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What To Do With Those Unsold Works of Art?

There have been quite a few times when artists have asked me what they can do with those paintings and other pieces that have just never sold. Especially for those of us who are prolific, unsold works can really clutter up a studio. We all want to free up our spaces to make room—mentally and physically—for new work.

My honest answer is this: If you're a serious professional who is genuinely concerned about your artistic legacy, you might want to look very critically at those pieces. If they're not your best effort (we all have them!), and you feel that they might damage your reputation someday in the distant future, you should probably destroy/repurpose/recycle them. If they're still really good, just hang onto them and keep waiting for the perfect collector to discover them.

On the other hand, if you're not so concerned about that long-term legacy, you might want to consider selling those artworks at a reduced price. Here's an idea from the artists in the Seattle area: Every year, they get together for the Everett Artists' Garage Sale. It's a street fair like any other, but in this case, all the art for sale is priced to sell, as in everything under $100. The artists are also free to sell art materials and other art-related items that they no longer need or want. 

I attended the Garage Sale this past weekend, and I met one artist who says she does this every year simply because she produces so much work. At 10 AM, she had four rows of small encaustic and acrylic paintings on three walls of her booth. When I went back after noon, she was already down to two rows. Granted, she was selling everything for $10 to $30, so she probably only earned about $500. But think of how much space she cleared! And think of all the happy new owners of her work!

What do you think of a garage sale? I'd love to get your opinions. Let's connect!

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6 comments

  • It’s hard to know whether to destroy, sell at a discount, or donate. (Often what I consider a lesser painting is the next one that sells!) One thing I was thinking about is that for all of my art that’s sitting around when I die…I’ve told my family to have a stack at whatever ceremony is held and let folks take a painting home with them.

    Karen Meredith


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