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JoyJoyJoy
12-10-2003, 08:08 AM
OK... I announced, several months ago, that I am selling on eBay and gave my eBay seller name to my four siblings. Since then, I have gotten several emails from my brothers and sister strongly... VERY STRONGLY... hinting that he/she would like a painting given to them. Free, of course.

A little background: I am oldest child, age 50, painted since age 5. Parents and siblings are all business people, not creatives. My siblings are all highly educated (2 phd's), make 6 figures, have huge houses (some a vacation house too), and "frugal" is a kind word (my sister once sent me a letter written on a folded/stamped piece of brown paper bag). I, on the other hand, have always been that classic "artsy-fartsy," more concerned with creating than money... so have small house, second hand furniture, but lots of art supplies and books.

Yesterday, I got an email from my sister with that "hint" for free paintings. She is buying a "villa" and needs artwork for her walls. Now, I have only given two paintings to my mom (in the past), who is low-income and supportive of my work, but I do not feel comfortable giving work away to siblings who have never offered to buy any artwork from me. I don't know how to nicely respond... so am asking... how would you answer such an email? How do you handle relatives who hint like this? Am I making too much of this?

Please, give me advice... and share your stories.

Thanks, Nance

WC administrators: Please leave this posted in Internet Sales. I know the artists there and respect their opinions. Thanks.

prtpix
12-10-2003, 08:17 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=145861
Above is a thread that I high jacked and started talking about this very subject.
If you scroll down to the middle of the first page. You will see where I jump in about this same type of thing.

I have this same problem with my sister who is a lavish spender in every area under the sun. But, Has never ever offered to buy or pay for one of my paintings. She just insists that she has to have them and expects me to give them to her because she is my sister.

The group really gave me some good advice on how to deal with her.
I hope it helps you too.

wayfarer
12-10-2003, 08:18 AM
Been there. There's always been a bit of a rivalry between all of us girls in my family. (I have 4 sisters, no brothers.) I gave one sister a painting as a gift and have since given one to each of them. Had to. These were small paintings though, matted but not framed.

I am actually doing a commission for my sister now for her mother-in-law. She did offer to pay my supplies at first. When I talked to her about it, I came right out and said what I charge for a painting the size she was asking for and said that I'd give it to her at half-price. Then it was fine. (I do have to admit that I was just the tiniest bit ruffled when she responded that that's what she planned on spending as if getting a commissioned painting for the price she was paying was market value. Gez.)

Somewhere, someplace I did read that giving family a substantial discount was the way to handle these "sales". As I see it, as a semi-professional artist, I have respect for what I'm doing. And I have to carry myself as an artist to be respected as one by others. That means charging for my time.

Chris

JoyJoyJoy
12-10-2003, 08:44 AM
Mariann... Thanks for that forum link. One thing that Carly said to you, in that forum, really stands out for me, "If your sister were really a generous soul, you wouldn't have to tell her a price, she'd simply leave the money on the table." Let me just say, delicately, that the phase "generous soul" does not pop into my mind when thinking of each of my siblings... hahaha!

Chris... So, would you suggest that I email back with an offer of a "family discount"? That is something I have thought about, but, considering they want it free, to offer a discount on "free" just tickles me as a funny idea. Just joshing... I understand your suggestion and will give it some serious thought.

Your "in-law" story reminded me of when my last Mother-In-Law, who was (is) literally a millionaire, gushed over one really good painting of mine. I told her she could have it for $800, and she walked away. Never mentioned again.

Is this just a common problem of relatives de-valuing our work, even when we do value it? Or, maybe the problem is compounded by relatives with money and no "generous soul." Oh, gosh... I better go pour myself another cup of decaf and put on my red hat.

Nance

surreal
12-10-2003, 09:08 AM
I haven't had my morning coffee yet so take with a few grains of salt...........

I feel that when family members expect artwork to be given to them free of charge, that they are lacking in a cultural education of sorts; they seem to think that making art is a frivolous activity that they have absolutely no respect for.

