"By encouraging us to connect the bid (our money) with the sale item, bidding on items lets us fantasise about owning them – stimulating a kind of endowment effect. This is why the auction catalogue (or the item picture and description on a website) is so important. This forms part of the psychological journey the seller wants you to go on to imagine owning this item in advance, so you’ll place a higher value on it, and so pay more to make imagination reality."
- Tom Stafford, BBC Future
Every artwork, or lot, is given a dedicated page in each auction to help sell your work and give collectors all the details they need to consider bidding.
To keep promoting you and your practice beyond the auction, this page will stay live on The Auction Collective website after the auction has ended. However, the auction result won’t be visible – see example here.
The cataloguing details needed for an artwork are:
- Inscriptions (where it is signed, dated and inscribed)
- Dimensions framed (height x width x depth)
- Dimensions unframed
- Edition size and number in the edition
- Date of creation
- Estimate and reserve (for a guide on setting estimates, see here)
There is also an opportunity to include a catalogue note with the artwork about you and the work on offer. Good things to include are:
- A quote from you about the artwork on offer
- Your artist’s statement
- Highlights from your biography and CV, including:
- Notable solo and group exhibitions
- Awards and residencies
- Links to your social media and websites
All work offered on our platform is assumed to be in perfect condition, including any frames, plinths or other presentation supports, with no scuffs or damaged edges.
If the work is unframed, please do check there is no damage or unexpected marks to the edges.
If you have any issues around the condition, make sure to let the auction curator know so that they can make the buyers aware and, if necessary, include in the cataloguing.
As seen in our Code of Conduct, full transparency is crucial and avoids any disputes when the work is sold.
If applicable to the artwork, we always recommend that works are offered framed.
This is for four reasons:
- In-Person Presentation – Even just a simple artist-made batten frame adds gravitas to an artwork and helps present it as an object of fine art.
- Digital presentation – Whatever the type of auction, art collectors will always engage with the artwork online through the website. Presenting a framed image of the artwork helps collectors see the work as a fine art object rather than a digital image. Some great examples of this in previous auctions are Olly Fathers, and Henry Woolway.
- Enjoy today - If framed well, works that are ready to take home and hang immediately are more attractive to collectors.
- Protection – A frame does more than help present an artwork, it also helps protect an artwork when being handled in an exhibition install or in post-sale shipping.
Photographing your artwork well is crucial to its success in the auction. Where possible hang your work and photograph it in bright, natural daylight. It is best to take photographs of the work:
- Front on - including the entire artwork and, if possible, cut out to white. Online editing tools such as Canva can be useful for this.
- Framed and in situ - this is very useful for scale and connecting the artwork to your studio.
- From an angle.
- Close up details.
If some colour discrepancies exist between the photo and the artwork, make sure this is noted in the cataloguing. For example: The reflective surface of the sculpture is not fully captured in this image. The bronze is more polished and shinier than the image suggests.
Certificates & Notes
Collectors like to have a certificate of authenticity with their artwork, this is essential if the work is produced in an edition.
The certificate of authenticity should include the cataloguing details and your ‘signature of approval’. You can create your own, or you can use a company like Tagsmart for this.
When creating a certificate, we recommend also including a personal note to the buyer which can simply have your contact details, a thank you message or more detailed notes on the artwork itself.
Estimate & Reserve
Every artwork needs to have an estimate (which is the same as a guide price). Most artworks also have a reserve - this is the lowest amount that you are happy for it to be sold for.
Setting the correct estimate and an attractive reserve is crucial to a successful sale of an artwork. There is a method behind this and a full guide on setting estimates and reserves for work in auction can be found here.
In the lead up to the auction there will be plenty of opportunity to promote your work and involvement in the auction.
Collectors love to see behind the scenes, it is a nice opportunity to show how you make the work, the materials you use and the multiple processes that can be involved. So do share with us, or the auction organisers, any photographs or videos of your work in progress, your studio, you at work, your processes or materials. We can promote them across our socials, through editorials and newsletters to tell the story of you and your work.
To ensure a smooth post-sale experience for both buyers and sellers, it is important to know all shipping information at the very start of the auction process, including:
- Collection address
- Collection contact details (email and phone)
- Artwork weight and framed dimensions
- Whether you are happy to give a studio tour to a buyer who wants to collect
This will allow us to quickly generate a shipping quote for potential buyers and so speed up the post-sale process.
If The Auction Collective are processing the payments, you will need to upload a colour copy of your photo ID (either driving license or passport) to your Auction Collective account, along with your bank details.
This is part of our know your client (KYC) due diligence checks for anti-money laundering.
For more auction advice and the latest lessons learnt from our sellers running auctions, join our monthly 'Auction Insights' newsletter.