free, please email me.
The other side of the coin
Like many, many artists I aim to sell my paintings. It isn’t easy because, in terms of the basics of retail, necessity and purchase, art is a vague and nebulous thing. It is not a necessity like food. It is often a retail item, but whilst most people could tell you the price of a pint of milk, only a tiny percentage of the population are even vaguely aware of the market value of one piece of art versus the next. Artists are asking you to buy something you definitely don’t need, for what is usually a relatively high price based on the intrinsic value of the materials and can therefore very often seemed plucked out of the air. And more often than not all this is based on the intended buyer’s own entirely subjective aesthetic preference. Sounds a tough sell at the best of times.
I would like to be able to make this a little easier if I can. I can’t make my paintings essential to your life. They aren’t and never will be. I can’t change your aesthetics either. You’ll either like them, or you won’t. I can try to convince you, but honestly I’d prefer you trust your own judgement. I don’t want to try to talk you into something you don’t want to do. That doesn’t really help either of us.
So, the part I can affect is the pricing. Having worked in the art world for more than a decade I have some insight into how high end art is priced. There are various factors to be considered depending on the piece in question but the fact is that plucking a number out of the air does happen to a certain extent, and a four digit number is a pretty big one to invent in most anyone’s book.
My solution to this is to price my paintings based on an entirely transparent and easily calculable formula. So, let’s talk turkey. How much for a painting? It’s pretty straightforward:
Existing painting (one I have made by my own choice):
5 pence per square centimetre of surface area + transport costs = total price.
Production costs + 5 pence per square centimetre of surface area + transport costs = total commission price.
To better define these factors:
5 pence per square centimetre
Exactly that. For every square centimetre of surface area of the painting (height x width) I charge 5 pence (£0.05). I feel this is a relatively modest price. To put it into real terms a painting 25 x 20cm works out as 500cm2, so £25. A painting 100 x 150 = 15,000cm2 , so £750. In the case of a commission the client may decide the size (based on commercially available stretcher bars or wooden boards), so they’re in complete control of this cost.
Whatever it costs to get the painting where the client wants it. Sometimes nothing if collected in person. Otherwise postage or courier or airmail or delivery or whatever.
Production costs (applicable to commissions only)
Materials such as the stretcher, canvas, drawing pins, paint (if I need to buy in specifically) or anything else required for which I will incur a cost.
All costs are of course agreed in advance and in the case of commissions an up front deposit to cover materials may be required.
So there you go. I think that’s pretty clear, fair and eliminates a bit of the commercial art world’s smoke and a few of its mirrors, which is no bad thing in my book.