I am sorry to hear of the predicament you describe, Nance!!!

Your siblings have no clue that what you do is work and probably feel that your artwork is an activity you engage in only for personal pleasure.

They need a course or 2 in Art Appreciation. ;)

*I hope I was not too harsh with your relatives.*;)
:o

jolie
12-10-2003, 09:11 AM
I would write something like this:

"Hi sis,

Congrats on your new villa! I bet it's gorgeous and I can't wait to see it. Can you send me a picture of it?

I have the perfect little painting for a housewarming gift...you'll love it! I'd consider it quite an honor to decorate the whole place with my work and I'm so glad you like my stuff enough to want lots of it. I don't feel comfortable charging family full price, so I'll give you 20% off on anything you choose. When do you want to come and look at what I currently have?"

I think this approach is direct, yet still a win-win situation. You can give her a small painting that you don't mind parting with (only if you want to), make it clear that your time is worth money, but that you value family and want to give her a bit of a break. If you don't give her paintings she'll have to go out and buy them anyway, so getting a discount from you is still getting the bargain she's looking for.

If she still doesn't get it, I see nothing wrong with telling her straight out that your time is worth money and every hour you spend painting something to give to her is an hour spent away from earning your livelihood. As a matter of fact, giving away your work costs you both in earnings and materials, so in effect you would be paying her to take your paintings. Doesn't sound like a very good deal to me and I think most reasonable people will understand that once you make it clear to them.

Good luck,
Jolie

kjsspot
12-10-2003, 09:19 AM
Originally posted by JoyJoyJoy
Yesterday, I got an email from my sister with that "hint" for free paintings. She is buying a "villa" and needs artwork for her walls. ... I don't know how to nicely respond... so am asking... how would you answer such an email? How do you handle relatives who hint like this?

For me, this one is easy! You simply play dense. Do not, in any way shape or form, let on that you even recognize any sort of hint being given.

"Kewl! Yeah, I'd be more than happy to sell you some artwork. Are you thinking about a commission where I would design something specifically for you? Or do you just want me to notify you when I list something that would look good in your new home?"

Then if they hedge and say something about family getting special favors or whatever simply say that you'd be glad to throw in free shipping since they are family. Or perhaps a 10% discount for family.

If they actually mention Free it's your cue to act mortally wounded. "Free??? Gosh, I thought you liked my work? (insert sad face here) I'm sorry, but I can't pay my rent (or whatever) if I don't sell my work. Perhaps we can work out a trade? And ask for whatever it is they do. If they are Doctors, then work out an equivilant amount in free medical. Or whatever. Have them paint your house. Fix your toilet. Anything that would be of similar value. But ONLY as a last resort.

prtpix
12-10-2003, 09:48 AM
I told her she could have it for $800, and she walked away. Never mentioned again.

I consider that in awfull insult.

Maybe that hits the nail on the head right there.

JoyJoyJoy
12-10-2003, 09:56 AM
Oh... big THANKS to everyone so promptly answering this morning. You have given me great ideas, encouragement, and some laughs!

Nina... No, you were not harsh on my relative, but very insightful. Like I mentioned, I grew up in a house of business people... which meant that my art (especially since I am female) was seen as a nice hobby, not respected (ie: thrown away), and given no value (ie: forced to go to university, rather than art school, "What kind of a man are you going to meet at art school?"). Even though I have made my living for 30 years as an artist, my family's early attitudes linger on.

(Note to self: send Art Appreciation book to siblings for Christmas)

Jolie... I just laughed myself silly reading your suggested letter to my sister. Not laughing at your suggestion, for it is a great letter, and I think I might use it word for word... but giggled just thinking of how insulted my sister would be (see above note to Nina).

KJO... Dense? The game I have been playing so far. Dense, denser, densest. Actually thought of replying to sis's latest email with the "dense" suggestion that she check the auctions of (insert favorite WC ebay artists names here) for great paintings. Thinking that maybe, if she won't pay for mine, some artist friend might benefit. BTW, thanks for the "FREE" conversation, complete with "insert sad face here"... you should do stand-up comedy!

