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Does This One Come In Green? What & What Not To Ask Artists!

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Peter Stanick

This Question Is Sure To Send Any Artist Into An Eye Twitching Frenzy!

Does this come in another size / colour?  Gasp!  (This applies to original art)

The reason for bringing this up is that I was in a Art Gallery recently and overheard a couple looking at a Picasso lithograph; one of his cats.  I had to muffle myself when I heard them ask,

“Does this one come in green?”!!!

“Well yes,” said the dealer yelling, “Pablo could you quickly knock out an emerald green one?”  Well of course he didn’t but how great if he could!  We could all own a Picasso.  I couldn’t believe my ears, a Picasso!  An Andy Warhol perhaps but not a Picasso.  What the man himself would make of this is anyone’s guess.

Another story involves American Artist Tony Bechara, an abstract artist living and working in New York.  The story goes that the sale of a large piece of work was followed by a cringe worthy, eye twitching query.  The painting in question would not fit over the buyer’s sofa and Bechara was asked if he could cut four inches off the artwork!

In haste he had replied, “Why don’t they cut their sofa down instead?” and hung up the phone.  Luckily the buyer had taken this quite literally and had indeed taken the legs off the sofa.  The painting now fitted perfectly.  Which brings me to the question of what and what not to ask artists?

If you feel the artwork displayed simply will not match your new sofa or curtains (this is a consideration for some) then at least ask to look through the artist’s portfolio for something else or ask them to consider a commission.  Remember each piece is unique and valuable to the artist.

Overhearing comments like “that’s not art” and “my cat could do better” are unhelpful enough.  However awkward questions, albeit unintentional, regarding price, time taken or colour options can make for a very uncomfortable moment.

Of course some artists could help out here.  We mere civilians don’t always know what we are talking about.  Some may want to buy a piece of art but feel lacking in knowledge and don’t want to appear stupid.  With so much art jargon out there it can be intimidating.


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How Do We Talk To Artists & Not Make A Complete Fool Of Ourselves?

Here is a little guideline of what NOT to ask:

Is this piece finished?  Definitely a red alert.  You can safely assume that if it is on the wall and for sale then it is indeed finished.

Do not suggest that their work is just like……Most Artists would like to feel that their work is unique.  Try not to compare or suggest imitation.  You can ask who they are influenced by.

How long did it take you to make this?  Many factors are taken into account when pricing an artwork and Artists do find it difficult especially early in their career.  If there were two similar pieces and you liked the one that took less time would you want to pay less?

What do you do for a living?  Ouch!  Most Artists ultimately aim for their work to pay for itself and yes many will have to initially work elsewhere to bring in the bread and beer money.  Creating art is what they do for a living and they will want to be regarded as such.

Do you work at home?  A tricky one this.  You are showing a genuine interest in their work.  However I have known some Artists to feel that if they answer yes to the question you will view them as hobbyists and not take their Artwork seriously.  Where an Artist works is neither here nor there as open studios prove.  Artists work in studio buildings, in garden sheds and even canal boats.  Let the work speak for itself.

What Do Artists Like To Hear?

I love your work, is this for sale?

Who influences you?

Can I see more?

I work for the TATE; can we buy this piece for our collection?

Can I help sponsor a big show for you?

Is this for sale? (I know I said this already but Artists really do like this one!)

You don’t have to take these questions too literally.  Artists want their work to be valued and recognized and you can do this by viewing the work and asking thoughtful questions.  After all, the artwork has taken time to create and the respectful thing to do is look at it even for a second.

Of course the sound of hard cash would be just as welcome I’m sure!

With all this in mind enjoy any Open Studios, Private Views and Art Exhibitions that you may go to and remember that buying Art should be fun! Buy what you love despite what others think and you can’t go far wrong.

Unless it doesn’t fit above the mantle or match the curtains that is!


Read Private View Etiquette for more information on how to behave at Private Views!

Do you have any dos and don’ts to add?  Has anything happened at your Open Studio / Art Show that made you twitch?

Fancy creating your own Art?  Buy Art Supplies online from Pullingers Art Shop or pop into one of our stores in Kingston, Epsom and Farnham.  Our staff will help you find what you need to start creating your own Artwork.

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