Many years ago, I used to own a frame shop. I primarily did custom framing, but also framed some art to sell in the shop.
I ordered a print of the above art and decided to treat it like an oil painting. I framed it with a linen liner and a wide, dark cherry molding. I used non-glare glass on it because it makes simple prints look more impressive.
I put a $75 price tag on it and hung it on the wall.
A week later, one of my better customers came in to pick up her order. As I was wrapping it, she noticed the still life and commented on how nice it was. “Oh, that would be perfect in my dining room, but I can’t spend any more money on framing for a while,” she said. “My husband will have a fit.”
“Well, we can’t have that,” I said.
She went back to take a closer look at it.
“I’d love to have this for my dinner party this weekend,” she said.
“Why don’t you rent it for a month?” I asked, making all of this up as I go along.
“Sure. How about ten dollars a month? I’ll apply whatever you pay towards the purchase price if you want to buy it later.”
She thought that was a fine idea. She gave me the money and took the print home.
A few weeks later, she returned the print.
“Did you decide you didn’t like it?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I love it, but I just had my dining room chairs upholstered and the peaches in the print don’t match the peach fabric on the chairs.”
Let me pause here and clarify what is commonly thought to be a law of retail sales: The customer is always right. They seldom are but business owners pretend that they are because they need the sale.
I needed the sale, so I asked, “How about if I change the color?”
“You can do that?”
“Sure,” I told her, having no idea how I could accomplish it.
She left the art and a sample of the fabric. The next day, I went to an art supply store and bought some oil pastel crayons. Whispering a prayer for forgiveness, I did a respectable job of coloring the peaches to match her stupid seat cushions. I sprayed the print with a matte spray to mask the changes, framed it, and called my customer.
She was delighted. I collected the money from her and sent her on her way. It took about a month but I finally had the full retail price.
Mercifully, I don’t work in retail any more. But I did learn something invaluable from that experience.
If I see a piece of art that I like, I don’t ask the artist if he or she could make another one just like the one on display, but make it two inches taller, or change the shade of red, or any other insulting request. I certainly don’t ask them if they could come down a little on the price.
They have spent months in their studios to create the art to sell at shows and galleries. It is not necessarily the type of art they want to make; it is what they think will sell.
If I can, I pay the asking price and compliment them on their work. If I can’t afford it, I still compliment them.