Nance

SabZero
12-10-2003, 10:09 AM
I have always drawn a very strong line between money and friends/family. The two just don't mix.

Now all of my family is about the same economic level, and I don't produce much art (or make money of it yet). I have offered one painting to my sister (to encourage her own creativty), and I guess I will do one for my mother for christmas.

But when I will be doing bigger more developed things, I plan to sell some, and I wouldn't even give a "family discount" LOL - like I said, a strong line between money and family.

You have to make them understand that your business, no, your living, is making art. Say that a painting must be paid for and maybe suggest something other than cash in return. For example, free accounting or law advice (for two years at least, be bold).

I really don't like "parasitic" family. My husband has a sister like that. She actually made more money last year than we both (not counting his company), and still was trying to eat here for free.

Ah well, good luck, and be strong! :cat:

Blue Cc
12-10-2003, 10:59 AM
For me it was a turning point when my mother
wanted to buy one of my paintings, she saw
it for sale. She did not want someone else to
buy the painting.
You might want to invite your family to one
of your gallery shows or something. It can
make a big difference, when they see you
as a professional, not just family and also talk
about family discount.
Hope this helps.

tonigart
12-10-2003, 11:07 AM
Hi Nance,
I am sorry about these kind of relatives, it is toughie, thankfully I can't relate, my brothers are great but none have "bought" artwork from me either!

I like what Jolie suggested. You are obviously an accomplished artist and have worked hard and for them to expect free work is hurtful.

Perhaps you can give them small works for gifts, Christmas etc. If they want something larger tell them that piece is very expensive and you are counting on the revenue from that sale to buy a new printer, or pay for advertising, something business related rather than say pay for the morgage.

It is just best not to go there and give them anything (unless it is a gift), you will be opening a can of worms. I can hear..."Well you gave Susie that why can't I have one too, blah, blah, blah. I think if you offer them a "discount" and you are still happy about the sale price, that is ok.

By not giving in and apeasing their disrespect for the artist you are you will feel much better about yourself and perhaps they will take you more seriously as the businessperson/artist you have worked so hard to be!

Good luck Nance! It makes Christmas tough and it shouldn't be.

Take care,
Toni

TeAnne
12-10-2003, 11:15 AM
Gee, I must be one of the lucky ones. My own daughter baught two paintings off me at an exhibition I had. I felt terrible selling them to her but she said "Mum" and gave me the evil eyebrow!. She is such a sweet giving/caring girl and I'm proud of her. :D I ended up giving her a painting for xmas that year :D

Salairawns
12-10-2003, 12:10 PM
Everyone's given great advice. I'll know what to do if this should happen in our family.
After thought, I wanted to add, don't make any payment plans with your family if you can avoid it; they rarely work. They should pay up front for what they can afford. If it means buying one painting at a time, then so be it.
This may not be an issue in some families. But if you know your relatives tend to go lax on payments, or they like to play the 'family' card, it'll hurt later when you have to keep reminding them to pay.
Celena

jocelynsart
12-10-2003, 12:19 PM
Hi Joyjoyjoy: This is just my opinion, based on how I think and feel about things. My family would never ask or expect anythign from me for free, which also creates a desire, added to what is already there, to give to them. That is probably the difference right there. However, I also don't personally like charging close friends or family unless they are buying it in lieu of buying something else as a gift for someone else other than themselves. They do enough for me out of love and I don't need to have them as customers.
It seems very rude to me for your family to Expect and ask for free artwork. Especially if they are more than able to afford it. You'd think they would want to support a sister by asking to purchase, then you may feel inclined to give or give for a reduced price. However, in your case, the only time I would be giving them a painting is as a gift of my choice, if you give gifts at Bdays, etc. I would simply say that this is yoru living and you cannot give away your inventory.
I'd set my boundaries early and quick. It is hard but it establishes where you stand right away. If it creates hard feeligns, explaining pleasantly may help. If they still are bitter or non understanding, then there is not alot you can do about their feelings. Just stand up for yourself.
Good luck. Family can be the toughest thing in the world to deal with.
Joss

jolie
12-10-2003, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by JoyJoyJoy
Jolie... I just laughed myself silly reading your suggested letter to my sister. Not laughing at your suggestion, for it is a great letter, and I think I might use it word for word... but giggled just thinking of how insulted my sister would be (see above note to Nina).

