In mid April 2012 I began moving my artwork into my new studio space at Primary (the work had been in temporary storage). I realised during the move that I have shifted the entire contents of my studio on four occasions in less than a year... each time I sorted through some of the work and made decisions as to what I wanted to keep and what I needed to throw out. I have previously (every couple of years...and usually in January) identified work that I would get rid of...and so the process continued until 2010. From this date hence I believed I had thrown everything out that I had considered no longer pertinent...I admit the majority of the work had never been included in any exhibitions and I don’t possess a record of all the works produced...I simply could no longer see the purpose of holding onto everything.
I took all but my remaining large canvases up to the new first floor studio (The large paintings remained for the time being in the storage space on the ground floor of Primary). I began to sort through, the small paintings, drawings, sculptures and works on paper...creating two piles...one for keeping and one for...to begin with I wasn’t certain what to do with it...do I destroy the work, try to give it away or attempt to sell some of it?
A week later I pulled out all the large paintings and spread them out in the large Hall at Primary...I had previously decided that I wanted to reduce my remaining stock of work by some 60-70%. This percentage would be rigorously adhered to...after 24hrs I reduced the number of Multi-Fold paintings I would be keep to ten...over the years I had produced some 170/200 paintings.
After making my final selection I took both sets of paintings up to the studio...The paintings for keeping were wrapped and stored...the others have gone onto the other pile...The only painting I destroyed that day was a 12ft x 5ft landscape painting from 1991...After much deliberation I decided I would make use of the Primary project space and hold a clearance sale event...
Of the remaining artworks?; I believe I wish to keep the remainder; possibly as a personal record or a history as to what I have been doing for the past twenty or so years...all this testimony however feels like a huge weight upon my shoulders...reducing the burden may help.
On the subject of pricing...having given some thought to this; I have decided that I would have items in the clearance sale between the £0 and £250 price bracket. There is only one item, a large Multi-fold Diptych that is in the higher price range. The other 6ft x 5ft Multi-folds are all priced at £200...this is outlandishly cheap I’d say. What could I compare this price to you may ask? ...about five years ago I sold a crimson Multi-Fold for over £2500 and I guess that was what I based my price upon. Other works in the sale will also be for sale at similarly affordable prices...Most work will be in the £1 to the £40 bracket...there was a work that I sold this year for £400 (one of a series of paintings)...for this clearance sale I shall offer similar works for £30. Several days ago I spoke to a colleague about the sale and told them about my pricing...you are selling my work too cheaply they said, I responded; this clearance sale should not be taken in context of what I have previously sold work for (I had always hoped that the work would have command higher prices)...it is not about market forces but simply about trying to get as much work into the hands of as many people as possible (after the sale the remainder has to be committed to the great art skip in the sky). It is not the case that I do not place a larger value on the work...it is that I need to reach a trade off with my own conscience...to give all the works in the sale a rudimentary value...I believe the work has a higher value than I will give it over the weekend...
“Are you going to buy this or what?” the tall gaunt gentleman at the hardware store asked me yesterday, nodding at the new garden shovel I was holding in my hand...I am currently erecting a new fence in the garden. The frankness of the question put me off at first, but the urgency in his voice prompted me to act. I purchased it...I was however thinking of belting him around the head with it.
Hard sell strategies are aggressive and usually put a high amount of pressure on the customer...so much so you may want to use a spade for something other than its intended purpose. The chap who sold me the shovel is a simple example of the hard sell...the main advantage of hard selling is that it gets straight to the point. The problem with the hard sell is that when it’s done too aggressively, your attempt to help will be seen as an annoyance...which I hope my approach is not...although three emails drawing your attention to my ‘massive clearance sale’ could be too much for some.
Soft selling focuses on the relationship-building aspect of sales. You don’t put psychological pressure on potential buyers. Instead, you find passive ways to show them that you have the solutions they need...you are looking for affordable contemporary art...and I think I may have the answer.
Whatever approaches one uses, there’s one thing (it is said) that I should always do; at the end of the pitch I should ask for the order. Simply “Buy Now!”...this is a call to action to indicate the start of a working relationship. Without me asking this my approach won’t even count as “selling.”
...I will ask anyone who turns up at Primary over the weekend to leave all garden shovels at the front desk!
A big thank you to those good people who came along to my clearance sale over the weekend...I hope you are very happy with the purchases. The average price of the sales comes in at under £4.50...this I’m sure does not sound like much but as you will be aware the sale was more about getting the work into the hands of people...I think the leading bargain of the weekend was a blue multi-fold painting...this sold for £30...one very similar to this sold for over £1500 a few years back.