A cat shelter. But for art.
February 8, 2016 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I paint. It's therapeutic. Now I have a large number of paintings (well, and collage and mixed-media etc) and nothing in particular to do with them. I don't dislike them; I've hung some on the walls. But there's a lot of them, and it's kind of hard for me to outright destroy any. I'm considering selling some just to get them out of the house, but I have no idea how to do so.

The pictured ones aren't necessarily the ones I'm proudest of, they're just the result of an afternoon's work yesterday. They're a bunch of different sizes, on paper, canvas, canvas board, primed mdf... the lot. I don't particularly want to make money from this, which is probably just as well - I'd be happy to give them away if anyone actually wanted them. However, I'm unaware of any way to do this. Should I set up an etsy shop with really low prices? Is there any other way to get rid of them? I live in east London and would happily take them to a car boot or something if I thought that'd actually work.
posted by Acheman to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any friends who might want them?
posted by corb at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2016

I recommend Vango, a mobile app that has assisted me in selling more artwork directly to consumers than any other. Good luck!
posted by effluvia at 10:33 AM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I like the blue one!

Is it possible that there's some drab low-cost human dwellings near you that would benefit from some color, any kind of color, and that you would be willing to offer some of your art to people living there? Maybe you could just drive up one evening and hand out paintings from your car, or get some friends to do a "free art" event on a weekend.

Anyway, that sounds fun, if you could bear it. If you do this I definitely wish I could be part of it (but I'm too far away).
posted by amtho at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Many of these are wonderful. Why not have a show and sell them? Is there any local outfit with whom you are affiliated, like a shop or library or school that might agree to let you use their space for a cut? Also, it's a great idea to consider an online shop like Etsy.
posted by bearwife at 10:47 AM on February 8, 2016

If you really don't want any money for them I would just put them out on the street, maybe not right in front of your door, maybe in dribs and drabs, and people would adopt them pretty quick surely. Maybe in Shoreditch or somewhere locally trendy. Car boot might not be the right audience, how about asking bookshops / caffs if you can put them in a crate out front? or free painting with every coffee or something
posted by runincircles at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could donate them to a thrift store.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:57 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here in Portland we have something called "Saturday Market". Anyone who wants to can show up there and sell things, as long as it's something they made themselves. I see artists there all the time; that's common.

Is there anything like that where you live?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:05 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Donate them to places that don't always get the budget for decorative art - clinics, schools, local services buildings etc.
posted by terretu at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Find an alley in need of perking up and hang them up in there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2016

Offer some to a charity for a silent auction or other fund-raiser.
posted by jaruwaan at 11:18 AM on February 8, 2016

I can't see a tumblr on this computer, but a guarantee that they're better than the paintings in my doctor's office. So I second terretu's suggestion.
posted by Jahaza at 11:25 AM on February 8, 2016

Retirement/assisted living
posted by Sassyfras at 11:32 AM on February 8, 2016

Random acts of Art? Leave one or two someplace well-trafficked with a note explaining that yes, this is a free piece of art, just for you - please give it a good home.

Edited to add: Nice works!
posted by sarajane at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yard sale?

Your local independent coffee shop is the traditional up-and-coming artist's showcase; you just ask the manager if they are accepting artwork. Some will have a process where they will ask for photos and an application, some are just handshake agreements. You may sell some (the shop will take a cut) or you may not, but expect to get at least a couple pieces stolen from the show.

I just give my extra art to my local thrift store when the volume gets to be too much.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2016

Speaking as the child of a professional artist, I think the ones you've shown us are pretty nice and are likely to attract buyers. So try selling them before donating them. Let your friends and family have a look if you want to consider giving them away.

I strongly recommend holding off until the summertime, at which point there are likely any number of local outdoor festivals/fairs where you can set up a booth for a nominal price and sell what you've got over a weekend.

If you do want to sell via Etsy, then tube mailers are best for the roll-able drawings/paintings, least break-able. You can take canvas off the frame to roll them for shipping, and have the buyer get them re-stretched at an art framing shop.
posted by lizbunny at 2:02 PM on February 8, 2016

I really like the blue one and would be more than willing to adopt it, pay for shipping to have you send it to my home, where it would live in my den on the wall happily ever after.

