Lena Levin’s Ten A Penny Experiment for Making Art Sales

Strawberries,  Oil on archival canvas panel, 12 x 9 inches, Lena Levin, October 2011.

Ten a penny experiment, by Lena Levin

The “ten-a-penny” has been designed as an experiment in “gift economy” — I wanted to make original oil paintings, even if smaller ones, available for a broader range of collectors, especially in today’s tighter economy.

The essence of the experiment is that the artist sets a suggested minimum for any painting offered for sale, and lets the collector decide how much they wish to pay and can afford. I added free shipping to keep matters as simple as possible, and promised no auctioning: I take each and every offer equal or above the suggested minimum.

The experiment has been running on my website since October 2011, and this stage is about to end on April 13 (this date was set in advance), and has sold more than 30 paintings.  I’ve decided to confine this experiment to my smaller works on panels, 9”x12” or less (mainly still lifes, but also some plein air landscape studies), while continuing to sell my larger paintings in a more conventional way. Among other things, this allowed me to keep the shipping prices in check, because these sizes fit into flat rate envelopes. The suggested minimum was set at $25.00. The actual offers varied from $25.00 to $250.00, with the average about $50.00. Most collectors fell into two groups: those who took me up on my offer or raised the price very slightly, and those who either doubled or tripled the suggested minimum.

With a single exception, all of them came to my website from Google+ (which is my only social network account). For the first several months of the experiment, I changed the small set of paintings offered in the experiment weekly or bi-weekly, announcing each change on Google+.

For the last three months, I offered a considerably larger set of paintings without any regular changes. Predictably, the first approach is more effective as far as the number of sales are concerned, but not necessarily so in terms of money: I know for a fact that some people had been saving money to make a better offer, which would have been impossible in the environment of bi-weekly or weekly changes.

To read more about the experiment, and to view the paintings still available, please visit my “Ten a Penny” page at www.lenalevin.com/gal/Give .