Recently, I went to a party for artists given by an art collector. The house was unbelievable in the amount of artwork on display. It was almost floor to ceiling with paintings and sculpture. Several of my friends were represented in the collection, both sculptors and painters, along with Mian Situ and Paul Strisik. The collector said to me, “I don’t have one of yours, but I need to get one.” Then he said, “But I need a better price.” I told him we would make it happen.
He sat down and told me and a few others the story of how he began collecting art about 1985. He kept looking straight at me as he told the story. I had the feeling it was for my benefit. He said he met Paul Strisik at a show and fell in love with one of his paintings. He really wanted it, but said he didn’t have the money for it. Paul told him to take it home and to start sending him monthly payments. He then made monthly payments for 15 more years to go on to owning 25 Paul Strisik paintings. The collector said that we artists really needed to make it easy for those that loved painting to own one. If they loved art, they would become collectors once they found a way to start. In this case, the collector became a raving fan of Paul Strisik as a person and of his art.
I’m not sure giving the art to just anyone who professed to love it is the right thing to do. But, I do agree that we as artists need to make it easier for people to own art.
I talked to several artist friends about this and asked if they did anything like this. Here are some of the things that I heard others say:
- “I give the art to someone after they have made a down payment of 20%.”
- “After 30% down, I give the art to the client.”
- “I’ve taken post dated checks, putting one in a month for a certain period of time.”
- “After a down payment, I take specified monthly payments.”
- “I never hold the art to the end of payments.”
- “I let the client take home the art to try it, just giving me their credit card information.”
- “I always try to give the art to the client at the time of purchase when they are excited about it.”
I’ve had payment plans for clients buying art, but I never gave it to them until they already paid. One friend told me she always gave it to them after a down payment or shortly thereafter. Her thoughts were that she wants the client to receive the art when they are excited about it. If it is too long of a period of time before they receive the art, they may forget what it looks like or imagine something different, which could cause problems.
I’ve also let clients take a piece to their home and try it, leaving credit card information with me. I think this is a pretty standard practice. I haven’t had problems with this before.
I was surprised at how many artist friends gave the art to their client before they finished paying for it. One friend did give me a copy of a simple agreement for payments signed by both the artist and the client. It spells out the payments, dates payments are to be made and action if 20 days late on the payment. After listening to everyone talk about this subject, I think I will be more inclined to get a down payment, give them the art and take payments. But, I will also have each of us sign a contract spelling it out. It’s certainly not something I would do for anyone walking off the street, but if I have a good feeling about it, I will do it. I think the increase in sales may out weigh the chance that one painting might come up missing.
What do you think? Have you done anything similar? What are your experiences?