Why I'm Offering Art at the Price of Pay What You Want

oil on canvas, 18x24 cm (7x9.5in)  

 

Yesterday, I rushed home after a dinner out, switched on my laptop, and tuned into catch the last half of Abundant Artist Founder Cory Huff's amazing webinar with Tom Markes, proponent of Pay What You Want (PWYW) pricing.

Even though I was late, and on the other side of the globe, Middle East to be exact, the session grabbed me right away. I'm not going to regurgitate what was taught in the webinar, Tom does a pretty good job of explaining it himself. But I'm going to explain a few reasons why I personally will be dishing out the new, improved way of doing business.

  • Another term for it is "Karma Pricing." That sounds fluffy and cute right? Like you immediately feel good when you get on board with a great cause, and Tom explains how PWYW works best when you offer your potential customer a way to have some of their spending go to charity. But what's even better is that I get to make the intention to give in charity, something that, unfortunately, I have not been very good about lately. I'm still deciding on a good charity, and while Tom suggests donating to an art-related charity, I'm leaning toward allying with Operation Smile. It's a great cause and these doctors do great work. What better reason to buy a piece of beautiful art than knowing it can help a child get a beautiful smile!
  • Selling art is scary enough to make you almost never do it. A strange thing happens to artists when we try and sell our art. We usually underprice our work because we lack confidence in ourselves and even other people. And sometimes we price our work according to a fair price and it sits in storage waiting for some patron saint. PWYW is the meeting place between Free and Fixed Price.
  • It's a faster way for me to connect with the people who love my work and want it in their homes. A friend of mine wanted a few abstract paintings that I did recently. It was a hard talk, but I told her my retail price for the work, and when she realized that they would cost a bit higher than she could manage, she waited. She even let me know that she would be saving up her discretionary money to pay for my art. It means that much to her. I'm honored and plan to present her with the painting she wants and allow her to pay for it at the price she values. I can't wait because I know the painting will be going to a good home.
  • It feels better. It opens up the dialogue about my art and allow my biggest supporters to feel included. The truth is, I never planned on selling my art for a living. Art was always a release for me and about the experience of art-making. To this day, it is still my deepest meditation. To put a price tag on the end product would be to account for the hours spent visualizing a piece, the time, the backaches, the failures, the mistakes, and the triumph. It feels better to have the experience accounted for in a more meaningful way than a mere add-to-your-cart transaction.
  • It allows people to be generous. Abu Dhabi's been good to me in my short 10 months of being here. People here have been quick to purchase my paintings when I went out to the public, and those people are nice enough to talk about my art with others, and they've repeatedly told me to start charging more. That's pretty generous! PWYW can encourage new and returning buyers to pay above a fixed price because they can, and more importantly, because they want to. It's as simple as: if you like a painting, let me know, tell me why you value it, and what you're willing to spend on it.

All in all, buying art is an very personal decision, and so is sharing my work everyday with others. Supporting an artist whose work you believe in is a great thing that shouldn't be barred to a select group. I believe art matters, and that's why I seize every chance I get to make and share good art. Good stuff. Good vibes.

The easiest way for me to reach everyone will be through a secure newsletter sent out periodically. If you'd like to sign up, please join my mailing list. Thanks!

 

List of some creative things happening via PWYW:

Scott Hynd - pop artist with graphics that'll make you look twice.

Radiohead - nuff said.

Philadelphia Museum of Art - only on Wednesdays, but it's a start.

Amanda Palmer - performance artist and general quirk. Watch her TedTalk on asking.