I attended an opening night for an art exhibition at the start of the weekend, and was interested to see which artworks were selling and why. We got there just at the start, but already one painting had been sold (on the private viewing evening the day before). It was one of the smaller paintings, with a more traditional style and subject matter than the rest. It was a local seascape. The rest were more abstract, bolder colours, and less recognisable scenes.
During the course of the evening, two more of these paintings sold (each around the $150 mark), all 3 from the same artist. This made me wonder, what it was about these particular ones that were proving so popular. The quality of the work was comparable to the others, and the artist was not more 'famous' than the others.
The exhibition itself was with 5 artists. Each artist had a set amount of space to use. The other 4 artists had chosen to display two large paintings each (about 30x40" in size), whereas this artist had chosen to display about 10 smaller paintings, with fairly affordable price tags. The other paintings were around the $2000 mark.
The location of the smaller paintings also seemed key. They were directly over the food table, where pretty much everyone was gathered (and had a reason to attend to this area!).
So, I concluded, that with all other elements being equal, and without running a proper study on it, these were the influencing factors for the sale of the paintings that evening (which I will class as impulse purchases):
(bearing in mind the exhibition will be running for a couple of weeks and people may need some time to decide on a larger priced purchases).
1) Size of painting
Smaller paintings are less intimidating, more giftable, and are easier to carry home. They are also easier to find a space on your wall for them.
2) Price of painting
Paintings around the $150 are still in the price point of 'gift for myself' arena. Sunglasses, handbags and shoes may be around this point too, so not a major thought process.
3) Location of painting
By placing the paintings near food, not only do you get more footfall (or eyeballs) on your work, but people will see it multiple times as they come back for more food. This increases familiarity with the work, and also gives the impression that it is popular and therefore more desirable.
By providing a variety of sizes and varying compositions, people will feel they have a choice and increases the chance they will find one they like.
Like I said, this applies mainly to impulse purchases - ones that don't require much consultation with your partner, or lengthy discussions as to where the artwork might fit in the home. I would imagine that the person who does an impulse art buy would not be the same one as the person who is looking for an art investment or a statement piece for their home. Time will tell if they rock up later in the coming weeks and decide to do so!