Saatchi can sell your art at a discount.

Is Saatchi is discounting your art?


Artist, Maria Beadell, London, England

Marie Beadell (00:01): I’m in London, UK. 

Ann Rea (00:03): Okay, cool. I’ve got a lot of Londoners. 

Marie Beadell (00:06):Yeah, there’s a lot of us. 

Ann Rea (00:10): I can’t wait until the queen enrolls.

Marie Beadell (00:12): I know it’s only a matter of time. Obviously. It is.

What were your challenges an an artist?

Marie Beadell (00:14): I’ve painted, I’ve always painted mainly portraits, but I’ve never really had a focus on what kind of portraits, where I’m going with them, what I’m doing, why I’m doing them. So no real focus at all.

What where your challenges an an artist?

Marie Beadell (00:36): The most obvious one is complete lack of confidence, you know? I mean, that’s the first thing.

What where your challenges an an artist?

Marie Beadell (00:42): And also not being able to talk about my work at all and not knowing what to say. So people sort of, you know, I’ve, I’ve exhibited, you know, and spoken to people about my work and they’ve asked me about my work. And they’re sort of like, “Oh, so what is all this about then?” And I’m just kind of like a bit clueless about what, “Oh, well I just thought that was quite a nice person to paint, so I painted them.” You know, it’s doesn’t mean anything. It just felt a bit meaningless.

Have you written an artist statement?

Marie Beadell (01:10): Oh God. I mean, yeah, I mean, when I’ve got time to think about I have done artist statements and I have made a load of like really cliched shitty stuff up that I’ve just picked up off online that has no relevance to me whatsoever. And I just like, “Oh buzzwords, I’m going to put that in. Oh, I’ll put that one in.” And then just stood there and felt really uncomfortable and just talk to a load of bullshit.

What does Ann Rea think about artist statements?

Ann Rea (01:32): They’re conversation killers. That’s what they are.

Marie Beadell (01:35): Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. Yeah.

Ann Rea (01:39): If they kill the conversation and you can’t connect with the perspective collector, then you killed the sale. And you kill your self-confidence cause you know, you’re full of shit when you’re writing this stuff.

Marie Beadell (01:48): Exactly. And it must come across that you’re full of shit when you write this stuff. I mean, it must, you must be obvious.

What did Marie learn from trying to sell her art on Saatchi?

Marie Beadell (01:55): Um, so I received a newsletter from Saatchi because I’m signed up to them. I’m on their platform, to just just inform me that now and again, they offer their collectors promotional discounts. Um, yeah. And it was just casually mentioned and it was sort of like, and it was just like a really brief summary of it just saying “And the artists and Saatchi will share the, the cut.” So I thought, “Oh, okay, this is interesting.” And I just emailed the support, you know, helpline just to see what that was about.

Marie Beadell (02:31): And I got, what I now realize is a stock response that is cut and pasted and sent to everyone who asks this question, was this, uh, “Oh, we must remind you that you signed up to this. It’s in our terms and conditions.” And t was basically that they offer in order for the collectors to see apparently to see work that they wouldn’t previously be exposed to. They occasionally offer promotional discounts on selected artists work, but they don’t explain who they select. I think it’s random. And then the artist gets a 65% cut of the final sale price and Saatchi gets the 35%. Um, and that’s how it works. I then emailed and said, “Okay, well can you show me where it says that in the terms and conditions?” And they sent me the link to that, but it was really brief, you know. Just didn’t really explain all that detail at all. It just said “We occasionally offer discounts.” And didn’t explain that, you know, it would affect my cut cause I would kind of think, well if they offer discounts and don’t ask the artists, then you know, they should really be taking the cut of that, not the artist. I mean come on, that’s not really fair because I haven’t chosen as the artists to apply a discount.

Why shouldn’t you discount your art?

Ann Rea (03:51): You shouldn’t because it will really hurt your reputation with people who you’ve already paid you full price or you’ve asked to pay your full price.

Marie Beadell (04:01): Yeah, exactly.

