Several few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Jason Horejs entitled, “What Should an Artist do with a Lifetime of Unsold Artwork?” The article focused on a question posed by a reader on Jason Horejs’s site, who had reached the age of ninety, and had produced a vast collection of artwork during their career as an artist and had never mastered the art of marketing, but nonetheless had showed their artwork in various shows and competitions throughout their lifetime. Despite this, the artist was left wondering what to do with the artwork that hadn’t sold, and felt that their shyness had played a part in keeping them from selling more artwork. Jason Horejs opened up the question for discussion on his blog post, by asking readers to respond to this reader’s question about how to dispose of excess, unsold artwork, whether the artist was living or not. The answers to this question varied from hosting a super art sale, donating the work to a charitable cause, or selling the artwork to auction houses and art galleries thereafter.
Although I hope to have many more years to live, I am considering this question myself, “What should I do with my unsold artwork?” This question has been taking an added significance since I am rapidly running out of space in my apartment to store my paintings and drawings, despite occasional sales, art commissions and donations over the years. I am new to the world of art entrepreneurship, and still have a long way to go in refining my marketing and sales techniques; however, I have been painting and drawing for several years. In fact, I have been drawing and painting since I was nine years old, when I took my first painting class, and I have been intentionally focused on selling and marketing my artwork for about a year. Over time my stash of unsold artwork has continued to accumulate.
In addition, after attempting to organize my artwork this past week, by wrapping them in wax paper and bubble wrap, I am getting an idea of how much work it will be to find places to put my artwork. Now that I have a clearer picture of how long this organization process will take, I’m also realizing that I do not want this task to consume all of my time. I also don’t want to start renting a storage space to store the art yet, although it may come to that at some point. Another problem is that I am less inclined to give my artwork away to friends/family because I am making the switch from creating art as a hobby to a small business, and I feel it’s unfair to offer my artwork for free to some and charge for it from others.
In the past, I have given my artwork to others as gifts, and some of it has been trashed as a last result when I could not think of a way to salvage the painting. Other times, I have recycled canvases by sanding them and re-applying gesso to start a new painting. Sometimes I can get a really great painting out of the recycled canvases. Occasionally, my artwork has been sold to collectors and fans of my artwork. I’m grateful for each and every sale. On the other hand, I’d like to consider what some of my options might be for dispensing with my artwork. Some ideas that come to mind are: 1.) listing places in my neighborhood and surrounding areas, where my artwork can be exhibited such as art galleries, retail stores, and coffee shops, signing up for more art contests,, decorating my home and switching out the artwork periodically, and storing my best work and researching additional strategies to sell them online or in books about art business.
Here’s what some other people had to say about the subject of disposing of excess, unsold artwork: Gallery owner of Xandu Art Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona: Jason Horejs states that: “It’s never too late” to learn how to market your artwork, on his blog www.reddotblog.com, Artist: Lori McNee suggests: Evaluate the unsold painting to see if you can make it better, on her website www.finearttips.com, and Teaching Artist: Christine Martell offers: Use old artwork to make new work by collaging drawings and paintings or making sculpture out of it, on her website http://christinemartell.com/about-christine-martell/. What about you reader? Do you have any additional thoughts on this subject? I would love to hear your suggestions, as I work through this long-term project of organizing my art studio and my unsold artwork.