Saatchi Art is a popular online marketplace for emerging artists trying to sell their art. Artists join for free with high hopes of exposing their work to collectors, and to make fast, easy money. But what Saatchi Art doesn’t tell you about are the real costs that come with this “free” opportunity:

  1. If you don’t own the platform, you don’t own your success. They make the rules, not you.
  2. Saatchi Art employs discounting, which is the quickest way to destroy the perceived value of your art.
  3. Saatchi Art is an oversaturated online marketplace. Instead of pouring your precious time and attention into competing with other artists, learn how to define your niche, and build your own platform.

Little do most artists know, Saatchi Art does not offer useful guidance to increase views of your artwork among collectors. Most of your page views will come from other artists who are competing with you. 

Saatchi Art fails to highlight that their terms and conditions allow them to discount your art and at whatever discounted price they choose.

Maria, an artist from London, experienced Saatchi’s surprising terms first hand after she eagerly joined Saatchi to sell her art. Maria later received a Saatchi Art newsletter saying that now and again, they offer their collectors a discount and the artist shares the cut with Saatchi. But Maria didn’t remember granting permission to Saatchi to sell her art inventory at a discounted price of their choosing. She felt cheated. Imagine. What if eBay or Craig’s List decided to swoop in and discount your listing to whatever price they saw fit without your consent?

Upon receiving this newsletter, Maria immediately reached out to the Saatchi Art support team. She received a response saying that information about discounts could be found in their terms and conditions which she had agreed to by joining Saatchi Art. However, the agreement wasn’t clear that the discounted price would lower the artist’s payment. 

Maria also noticed that she hadn’t had a single view. She tried again and reached out to Saatchi Art to ask for advice on how to improve her art’s visibility. The first tip they gave her was to lower the price of her art — lousy advice. Discounting your art destroys the perceived value of your art and your reputation as an artist. Think about it. Once you discount your art, you’ve entered a downward spiral. Why should anyone pay you full price for your art if they expect you to lower your prices eventually?

Saatchi Art’s second tip was to for Marie to enter their competitions – which she would have to pay to enter! The “prestigious art contest” ploy is an unfortunate yet pervasive way to profit from vulnerable artists who have no idea how else to sell their art. However, there is no prestige in being played.

If you are paying to enter art contests, it is because you have not yet determined your niche yet and you are looking for affirmation of your art’s value, which you can’t pay for. Selling your art is the only legitimate affirmation of the value of your art. What really matters is what your collectors think about your art. Who cares about a self-appointed judge’s half-hearted assessment of your art if they are not even thinking about buying it? Don’t allow others to profit from uncertainty.

Warning. If you do sell your art, you may end up having to pay Saatchi if it sells out of the country. You are liable for international shipping costs and import taxes. Saatchi, if you’re reading this, you’re not fooling us. The promise that entices artists is that they don’t have to pay for shipping and there are no hidden fees. But when artists are paid much less than expected, they’re slapped with “it’s in our terms and conditions.” Another artist whom I have mentored sold a piece internationally and ended up having to pay customs and international taxes, of which she was unaware. After all of these fees, she ended up making $10. Nope, I didn’t forget a zero – $10!! That barely covered the cost of her art materials, not to mention her time and energy.

I’ve been working with artists for 15 years, and I have yet to meet an artist who has had success with Saatchi Art or any other overcrowded online art marketplace.

Anyone can sign up and sell their art, so how is it possible to differentiate your art? How can an artist find real collectors by entering contests and discounting their work? The reality is, if you don’t own the platform, you don’t get to make the rules, and you become a slave to the terms and conditions – which no one ever reads.

Saatchi Art is a thinly cloaked extension of the scarcity and permission-based art establishment, and they make the rules; this is not a game that you are going to win.

Learn how to sell your own art, without feeling like a sellout. Be your own boss, make your own rules, and keep 100% of YOUR profits. Learn how buy applying to join the Making Art Making Money Program. You’ll graduate once you’ve earned back your tuition investment, at a minimum, through the sale of your art during your final project.  

6 Responses

  1. You are absolutely on the button with this article. Along with all the materials etc, is the time spent uploading, configuring and depressingly, waiting. It’s not the money that matters, it’s the exposure, or lack of it.

    1. I agree with some of what you say, but also disagree with others that you impart.
      Juried competitions, particularly the prestigious ones, do promote the winning artists and there work. The same reason masters from the past entered the Salon, where the appointed jurors/judges’ opinions do matter, like at the Oscars, or Emmys. No artists,no matter how great, can survive in a vacuum, and competition is a healthy way to expose and promote visual art for artists, believe it, or not.

      1. Of course no one can survive in a vacuum. But there is no prestigious in being played. The only jury that matters is an artist’s target market 😉

  2. They notified me about a collector wanting to take down the price for one of my paintings. My prices are slightly over the reimbursement for materials so I said “no”. They were very unhappy and schooled me on how to be more lenient in pricing my art. It was a loss of free money for them but it is me who had to put the work and resources into my work.

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