Ann Rea (04:02): And the valuation of your art.

How does Saatchi decide whose art they will discount?

Marie Beadell (04:05): I asked as well “Well how do you, can you explain how you choose which ones?” And he didn’t answer that question. Just to kind of ignored it. So yeah,

Ann Rea (04:14): So Saatchi if you’re listening you might want to answer the question. It’s a very valid question. I’m going like this managing Saatchi and the clouds of the ivory tower.

Can you sell your art on

Ann Rea (04:28): I have students in 19 countries, so I talked to a lot of artists and I have not met a single artist who’s had success on Saatchi or other platforms like Saatchi. And it’s because you’re in this really crowded space and it’s near impossible for you to differentiate yourself in this mosh pit of art. I don’t believe like, I believe that you should Zig where everyone else is zagging. That’s fundamentally why it’s why Making Art Making Money program is fundamentally different because I don’t believe in duking it out with other artists.

What alternative does an artist have?

Ann Rea (05:09): I believe in creating distinct value above and beyond the art itself and service to a target market and you can let all the other artists duke it out for this scarcity from the scarcity and permission-based art establishment, which is what Saatchi is.

Have any students sold their art on

Ann Rea (05:24): I did have one student tell me she sold one piece. I don’t know for what price and I don’t know what discount. That was after two years.

Marie Beadell: 05:34 Wow.

What else did Marie Beadell learn about

Ann Rea (05:37): It sounds like, it was really, this was, you know, this is your product, this is your inventory. And it sounds like it was really difficult for you to get an understanding of what was happening and about them slashing your price.

Marie Beadell (05:47): Yeah, exactly. It was, it was very veiled. I mean, I don’t think they expect people to actually ask about it. Um, another thing I found out was that I actually emailed them as well to ask, you know, I’ve been on there for about four months and I haven’t had a single view. And not even a single view. So I emailed them and said, “Okay, I’m not having much success on your site. Could you perhaps, you know, explain why? What am I doing wrong or something?” And they replied, the same guy again. And he said, “Okay. Here is some, you know, stock tips. And the first one was lower the price of your art.” And that was the first thing. Now I’m not charging a ridiculous amount. Like they email every week a newsletter of all the apparently, the art that’s sold, which I don’t even believe. And it’s like thousands and thousands of dollars or pounds.

How much can you be paid on

Ann Rea (06:38): I do want to mention there is one student also from England who told me that she sold a piece on Saatchi. I take that back there. There’s two students I know out of the 19 countries. However she sold it and then she had to pay so much foreign exchange tax that she wound up with $10.

Marie Beadell (06:59): I saw that yeah. In the Facebook group. Yeah I know. Which is kind of just you know, it’s totally pointless then.

Ann Rea (07:06): Right because then you don’t know. You might be, if you’re exposing yourself to some risk there, if that, say if there’s a transaction they happens on Saatchi don’t know you’re liable for all this tax. Do you really want to do it? No.

What else did Marie learn about

Marie Beadell (07:23): And another thing that confirms what you say is the other tip was to enter their competition. UGH! And then I just heard your voice like in my head like, “Don’t enter competitions.” I was just like, “Oh my God.” It’s just like the classic to put down your prices, enter our competitions and I think you have to pay to enter them.

Ann Rea (07:44): Oh, of course you do. It’s another revenue stream for them. Of course.

Marie Beadell (07:48): Oh my God. And, and the other thing, what was it? Oh, put up an artist statement and biographical. It was just like, Whoa, seriously.

Will you gain real “exposure” on

Marie Beadell (08:03): And it’s free to, anyone can sign up. So can you imagine how many thousands of artists they have on there? I mean, what’s the chance of you actually getting seen at all? So yeah,

Hey Saatchi. Not cool.

Ann Rea (08:16): You should not have had to work this hard to find out that by surprise that your art was about to be discounted and that you were about to receive far less than you originally thought you were agreeing to.

Marie Beadell (08:30): Right, exactly. Yeah. And I’m sure there are plenty of other platforms, not even just Saatchi that are doing that, you know, so people have to be aware of it.

