(This is part 2 of a two-part post discussing the selling of art in your auction fundraiser.)
Last week I talked about why you silent auction donation ideas should avoid selling traditional art in your live auction fundraiser. I gave tips for selling art, and I’m adding to it this week with three additional ideas.
Keep art politically “neutral.”
In 2009 at a more liberal school auction, I sold a signed print of Frank Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE poster for $2500. It was so popular, I was able to sell it three times, earning the school $7500.
Just 30 days prior to that auction, I worked at a conservative school fundraiser. An item had been — the charity auction chair believed — intentionally damaged because it had President Obama’s image on it.
This brings home the challenge of politically-themed art. There’s a chance that at least 50% of your audience will immediately dislike it. You’ve got to know your crowd.
Suggest a signed and numbered print.
If you aren’t getting an original piece of art (and you usually won’t), it helps to have the piece signed and numbered. “It’s 14 of 100 prints,” sounds better than, “It’s a print.”
I doubt the HOPE poster of President Obama would have brought the value it did had it merely been a poster and not signed by the artist.
Think twice before framing. Framing is good for art, but the challenge is that framing is so expensive. An additional $300 of framing might never be recovered in the sale of the item. Although I prefer selling framed pieces, I advise against it unless the framing is deeply discounted or free.
Some final thoughts for art centers out there which have traditionally only sold art in their benefit auctions.
In many cases, an art center’s mission is to promote art to the larger community. These centers remind us that art enriches our culture, reminds us of our humanity, and is a valuable, tangible creative expression. In many cases, an art center’s mission is not to support *this* art style or *that* artist, but to support art in general.
Consider expanding on that theme in your items. Sell an art vacation.
It might be a first-class trip to Miami Art Basel or transportation and lodging to Burning Man (Can you imagine!).
Offer a behind-the-scenes at the Santa Fe Art Colony in Los Angeles, or one-on-one instruction with a professional artist at The Torpedo Factory.
Is there a restaurant in the city which has collaborated with an art center to rotate artwork on the walls? Secure a dinner for two where guests can enjoy culinary delights on the table, and artistic delights on the walls.
The auction is your opportunity to remind art-loving guests that art is meant to be experienced in a multitude of ways, and can be brought into many aspects of our life to enrich our experience as humans. Use your items to remind guests that art is meant to be appreciated with all five senses.