Friends and Family

6 11 2013

“Does any artist ever get over the thrill of having sales?  Even those that are to wonderfully supportive family members?”

This was a question posed by a very successful fiber and mixed media artist, Karen Anne Glick http://www.karenanneglick.com/.  As an artist, this had been a struggle for me; the question was perfectly timed.

I just sold one of my copper enamel and mixed media works to a couple in my family and it felt strange to take money for the piece.  I tried to make a deal, tell them it could be my Christmas gift to them, but they insisted on paying for it, writing me a check, on the spot.  After they left my show booth, I began to consider how silly I was to feel strange about getting paid for the work I do, regardless of who buys it.

Just as artists are our neighbors, friends, and family members, our family and friends are consumers of fine art and craft. They buy lovely things for their homes from fine artisans. (Why) should it matter that the artist is a family member? I know the piece purchased by my relatives is PERFECT for their home.  Had the piece been made by someone they did not even know, they would have purchased it.

Oh . . .  Okay.

Friends and family might, in the nascent stages of a family member’s career, buy work to give that person a little boost; there is nothing wrong with that.  The artist should understand that their family is showing their belief in his or her talent.  It’s time to stop thinking that family members are buying out of charity, though, when the artist is widely collected by people who buy because the work speaks to them, because the artist produces desirable work, and not because they share Christmas card lists!

How would you feel, if you were working for someone else? You would certainly want your family to patronize your employer’s business. When you are exhibiting your art, you are the employer, so respect your customers and your product. If a family member or friend wants to buy your art, SELL IT TO THEM!  Do not offend your collectors, even ones you call Mom or Sis, by turning down their honest desire to buy one of your works.

Trust your work and your success and your clients. Listen to your Auntie Paula.

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4 responses

6 11 2013
Elaine

You have been digging into my inner thoughts Paula. I always feel funny taking money from friends and family and I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable doing it. However, I do graciously accept payment. I think the best compliment is having someone you know, like and love appreciate your talent enough to pay you for making it. Thank you for writing this article and sharing your thoughts.

6 11 2013
Paul Grecian

I totally understand your ambivalence and also agree with with your conclusion. I find myself on both sides of this dilemma; I both want to always give a discount to friends and family and not want to accept a discount when buying something from a friend.

6 11 2013
lindabillet

Seriously good, Paula. I know in my heart that this is true yet I often have a hard time with this lesson. A long time ago, my Gram said to me, “You know, you’re good at giving but you need to learn to receive.” She was right. Even now, I still muck up people’s good intentions when they are trying to give or buy. It is no wonder the Universe gets mixed signals from me. Working on it.

13 11 2013
Patti

I sold my son-in-law 2 pieces of jewelry at the FIFC show. I’ve never taken money from him before, but he insisted. He said that if I didn’t let him pay me, it was like I was giving the gift to his mom and sister. Point taken. I gave him a discount, but I let him pay. Lesson learned. Thanks for your wise post!

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