I suppose we all have relatives, who though we love them dearly, can be very trying! Could you tell I used to be in sales from that letter? Approach: soften them up by being interested in something they love or are excited about. Be excited by how much value they place on your product (whether that's the actual message they sent or not), offer them something so they feel like they got a bargain and were great negotiators, then go in for the close! LOL

When I read about people that have family who don't appreciate the value of their art, my first thought is, "that's their (the family member, not the artist) problem". Ultimately, there is nothing you can do about it. You can communicate clearly and if it is not an eye opening experience, so what? YOU still know the value of your art. YOU know it is a legitimate pursuit and its their loss if they miss out because they aren't willing to pay for what you have worked your whole life to earn.

I have to admit that I don't understand the value of spending tons of money collecting beanie babies, learning how to speak Latin, or a zillion other things. That doesn't mean they aren't valid pursuits to someone. My point is that we all have different priorities in life. Not understanding someone else's, or in this case, your sister not really comprehending the value in your chosen profession doesn't make them less valid. I suppose we just have to accept that people place different value on things and have the confidence in our art to be OK with that and strong enought to assert it when necessary.

Jolie

timelady
12-10-2003, 01:58 PM
Why not something like - feel free to place a bid? You did say they saw things on eBay, right? Mention that eBay is the best way to get some of your work for a great price, so they're very welcome to bid. And they can sign up for Paypal too, to make the whole process easier. :)

My brother is the only person I've ever given a painting to - and it was one that I painted from photos of his honeymoon in the mountains. Nothing he'd requested or anything. My parents (actually, my mom) snuck downstairs at the gallery opening I had her at and bought two pictures from teh gallery owner. I knew nothing except that two red dots had appeared! Suspiciously on the paintings she'd liked while hanging. ;) She also got a Paypal account and bids on eBay - so i can't stop her! haha! Not so often anymore, she preferred my less abstract work.

Tina.

ElizaLeahy
12-10-2003, 04:58 PM
There are Christmas and birthdays to give gifts to your family if that is what you want and you know that they want some of your work.

But if they are being annoying and wanting more then you can care - or afford - to give why not sit them down and explain that your art is your work. Compair it to what they do for a living and how they would feel giving hours of their normally paid work away for nothing?

I had a situation recently where a friend who needed my help in terms of time was coming around for hours (and hours and hours) and wanting me to sit with her, just sit on the lounge, and let her talk. I did as much as possible, but I do have "work" to do. She thought that painting was a "hobby" and that I was being very rude insisting that I have "fun" in front of her.

Zoe finally explained to her that I had to work 8 hours a day, and that if I didn't do it during the day I had to make up for it at night. Since then she has realised it really is a job from which I make my living and she hasn't asked me to "spend" so much of my time with her.

The same with your sister. She probably doesn't realise the value of what you do in monitary terms. Explain the cost - not just of time and materials but also in lost potential income for the cost of the painting.

On the other hand, I'd love to give paintings to all my relatives for Christmas, it would sold my delemar of "what to buy them". But their walls are already as full as they can be with my stuff!

arlene
12-11-2003, 12:17 AM
very simple. I would be direct and tell her you'd be happy to sell it to her for $XXX dollars which is a discount off the gallery price.

i give family 40% off my full retail. Unless i did a gift just for them.

