One for You, One for Me: Pay for Your Art Materials Up Front

Guest Blogger: Gary Peters

How I Sold 10 Pieces of Art and Covered the Costs for 10 More

Trying to find a way for your artwork to at least pay for itself–especially if you've only ever sold a couple of pieces–is a challenge we all face.
So I created the One-for-You, One-for-Me Offer to fix this. Using it I’ve to been able to cover my material costs, engage with my supporters, get finished work into people's homes and still have art to exhibit and sell.
You can do the same.

Here's How It Works

The idea is simple. If one of your supporters pays the material costs for you to make two new works of art, she gets one (at a very affordable price) and you get to keep the other.

How to Make This Idea Work for You

Gary Peters painting
©2010, Gary Peters, Colossal. Acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 x 45 mm.

1. Work out your material costs.
How much does it cost to make two pieces of work? One way to find out is to look at your receipts from the previous year and see how much you spent on materials. Divide this by how many works you made and you have a rough idea.
2. Find out what postal costs will be.
Sending art through the post, especially overseas, can be expensive. I purposely kept my work small to make postage easier. As for any import duties, you can make it clear the onus is on the recipient, not you.
Add the material costs and the postal costs together and can estimate the price of your offer.
3. Get clear on your offer.
Once you have an idea of your costs, add them together to get your offer price. If your material costs are $110 and your postal costs are $55 then your offer may look something like this:

The One-for-You, One-for Me Offer
You can receive one of my new works by covering
the cost of materials for me to make two new pieces of art.
After I've made them I'll choose one of the works for you
and pop it in the post.  That one's for you, and the other is for me.
The cost?

4. Prepare before you launch your offer.
I decided to launch my offer exclusively to my weekly newsletter readers–in order to thank them their subscription and because they already have an interest in my work.
You can do the same. And if you haven’t got a newsletter start one today! It’s valuable in so many ways.
You’ll also need to set up a Web page from which you can receive payments. I used PayPal so I could accept credit cards with no costs upfront–there’s a fee if you make a sale. It’s secure and relatively simple to set up and use.
5. Launch your offer.
Once you’ve got your list and have a trusting relationship with your supporters you’re good to launch. Don’t worry too much about the size of your list (I only had 50 people on mine).
Tease your offer over a couple of weeks before you launch it. Aim to get people intrigued and interested. First briefly mention you’re working on something special. Follow this a week later with a more detailed explanation of your offer and include the launch date. At this point you can give people an indication of the price. For example, It’ll be less than $500.
Finally, send the launch email. Clearly explain the offer as described under #3 so people know what they’re signing up for. Include the actual price and direct your reader to your website page where they can pay you. Be prepared for people asking about paying in installments or making payments directly to your bank account. Have an invoice ready to send them with your bank details and all will be sweet.
6. Follow up and ship.
Once people have signed up you’ve obviously got to make the work and ship it! And don’t forget to follow up with your supporters while you’re making the work. It’s good to keep them involved and let them know how things are going.


From my list of 50 people, ten signed up for my offer, and that included a good friend paying me double to make him a diptych.
Starting work on the new pieces while knowing my material costs are covered has been great, as is knowing that half of the pieces already have homes to go to. And speaking with the people who signed up, they’re as excited as I am about this project.
Hopefully your supporters will be as excited about your One-for-You, One-for Me Offer!

Gary PetersGuest blogger Gary Peters creates intuitive, colorful paintings in which he explores and reveals a variety of changing places and spaces. He's also interested in discovering new business models for artists and has created a free, more detailed, One for You Report you to download.

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18 thoughts on “One for You, One for Me: Pay for Your Art Materials Up Front”

  1. Terrific idea, Gary.
    This reminds me of Lisa Call’s prepurchase program for her South African Impressions artworks.
    And these ideas are really Community Supported Art… not to be confused with Community Supported Agriculture, the other CSA!.
    I love it.

    1. Thanks Cynthia.
      The community aspect of this is really interesting. Ten people who weren’t previously connected now are through this project (or will be once I’ve finished making their work!).

  2. I like your style but honestly I think you are underpricing your work…Use this as a loss leader to get known & build your following, then please charge more on your next venture…really great work…really…

    1. Thank you Sari – it’s always nice to hear when people like my work.
      Re the loss leader and charging more next time – that’s pretty much the plan 🙂
      This first time was very much a test to see if the idea worked, to thank my newsletter readers for their support and to purely cover my material costs. It was a conscious choice to make the prices as affordable as possible. Next time prices will be higher and the offer may be open to wider audience.
      The pieces I get to keep from this I plan to price at around $850 NZD. What do you think – still too low, too high or just about right?

  3. I agree with Sari; this is a great “get to know me” tactic or could be used as the theme for a special sales event. However, if one is attempting to make a living creating and selling art, “one for you, one for me” is an impossible pricing model.

    1. Hi Diana – I agree totally and the imp in me would love to find a way for me to make a living from my “One for you, one for me” idea!

  4. *If 850 New Zealand dollars = 640.250035 Canadian dollars (today)
    *(if the work I saw on your site is 200mm by 200 millimetres-on the one for me one for you page)
    * If There are 25.4 millimetres in one inch. Therefore, rounded to two decimal places, 200 millimetres is equal to 200/25.4 = 7.87 inches.
    *if 7.87 X 7.87 = 61.9369 (total square inches)
    *if your work is worth 10 dollars (sorry I’m in Cad dollars) a square inch…
    *then, $619.36 Cad is a fair starting asking price (which is close to your $850NZD number- & I bet if you add taxes, shipping & packing, it comes to that…
    *so, yes…Goldilocks says not too hot not too cold, just right…But, use that as an asking price, let people make you an offer if they are short, you can take more than one offer on a work, see who offers more, like a mini oral auction, take your time, & you can still sell for lower if you feel like it…Then it feels like a deal(to them) when they have paid less than your higher asking price…
    p.s. grain of salt with anything I say, Canadians are known for being “crazy canucks”…

    1. Cheers Sari.
      Nice to know I’m on track and so good to get another opinion on my pricing… even from a crazy canuk 😉

  5. What a great article and idea. I have a decorative arts business and have wondered how I could cover the costs of adding some new and fresh works into my portfolio and with this concept I think I now have a way. I am glad I found you and I will be following. Downloading the report now….

    1. Hi Arthur,
      Pleased to hear my idea may be of use to you. That’s great!
      If you’re still having problems downloading the report, flick me an email and I’ll send you a copy.

  6. I can’t find the link for the more detailed version of this… I would love to get it..
    can anyone give me a direct link?

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Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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