I would even send you photos to show you how well it fit into my decor when I'm done decorating the room.
posted by slateyness at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a problem that confronts many artists. You sound like you are producing them too quickly. Explore what you can do if you take a week or two for a painting.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:58 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you can afford to let them go for free, you should TOTALLY have an "adopt a painting" event, with proceeds to your local dog or cat rescue. That line about wanting them "to be adopted, like scraggly cats" is genius. Have a salon with cupcakes and cocktails. Or ask a local cafe. Or, better yet, talk to the cat rescue and tell them you'll donate a ton of paintings for an "adopt-a-thon" event one evening -- folks can adopt each painting for $50 (or whatever). Half to the shelter, and half to you for supplies! If you can afford to let them go entirely, then say all adoption fees will go directly to the shelter! They can even bring kitties to the painting adoption night, and some of them might get adopted too!
posted by barnone at 3:46 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think you should start an Etsy shop and sell these for relatively cheap. You should call them "Angst Art" or similar. I would buy them.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:50 PM on February 8, 2016

I think that they're great and that you could sell them.

But you could also do something like Catlanta. Part street art, part scavenger hunt -- pretty neat concept.
posted by Ostara at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2016

This London flea market has a curated "DIY Art market"
posted by calgirl at 5:09 PM on February 8, 2016

I've got a couple of friends who are kind of in the same boat as you, and they just make a Facebook album of their paintings, posted for sale with quite low prices, which they will privately offer to further discount/waive if someone is moved to admiration but is really cash-poor.

A low price will move more art than offering them for free. Plenty of people would kind of like to have some sort of original art but don't feel qualified to buy anything "on the market," even from a student sale or the like, and literally can't imagine attempting to experiment with painting themselves. It's actually more comfortable to go ahead and pay something in compensation/acknowledgement. It's in a different category than giving away home-grown zucchini or banana bread or lending a hand moving a piece of furniture or mending a hem, or other such things that people routinely as a favor.

It also makes a better story when someone asks them where they got the painting above their couch, and I say that with absolutely no snark at all. "My friend loves to paint and sells her work inexpensively, hey, win-win" is just more fun to be proud of than "my friend loves to paint and is eager to give her stuff away to anyone willing to take it."
posted by desuetude at 10:30 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Instead of gessoing over them to re-use the canvasses, what about re-using them as they are? I get that you are doing a lot quickly for therapeutic purposes, so presumably you wouldn't get the same benefit from taking a long time to do just one painting. But, try taking some of them and putting them away for a few weeks, don't look at them for long enough to forget what they were all about. Then, start painting on the painted surface - you can totally paint over, or just add to the composition - layer the images, keeping what you like of the first painting, adding to it, taking it in a new direction. After a few rounds of this you could end up with some really interesting nuanced work. Or not? who knows? it would be fun to try, though.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:45 PM on February 9, 2016

Just echoing that if I went to a local festival/swap meet/art fair and you were there and I could pick up some of that art that you, yourself made at a low price while also talking to you about it, that I would be super into it. I love original art but can't usually afford the prices that someone who is trying to make a living off their art needs to charge. In-person is going to be better for this because that way you don't have to mess with shipping.

I'd pick a low but not super low price point and be prepared to talk about how you really want everyone who loves art to be able to have art and part of your artistic joy is sharing your creation and move pieces for, say, 50 bucks on average.

Another bonus in the sales range - think about different sizes/shapes. Somebody might be over the moon to find a tiny painting that's just right for that one odd corner that needs a splash of color... and it's only $20!

Also consider doing deep discounts for people who seem to really love a piece but not able to afford it. Cues you will be able to observe: they pick it up and carry it around before putting it back wistfully; they browse your table, go away, and come back; they stare at the price tag with the air of one doing math in their head; they come talk to you to tell you how much they love a piece but don't look like they will buy. A "it means so much to me that this piece speaks to you. I want you to have it" (or "give me $10 to cover the canvas and it's yours") could make that person's day.
posted by oblique red at 9:54 AM on February 10, 2016

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