Studio Sale Auctions are a rare opportunity for buyers to collect your work at unusually low prices, and an opportunity for you to clear your studio to make room for new work.
To help you make the most of your sale, we have put together these top tips learnt from our previous Studio Sale Auction experience and feedback from participating artists.
Price to sell
A defining element of a Studio Sale Auction is that artworks are priced to sell, to help clear your studio. This means setting starting bids (reserves) unusually low or even with no minimum at all.
Not only does this ensure that all artworks will sell and find new homes, but you also get a bigger audience of potential buyers signing up for the auction.
It is worth noting two things in particular about pricing:
- Starting bid vs Estimate – Each artwork has a starting bid (reserve) and an estimate. Whilst the starting bid is the minimum price you are happy to accept for the artwork, you are also able to publish an estimate which reflects the true value of the piece. This protects your gallery pricing and market value.
- No published results – Sold or unsold, the final price is never published. When the auction ends only the estimate remains online displaying the true market value of your artwork. So only you and the very lucky buyer will know the final price.
For more theory on auction pricing, read What Sells Well at Auction.
"The ability to have low starting bids and 'non-visible' reserves meant that I felt more comfortable putting works out there below the gallery price. Importantly for me, the sold price is not listed publicly, so I don't have to worry about previous clients or galleries questioning the sale of works."
- Studio Sale Artist, July 2022
A flexible pricing structure
You don’t need to have a consistent pricing structure with a Studio Sale Auction. Instead, you can adapt your reserves according to individual pieces.
For instance, if you have a series of much older preparatory works on paper which you are keen to clear from your archive, these could be given extremely low reserve. In comparison, a more recent work on canvas could have a higher reserve, closer to the gallery wall price.
- Sketches on paper - No reserve (i.e. starting at £10)
- Works that have previously received a lot of exposure (online platforms, exhibitions, newsletters, socials) - Reserves 75% below gallery price
- More recent works on canvas or framed pieces - Reserves 50% below gallery price
"In hindsight maybe it might have been better to include some unframed works or smaller works and then I could have lowered my prices a little more. I learnt a lot from doing this and would love to work with you again, next time I think I’d try some works on paper."
- Studio Sale Artist, 2022.
Limit the choice
If you have several artworks which are very similar, just choose one for the auction. This creates a sense of scarcity (see What sells well at auction) and reduces viewer fatigue.
It also concentrates multiple bidders onto one work which will help it achieve a higher result. After the auction, you can contact the underbidders to offer them the similar works at the same final price or their bid value.
We would recommend including between 4 and 16 works (see below) in a Studio Sale Auction.
Medium and format
If you are able, include a range of mediums or sizes to appeal to a wider audience of buyers.
The overall look
It sounds trivial, but the artworks are listed in lines of four on the auction page. Curating the auction into groups of four that complement each other can help add gravitas and strength to the auction page.
Whilst the studio sales are a great opportunity to clear your studio of old works, the cataloguing must still be accurate and clear. If there is an issue with the condition of the work, it is important that this is noted on the artwork page. For example:
Please note: Slight damage to lower left corner. For more information and images, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The works do not have to be framed, but you must be clear about whether the work is framed or unframed - especially if the images you are using show it framed but it is sold without.
Good cataloguing can also be an effective tool in selling your work, particularly in an online only auction. Further details on cataloguing can be found here: How to Prepare Your Artwork for Auction
For a successful auction, promotion is key. We want to get as many people as possible signing up and competing for your work. We have a strong audience of buyers and will market your auction to them but they can’t be relied on alone – promotion is a combined effort between The Auction Collective and the artist.
So please do share as much content as possible with us to help promote you (such as studio shots, videos, headshots etc.) in return we will provide you with a Comms Pack to help spread the word in the most effective way possible.
"Overall the experience and promotion was great - was really interesting to see who registered as bidders on my art especially. My only thoughts are that I needed to do much more to promote my own sale and direct people to the page.”
- Studio Sale Artist, 2022.
For more auction advice and the latest lessons learnt from our sellers running auctions, join our monthly 'Auction Insights' newsletter.