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Iowa Art


I heard of the other day, and checked it out this morning. Nice site, lots of stuff from which to choose, but check out those prices!

Watercolor, 5 inches by 5 inches, and it's yours for $400.

The site was prompted by the Iowa Arts Council and built by local web shop Spindustry Systems, who charges an arm and a leg for web sites. And it appears that artists' agents are involved, so there are lots of middlemen and expenses that get padded into the purchase price of art you might otherwise enjoy at an accessible price.

I might be naive, but in my opinion, why charge so much for art? In this era of free blogging tools and credit-card-accepting PayPal shopping carts, artists can take their work directly to the people with less bloat.

[Waxing philosophic...] Shouldn't art be accessible to anyone?

Earlier this year, I bought and haven't done anything with it. But here's the concept: what if artists could manage their own section of the site, like a blog, and give a history of each work like I've done before. Let the artist set the price of their work and then bump it up $10 as a simple flat fee on every purchase through the site. The artist is then responsible to deliver the work to the customer.

I've considered prices for my work. I'd have a hard time charging more than $100. I understand why it's done, but art just seems to me like it should be within the reach of anyone who wants to buy it. Signed, limited edition prints seem adequate rather than originals.

And speaking of affordable, framing costs are outrageous too.

I just think that there has to be a better, more approachable way.

ETC: I just purchased the more generic, but perhaps better domain names, and We'll see what happens, eh?


by Brett Rogers, 8/14/2005 8:07:37 AM


Great idea. I look a lot, but if I need a piece of art, I usually make do with the best I can create on my own... Just too cheap (and with too many other obligations, I excuse myself) to pay the prices some seem to think (and they may be right) their work is worth.

Or maybe it is the distribution channel warping pricing, much as it does with music—or what passes as music in the manufacturing realm of big record companies.



Posted by David, 8/14/2005 10:57:35 AM

But...I have to play devil's advocate here a moment...because,'s what I do. :-) Art is accessable to everyone who can see and look at it. To OWN others work can, indeed, be expensive. If it is an artist's entire livelyhood. $400 seems a lot, but when you only sell one or two paintings a week (which is probably optimistic), pay taxes, rent and your own health's nothing. Art and capitalism are not mutually exclusive.

And if you really want to wax philosophic...what happens when your art becomes not just your passion, your expression of your soul, but your bread and butter as well? How does necessity impact doing what you love?



Posted by Bella, 8/15/2005 7:37:19 PM

Both great comments. Being a free market capitalist, I don't really care what a person charges for what they do. If they can get away with it, more power to them.

David's right - much of the hike is in the distribution channel. I wonder how much of that $400 is really going to the artist. Half? A quarter? With the benefit of web distribution, I think the middle men can be excised from the sale and steer more of the money to the artist and reduce the price to something more accessible for the consumer. Which was kind of the point that I was making ("direct to the people with less bloat.")

Further, I think the art is more interesting when the buyer knows the story behind the work. Blogging the steps taken in production can endear the audience and increase the value and the market for the work.

If it were available for artists to reduce their cost of distribution and engage the market better, it's obviously good for the artist's bottom line. Mine wasn't a post about tall price tags, so much as it was wondering out loud about improving the chanel. But I did talk about prices...

Like I said - for myself, I'd have a hard time charging more than $100.

If people can charge $2,000 for their work, I salute their marketing. Such prices, which often seem the norm in the art world, leave many consumers without the benefit of having reach of the art. That's a shame. Likewise, there are those will pay $50,000 for a car that will be worth a tenth of its value in ten years. I'm not one of those people. I don't understand that either, but obviously that market exists. I don't have a problem with that.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 8/15/2005 11:22:56 PM

Let me know how you want me to help, Brett.



Posted by GradualDazzle, 8/19/2005 11:17:31 AM

Hello All,

Interesting comments about, and here's a few more in attempt to offer clarity and perspective: is a new tool through which Iowa artists and artists’ agents can sell works of art, ranging from paintings and photographs to compact discs and books.

Prices for works of art on are set by the artists or the artists’ agents. The IAC requires artists and/or the artists’ agents to price the work for at the same rate as they do for other outlets – arts fairs, galleries, etc...

The Iowa Arts Council receives a small transaction fee from the artist or artist’s agent whenever a piece is sold. The IAC directs the transaction fee to continuing maintenance of the website. The balance of the transaction is forwarded to the artist or the artist’s agent, with whom the artist has a pre-existing relationship, agreement or contract.

Iowa artists and others in our state enthusiastically supported and embraced the idea of developing during statewide cultural caucuses held last year by the Department of Cultural Affairs. The website is a wonderful opportunity for artists to gain on-line exposure who may never have had the chance to do so before.

For the initial launch, art pieces and other products were reviewed and recommended based on the quality of their work by a panel of advisors. The Iowa Arts Council expects to expand to include a larger number of Iowa artists and artist agents through an application and review process.

Thank you, and I encourage you to visit

Jeff Morgan
Department of Cultural Affairs
600 E. Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50319



Posted by Jeff Morgan, 9/9/2005 2:17:17 PM

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