Should other artists apply to enroll in the Making Art Making Money program?

Marie Beadell (08:40): If you want to– cause it’s not even just about art. If you want to find your purpose, find what you’re here to do. I mean, it goes so beyond that for me, so far. It has. It’s worth it just for that alone. Even like way above and beyond any art at all. So I think it should just be required course for all of humanity. And I honestly think, I honestly think, I really think that, I mean, not even just for artists, it should be for everyone. Um, just sign up. Just do it. 

Ann Rea

Ann Rea, Fine Artist & Mentor

Ann Rea is a San Francisco-based fine artist. She created Making Art Making Money, the leading and most reputable business program for fine artists since 2005. Rea’s art and business savvy have been featured on ABC, HGTV, Creative Live, The Good Life Project, in the book Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields, the San Francisco Chronicle, Art Business News, Fortune, and Inc. Magazines. Rea’s artistic talent was commended by her mentor, art icon Wayne Thiebaud. 

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20 Responses

  1. I think you are perhaps being a little bit too biased re:Saatchi. I sold 3 prints for $1,380 in the first 9 months I was on it. Getting visibility is difficult and you must promote your listings through Twitter and other media. As with other online venues participating in community by following and favoriting other artists can help. I also have been contacted by an interior designer for a commission because of Saatchi, which is her go-to to find art for projects.

    My understanding is the competition you refer to is to get into one of the art fairs they sponsor. That is very different from a vanity competition. Being in a fair and making direct contact with new patrons is a good opportunity (in my experience with similar situations—I have not applied to a Saatchi fair yet.

    Every venue is competitive. Saatchi is far from perfect but I think it can be very effective for some artists.

    1. I congratulate you Iskra.

      However, your experience is not typical of my own or my students who are artists from 19 countries.

      The point here is that hiding discounting from artists is not only unprofessional it is unethical.

  2. Here are my thoughts regarding online art “megastores” like Saatchi, et. al., as a gallery owner, curator, artist, and collector: 1- The art world has demonized professional dealers for too long. We have overhead that includes rent, dedicated and knowledgable sales staff, exhibition production costs, and all the other things that allows for the “high touch” collector experience to occur, and that ENTITLES us to a fair take of a sale. If you need to make more money as an artist, tell us, we will build YOUR income into the sale, or advise you to what is realistic. 2- Online art sales are destroying the artist’s ability to actually earn a fair price for their work because online art shoppers are not interested in owning a unique object of value, they are interested in owning a decorative, affordable, and easily acquirable piece of decor. Online art buyers have not been properly educated as to what is “good” and “of value”, and YES, these are objective, not subjective concerns; 3- Art dealers, especially the elite ones, have been pulling a fast one over on the general public for three decades. They have established a market that is little more than a money laundering scheme for the elite buyers, and that means that the VERY few artists embraced by this scheme can become fairly wealthy, fairly quickly, but that EVERYONE else is left out in the cold. The elite “collectors” are buying out Chelsea shows and traveling to Miami to bury money, not because they truly care about the art; 4- The news media covers the “art world” like it is monolithic. The extraordinary wealth reportedly created within the “art world” each year represents a specific few auction houses, handful of Chelsea galleries, and relatively anonymous “investor” collectors from places like China, Russia, and the UAE… In other words, the record sales recorded each year have nothing to do with the average gallery, average artist, and average citizen. 5- It would all be made better overnight if the IRS got serious about enforcing tax codes on the ultra wealthy, if we provided a proper arts education in public schools, if artists dedicated themselves to their craft and let curators and dealers do the equally hard work of helping them discover their proper place in the art-historical context, and if the general public prioritized art the way it does Carnival cruises and flat screen tvs… Finally, the hard truth is that everyone should be free to create art if they are so moved, and everyone should be free to experience art, but not EVERYONE should be a “professional” artist… but hey, what do I know? I’ve just been in this business for over 20 years.

    1. I agree with everything but your last statement “not EVERYONE should be a ‘professional’ artist.”

      Since art IS in the eye of beholder, who do you propose should police this title and how?