If she counters that she shouldn't have to pay, look her in the eye and ask if she'd give you whatever it is she sells for free..

for my family it's insurance, and when I buy a policy from them, i pay like anyone else...the only difference? i get back part of their commission.

arlene
12-11-2003, 12:37 AM
as to giving your sister a small painting as a gift, before you do that stop.

what would you expect to pay to for a housewarming gift for your sister? would you even buy one?

now assuming you would, do any of your paintings meet that price you'd be willing to pay? or are they more then that?

if they are, don't offer...always figure out your costs first.

for example when my sister moved into her last house, she got from me two rose paper sculptures (what I used to do)

I was selling them at the time for around $75 framed and i figured my wholesale cost on them to be $45-$50. I had planned on spending $100 on a present for her so when she expressed interest in my flowers, that's what she got.

If she had expressed interest in something alot more money, then I probably would have gotten her another housewarming gift and instead offered her the more expensive piece at my 40% discount.

Nance i'd be especially galled since you do work slowly and are limited in the amount of time you're able to paint. You need to maximize your painting time to make the best profit you can.

ArtMarkie
12-11-2003, 12:18 PM
Hi there,

Does your sister plan to have parties in her villa?
With your artwork on view for all her guests?
Who might become customers for your art?
I might suggest you consider your art a "loan".

gsb55
12-11-2003, 01:41 PM
However you decide to handle your siblings, don't feel guilty. Only YOU can decide to give a gift. Asking for a free painting, no matter who is doing the asking, is no different from getting mugged by a stranger. If you were in their home and admired a painting on the wall (one they bought) you would'nt say "I love that painting, can I have it?"

arlene
12-11-2003, 05:26 PM
Originally posted by ArtMarkie
Hi there,

Does your sister plan to have parties in her villa?
With your artwork on view for all her guests?
Who might become customers for your art?
I might suggest you consider your art a "loan".

it usually doesn't happen. My sister entertains some of the biggest names in business and industry, she's shown my work to them...haven't heard a word from them.

JoyJoyJoy
12-11-2003, 08:51 PM
Thank you to each and all who responded in this forum. Handling these emotionally charged issues... the value of our work and the respect of family... is difficult for me. I do react strongly to both these problems, due to both the natural intensity of my personality and to a long, messy family history (that I have implied as politely as possible). Your sharing, comments, and practical suggestions have helped me tremendously in sorting this out in my head, so I can handle the situation in a more relaxed, rational manner.

In discussing your comments with my husband, he reminded me gently (bad memory here) that even he and my best friend bought artwork from me this year.... neither asking for a freebie or accepting a "family and friend discount" when I offered it. Those who understand us, love us, and value our work pay freely, even if just as a sign of loving support.

I will answer my sister's email in a friendly, but professional manner.... very much like Jolie wrote out for me, and also considering the other practical advice given by others. I have decided not to go into all the reasons as to why my work and time are valuable... unless I am asked directly. But, my sister will not ask and would not understand what I explained anyway.

My apprehension about starting this forum (being emotionally charged for me) was, of course, unfounded. Again, you, the members of Wetcanvas, have answered with great compassion and comraderie.

Gratefully, Nance

prtpix
12-11-2003, 09:59 PM
can I have it?"

Oh my gosh.
that is my sister for sure.

About so much stuff you would not beleive.
I want it. Let me have it.
She even asked for my Golden Retriever when we first brought her home.
I really think she thought she could convince us to give the dog to her. She has since bought her own Golden and instead of calling her the very same name I call my dog. She changed the first letter and now we have Sandy and Mandy.

This week I made 2 star shaped cardboard armatures and poked 100 miniature lights in each of them for hanging as light decorations for my windows for Christmas. It was not the easiest project for me and my fingers really hurt from doing the 2 I did.

My sister dropped in on me yesterday and raved about them and asked me to make her one.

Thanks to the wonderful advise I had been given here.
I had the nerve to be honest with her and tell her that my fingers hurt from making the 2 that were in my windows.

She took it well. Thank Goodness.

don't get me wrong, I really love my sister.
I guess it is still that thing that yoiu have when you are kids when your younger sibling always has to have what you have.
I guess I should consider it a compliment. But, It gets a little old.

