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Bartering for fun and profit

In jos

Bartering for fun and profit

Mesaj  Admin la data de Vin Iun 05, 2009 9:32 am

June 5, 2009

Two days ago I happened to be cruising The Painter's Post and noticed an Artinfo item "Bartering is an art form all its own." The article mentioned Andy Warhol in need of a video camera, trading some self-portraits to an electronics guy. And Damien Hirst trading one of his early medicine cabinets to a willing dentist. In his speech accepting the 1995 Turner prize, Hirst thanked the doctor for "spending more time in my mouth than is healthy."

Judging by some of the letters in this inbox, bartering for art may be making a comeback. Online barter sites are going strong. Classifieds and Craigslist are in the game. There's even a course: "Barter 101."

Apart from the usual massages and yoga lessons, there are cottage swaps and boat trips. As you read this I'm exchanging a painting of Donegal for a trip to Ireland (and all the Guinness I can drink).

I, too, am the recipient of a pair of lovely golden molars. Dr. Mackenzie made them so much like Henry Moore's sculptures that every time another dentist looks in there he feels the need to maintain the high standard and charges me accordingly.

Then there was the time when a big rancher at a Calgary show purchased two of my efforts, needed another but happened to be out of cash. A few weeks later a refrigerated truck appeared in our driveway. We couldn't get the animal into our freezer and I was forced into butchery with my Swede saw. It was all to no avail. No matter how we cooked it, that critter was the toughest ever seen in the West. Most of it went to the neighbor's dogs. The rancher still has my painting.

So while the bartering system has some pitfalls, it's still a viable way of doing business. Funnily, after all these years of considering my bank balance, it's the trades I remember the most. I once got a station-wagon from a Chevy dealer for a painting that went into his closing room. The wagon lasted ten years and got me to some pretty wonderful places.

Trouble with bartering, you have to take it in as income and pretend it's cash. This could be pretty taxing if your whole business happened to be in barter. But then again, how else are you going to help out those poor chaps at GM?

Best regards,


PS: "He traded with the milkman to get milk. He loved the game of it. He was the king of barter." (Nancy Kienholz on her late husband, assemblage artist Ed Kienholz)

Esoterica: Very often potential barterers are reluctant to ask artists for fear they might insult them. I've found if I just suggest the idea they jump on it. You need to get your terms more or less clear. You don't want anything to spoil your fun, or theirs. Funnily as well, it's the trades that they remember the most. They feel good. In the long run the deal generally works to their advantage.


Current clickback: Winners and losers examines "winners" in the game of art and gives a few ideas how to be one. There are also illustrated reader responses and live comments.

Read this letter online and make your own comments on the business of bartering. Opinions, observations and anecdotal evidence are always welcome at


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Data de înscriere : 21/11/2008
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