Video: Ask a Gallery Owner | Should I Negotiate with Clients in Order to Make Sales?

In this week’s session I’ll tackle the sometimes tricky question of whether or not negotiating with customers to make a sale is advisable, and, if so, how to negotiate to best effect.


About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Hello ! Jason

    I just listened to your blog about : Should I Negotiate with Clients in Order to Make Sales?

    One question arose about this artist friend of mine who told me that when somebody is looking to one of his artwork with the look of someone who seems interested by the piece, he usually says that the price is negociable and that he can give a 10% or 15 % discount on that piece.
    He does this to be sure he will sell the piece.
    What do you think of this attitude ?

    Waiting for your answer.


    1. I think being flexible is a good idea, but I wouldn’t offer the discount right out of the gate. Let the conversation evolve and then use negotiation as a tool if necessary.

  2. Jason, I have a question. I have never been represented by a gallery so I am not well versed in negotiations that you as the gallery owner take on for the artist you are representing. So when you negotiate a 10% or whatever discount of someone’s art. how does that affect the artist who is now receiving less than expected? I realize that you also would be receiving less. Especially if you are throwing in a pricey shipping price. If I as the artist negotiated that discount then I am saying yes to that. But if you negotiated it for me in my absence, then I think (I really have not been in this situation with someone else doing the negotiations) I might be a bit upset. Yes it is a sale, yes it is to be celebrated…
    Do you contact the artist during the negotiation? It seems that could take the wind out of the sails, or pace of the negotiation. But I am just wondering . I am thinking that if I had a good working relationship with you as the gallery owner then I would have to trust that you are doing what you can to sell my art at the best possible price. If it happened often then would we agree that I might be too highly priced? Or that the gallery owner is just trying to make a sale, any sale? Please don’t take these questions as a statement of distrust of gallery owners. As I said before I have never had the privilege of those circumstances!

    1. Great questions Kay. We establish parameters for negotiating as we begin working with a new artist so there are no surprises. I ask for latitude to negotiate up to 15-20% from the retail price. Usually, if it is more than a 10% discount I will contact the artist to confirm it is okay. The gallery and the artist share in the discount. As a relationship between an artist and a gallery develops, the artist would typically come to trust the gallery to do what is best in any given situation. It’s in all of our best interest to sell art at the highest possible value. It also best for everyone involved for the work to sell.

  3. If a customer asks for a discount, I will sometimes work with them especially if the piece does not need to be shipped, for instance. Or if they offer me a price that is at a small (say less than 10%) discount then I will certainly consider it. However, it also depends on the setting for the sale of the piece. If I am paying a gallery commission vs at something like at an art fair, that also affects my asking price and what kind of discount I’ll accept. $50 on a $500 or $1000 piece is one thing – the one guy who offered me $100 for a $800 painting is quite another.

  4. These are all great points and I will definitely put them in my quiver. I have run into a question that drives many artists crazy. I participate in plein air festivals with show and sale at the end of a week of painting. The artist usually is required to stick close to their work they made and help viewers turn into buyers. But when the viewer says, “I don’t have any more room on my walls.”, I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. I do come back with – rotating work, that work needs to be rested periodically and changing art around in your home freshens things up, even pleasantly surprises you when you see a different piece up. But it rarely works. In the end these folks are just looking, another favorite saying. What would be the best follow up for this conversation? Set the stage for a later purchase?

  5. I’m in a gallery in Tucson. IN our inventory folder we have a signed paper that allows a 10% discount only when asked…also on pieces, say, over $200 dollars. Any other discount requests have to be approved by the artist. There would be room for negotiations if there is more than 1 piece involved.

    Also, we have a 3 payment lay away system in place. However, if the price of the artwork is very large and the client really must have it, additional payments can be worked out.

  6. so in the case of the $2000 piece that they offered $1600 for, you are actually giving them the piece for aprox. $1600 + ship + tax ($1850). will you actually eat the shipping and tax from your bottom line as gallery owner or does the artist get less proportionately in these negotiations?

    wonderful talk! thank you so much, karen

  7. This past weekend in Lexington at a show I had 3 different people ask for discounts. The first two I said no (one was a print) but the third I agreed because she bought 5 paintings. I gave her 15% off. It was a big sale for me.
    I see now the mistake I made however in not allowing her to set the tone first. I will next time so thanks for the reminder Jason! Your blog and book have really helped me grow as an art business person

  8. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to do a commissioned piece for an obvious multi-millionaire. It was a very large painting requiring site visits to his then current home as well as his new home where he intended to hang the piece. I price by the square inch and on that basis I quoted him a total price. After we reached agreement on the subject of the painting and the process, he asked for a 20% discount on the price. I declined, knowing I had given him a very fair price ($9,500) for the amount of work required. His negotiating technique was to get back to me and tell me he had found another artist that would do it for 20% less than my price. I knew he was bluffing, but even if he wasn’t I wasn’t interested in the job for that price. However, I thought the painting size he wanted was way too big for the space he wanted to hang it so I said I would lower the price by 20% if we could reduce the size of the painting by 20%. He accepted that immediately. All he wanted was the discount out of principle. As it turned out my original price had been based on $2.95 per square inch. By the time the reduced size of the painting was fine-tuned, the lower price ended up being $2.98 per square inch. I suppose we both won that negotiation.

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