This is a post for all of the comfortable artists out there and even some of the less well off artists who are reluctant to donate work to charitable causes. I know so many people who are sitting on decades of artwork that is rotting away in their studios or basements.
The most common argument against donating art is "My collectors will be outraged if I sell work below what they paid for it."
Unless you have signed contracts with mainstream galleries or other representatives that bar you from donating your art without their permission, you are deluding yourself. Your collectors probably won't give a rat's *ss if you donate works to a charity. Especially, if you take the following into consideration:
Donate older work. Everyone gets this. The understanding is that you have moved on and your work has matured. Donate it.
Donate work you don't like that much. Same. People get it. Not everything is a masterpiece and even Picasso had bad days. Just make sure it is a respectable offering. Donating junk is insulting to everybody.
Donate smaller work. I used to be an art consultant and we hardly ever sold anything smaller than a 20x24". I KNOW that many of you have a surplus of small work. Small work is likely to wind up in a powder room, possibly a hallway, on a cluttered shelf, or stored in a closet somewhere (if you are lucky). Small pieces are glorified knick knacks. Donate them.
If you don't find good homes for your art, your heirs will. (or won't) I'm a middle-aged artist who is struggling to survive pandemics, civil unrest, and late-stage capitalism. I don't want my kids to have to liquidate or throw out a giant hoard of art and art supplies after my death. Manage your inventory by giving away what you don't want your heirs to throw away. Do some good. I suggest donating to charitable fundraisers.
If you are a successful artist who sells almost everything you make, you can still be philanthropic without upsetting your market. Have a dedicated line of quick and easy minor art work for charitable giving and gifts.
I consider myself semi-pro and unfortunately, market value is not an issue for me. My signature pieces take a very long time to make. That means, I am very reluctant to give those away, so I make smaller, quick pieces for that. I also tend to use a lot of leftover or second-hand materials in donation works.
That said, you still want to donate respectable work. Art donations are usually displayed in person or on-line before and during fundraisers. You don't want to donate something terrible, damaged, or unfinished with your name attached to it. Many charity auctions have donors who swoop in and buy unbid lots at the last moment, but that isn't always the case. If you donate something awful, and it's goes unsold or the charity can't use it, then you aren't doing anybody any good.
I'd love to hear your comments on artists and charitable giving especially if you have more tips!
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