      Who cares? Oh, the gatekeepers. That’s who.

      1. No, everyone should not be a “professional” artist; just like not everyone should be a “professional” singer, or “professional” dancer. By saying EVERYONE can be a professional artist is contributing to the problem. The statement that “art is in the eye of the beholder” does not mean that a pile of poo is art because someone said it is.

        1. Funny you should say that because the last time I was at the San Francisco Modern Museum of art I saw a relief sculpture of an elephant made of elephant shit and litter. 😉

  3. I recently sold two paintings, via Saatchi, to MGM resort/casinos. It was a lucrative sale, but I did discount a bit. This sale is the only sale in two years. But, I am happy to have the sale. I did my own research to find out how to approach the interior designers who bought the art. I feel my effort promoted the sale.

    1. If you are happy to have a discounted sale after two years, you are playing right into the hands of the scarcity and permission based art establishment. Take your power back.

  4. Saatchi lists discounts on the banner of their page. If a customer makes a personal offer, Saatchi contacts the artist who has the option to accept or refuse.
    One can consider this when pricing their work.
    The website is user friendly, and you can change it any time.
    Saatchi covers shipping fees, and the artist provides the box.
    I’ve had 6 sales on Saatchi in four years, one nice commission, and one return.
    Saatchi has provided a good supplemental income.
    It’s a good idea to remain consistent in pricing if you are selling in other venues.

    1. Good for you. However, that does not change the fact that there terms regarding tax liability and discounting are cloaked.

  5. Funny how people think the sale of a few paintings over a couple of years is a partial success. When I worked through the galleries many years ago I was selling over 50 a year and this was just enough to make a modest living. After moving from London to Australia I gave up being a full time painter because I could not turn over the same numbers. Now I just paint for pleasure.
    It appears that the only way you can make a living as a full time artist is through the traditional route of galleries and exhibitions. Maybe galleries have more success selling your work online because they have an established reputation.

  6. I have sold well over 100 pieces with Saatchi Art. This is my profile, you can see for yourself When you sign up they do reveal they can offer up to 15% I believe it is discount on works – they do this mostly during a holiday or occasionally specials through the year. They do have the “Make an Offer” button which I do not like. However, you are not forced to accept anything you don’t want to. I have been selling on Saatchi Art for the last 3 years and found them completely transparent. I have had only good communications and results with them. It’s not a site where you can just throw your work up and walk away and cross your fingers. Like anything else you have to work with it. And yes there is a “mosh” full of artists – they are everywhere though, every big city, all over the world, through Instagram, etc. It’s nothing new. But they give you an opportunity to get your work out there to buyers. I live in a small town and would not otherwise have opportunities I have had even just this past year selling works to Nigeria, Brussels, Portugal, UK and throughout the states.

    1. That’s great Susan! How much commission did you pay and do you have access to your collector’s contact information?

  7. I’m on Fine Art America and Saatchi. I don’t discount, but I also don’t sell. This discussion has flipped a switch for a tiny light bulb in my brain, a brain that seems incapable of understanding marketing in any of its permutations.

    I want to thank you for your contributions to the downtrodden sensitives among us who can’t imagine being another cog in the insatiable cultural machine.

    1. Saatchi have their own favorites as far who they promote. I’ve tried to contact the curators with no such luck. All I put up there are art prints…but, I haven’t sold one yet. It’s pretty much a joke. I also am active on IG that links to my Saatchi storefront. I’m an abstract artist with my own style. I kind of given up on it. I still make art, but, selling it is sort of whatever anymore…

  8. Very interesting read especially for a new artist. I’ve wondered about Saatchi and this has definitely answered some questions. It seems a lot of art does get lost but got to be proactive and social on platforms. If people like your art they will buy or follow (eventually!). I do agree with the discounted rate and should be put forward to the artist first. I’m guessing that with the number of artists on Saatchi that this would be too time-consuming for the company. If my art had sat there for years though I might myself consider the discount offered to collectors.

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