I just don't think that people realize what we put into our art projects no matter how easy they may look to do.

Sumafra
12-11-2003, 10:26 PM
I like the idea of treating the matter like a business decision and calling your paintings 'inventory'. As business people, they should be able to understand the language of business. You might say that you have no inventory at the moment that you would feel comfortable giving away, but that you may be prepared to give her a discount on certain pieces, once you know which ones she is interested in. I would not give her a discount on each one, but only on older work. Fresh inventory should not be discounted.

Anyway, good luck!! Let us know how it turns out.

Jangogh
12-12-2003, 02:26 AM
You could always just say you need to sell the original for the asking price, but will let them use the digital file to go and have a print made and let them do the matting and framing.

This way you can still sell the original to a legitimate buyer and maybe your siblings learn a little about the cost of art.

Only you know how your family would react to this. But maybe it is an option.

surreal
12-13-2003, 12:59 PM
Excluding my immediate family, my other family members (except for a few cousins) do not like my work, although they seem to appreciate the artistic value of it!

One cousin-in-law has purchased a couple of pieces of mine on ebay.

I have given gifts of art to family members who I love very much and who love my work; these are people who would never ask for my art free of charge.

:)

cjorgensen
10-17-2009, 08:58 PM
Thank you so much for this thread. I feel so selfish when I want to tell family members, "No, I am not giving it away for free when it costs me to make it and I am depending on this for income." Of course, I cannot say those words. But they don't feel any selfishness or shame (or RUDENESS) when they ask me to GIVE it to them. How is it really any different from them just showing up and saying, "Wow, I'd really like a couple of hundred dollars . . . as a gift. So just give it to me . . . because I'm your sister."

Dallen
10-18-2009, 10:21 PM
Simply say ""Sorry, I can't give away the inventory, No business can."
or

Give her a call, and thank her for her interest in the painting. I would laugh amiably, and I would politely tell her that you'de love to be able to give it to her, BUT, your agent (or accountant) would never allow such a thing. Mention that since you have taken the next step in your career as an artist, professionalism demands that you simply must conform to basic good business practices.

Then offer to sell her the painting at a "Special Collector's Discount" of 10% off retail. Then, comment that you are offering the painting to her at such a good price, that it won't even make a dent in her decorating budget, and she will enjoy it for years.

So what if you don't have an agent or accountant, she doesn't need to know that, neither does anyone else in your family.

or

You could offer to swap it for X dollars PLUS X hours of her professional services, if you have any use for them. Maybe THAT would get het attention.

Dallen
10-18-2009, 10:28 PM
You could always just say you need to sell the original for the asking price, but will let them use the digital file to go and have a print made and let them do the matting and framing.

This way you can still sell the original to a legitimate buyer and maybe your siblings learn a little about the cost of art.

Only you know how your family would react to this. But maybe it is an option.

That is an Outrageeous "solution". They have no right to expect anything!!! and allowing these mooches to make a copy of an artist's painting for free is ridiculous, it screws the artist, it screws the buyer of the original, and it lets the mooch still feel OK about mooching. This is a loose, loose for everyone except the parasite.

Dallen
10-18-2009, 10:30 PM
I like the idea of treating the matter like a business decision and calling your paintings 'inventory'. As business people, they should be able to understand the language of business. You might say that you have no inventory at the moment that you would feel comfortable giving away, but that you may be prepared to give her a discount on certain pieces, once you know which ones she is interested in. I would not give her a discount on each one, but only on older work. Fresh inventory should not be discounted.

Anyway, good luck!! Let us know how it turns out.
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: GREAT adviice!

chiendent
10-19-2009, 04:55 AM
I haven't had my morning coffee yet so take with a few grains of salt...........

I feel that when family members expect artwork to be given to them free of charge, that they are lacking in a cultural education of sorts; they seem to think that making art is a frivolous activity that they have absolutely no respect for.

:o
It is exactly that : the same for friends who expects a price cut. Never Never give a painting, it is like depreciating yourself and art! :heart: