Informing Collectors of Price Increases

How do you tell collectors your prices have gone up?
A subscriber asks:

I've recently seen a huge jump in the sale prices of my originals (from per-piece sales of $100 or $200 to per-piece sales of several thousand dollars).
I'm wondering whether it would be a useful thing to inform the customers who've bought my work before that their art is now worth more. On one hand, if I'd bought someone's work when it cost $10, I'd really want to know if his or her current work is selling for $3000, because I'd like to know the market value of what I've got (and I'd like to be pleased to see an artist I'm patronizing succeeding).
On the other hand, I'm not sure if it comes off arrogant or snotty.
I'd love to hear your and other artists' experience with these kinds of questions!

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12 thoughts on “Informing Collectors of Price Increases”

  1. There’s nothing wrong with banging your own drum when done politely (I believe there’s a previous artblog on this) but I think this is secondary to keeping your customer informed both for adequately insuring thier piece and for resale markets. It’s one thing to resale a piece at a low price by choice (to a friend), another to lose a large chunk of change because you were unaware of increased value. Likewise, trying to replace a lost piece that was underinsured can be very costly

  2. my prices go up 10% every 6 months and i send out a note about it in my newsletter telling every one to get there commissions before the jump and 25% down locks in the older price if i cant get to it till after the jump, keeps me busy

  3. This is a great question. Alyson, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this. We haven’t notified people of raises in my husband’s original pieces, although the prices have gone up every year.
    It hadn’t occurred to me to notify collectors that their Drew Brophy artwork is worth more every year. I just thought they assumed so…
    But it’s got me thinking, maybe it’s a good idea to let them know, for insurance purposes, that the value is increasing year after year.
    Thanks for giving me one more thing to consider!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Just what you needed, right? Something more on your plate. I really like what McKenna wrote below. What do you think?

  4. I try to be as honest as possible about why my prices have gone up or down, with detailed stories & reasons on my blogs & websites…This year, I needed art lawyers & artist union folk among others to get my consignment works out of a distrained gallery (lovcked out & landlord selling goods)…Took me over a month & a half…At the end, I gave a painting to someone who helped me tremendously, & it turns out the painting is now in a collection for a museum, soon to be built…At the end of the ordeal, I tallied up my numbers & raised all of my prices like a billion percent, because I felt that if I have to now pay for art lawyers, I can’t mess around with discounts anymore…Plus, I got into my first museum…I wrote about all of this online & assume that if anyone wants to check current prices, they will find me online…

  5. This is a very important point to consider. I think it’s a good reminder (promotion in a way) to your collectors about yourself and your works and the value of their purchases. So, the notification can work in multiple ways in my opinion.
    Alyson, I would also love to know your thoughts on this 🙂

  6. I don’t think the question posed is about raising prices, per say, but informing past buyers that the VALUE of their original purchase has increased. If we think of art just like any other investment, it makes complete sense to track and report increases in value on a regular basis (if administratively feasible for the artist). No need for stock-market like tickers (although that is kind of a cool idea now that I think about it), but providing new valuation figures is a service most buyers (even if they are accidental or hobbyist collectors vs. professional curators or so-called “serious” investors) would find valuable. Furthermore, most people would need this information in the event the art is sold, changes hands, or is damaged – for tax and/or insurance purposes.
    As to the “how” to inform past purchasers – I think the best way to not come off arrogant or snotty (if this is a concern) is to make the communication sound professional and an attempt provide helpful information for documentation purposes. The purchaser will likely think you are a business-savvy and conscientious professional rather than someone with an inflated ego.

  7. Any and all contact with purchasers, or potential purchasers, via email blasts, art cards, or blogs is a marketing activity. If you stub your toe and that is “newsworthy” info to spread to your followers, it is still an opportunity to market your work.
    In the case of price increases this is a Marvelous Opportunity! Nothing says “I am successful and collectible” like price increases.
    To answer the above question specifically:
    Dear ______________,
    I have the honor of informing you of my continued growth as an artist and that my successful path has led to continued brisk sales of my work.
    High demands for my work have had a great and positive impact. I am very proud to announce that my work continues to command higher prices in the galleries that represent me. If you have purchased work from me prior to (pick a date) I would sincerely recommend that you contact the gallery that you purchased my work from and get a current appraisal.
    For those of you who have collected work directly from my private collection or studio, I am happy to discuss values at any time. I also encourage you to see the current body of work (link to photos) as I will be adjusting prices very soon.
    I am grateful for the small bit of notoriety and the large following my work continues to generate and thank each of you for your continued support and patronage.
    Best wishes,
    Words to that effect. Obviously the above is Very Generic! But the tone is quietly reflective and carefully suggesting that they have done a good thing by collecting this work and should consider adding to their collection.
    But back to my main point: every contact is “marketing activity”. Don’t waste the opportunity to “sell through” in any connections you make.
    Mckenna Hallett

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Lovely, McKenna. I know your words will help a lot of artists. You’re very good at what you do.

  8. OH! My…well…(blushing)
    Thanks Alyson! How kind.
    I think that my being an artist and business owner compels me to be as forthright and helpful as possible with others in this mysterious and often elusive livelihood. I am sure you share in the same instincts when faced with highly talented individuals who just need a compass to guide them from time to time.
    With small nudges from you, many are finding a deeper understanding and, thereby, increased success in this very competitive field.
    And thank-you for this venue you provide; this “free for the taking” forum for dissecting and learning is marvelous and you are amazing to keep pushing the “hot buttons” and to “force us” to keep thinking, thinking, thinking!
    THANKS for all great work you do in our community.
    Mckenna Hallett

  9. Pingback: A Template Letter for Informing Collectors of Price Increases — Art Biz Blog

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