How To Set Price For Artwork

How To Set Up An Art Return Policy

Is An Art Return Policy Needed?

If an artist does not allow returns it should be stated somewhere within an art return policy.  Nevertheless, not allowing returns can cause serious complications and is illogical.

In most cases returns should be allowed within a reasonable window of time.  There are also situations where art should not be returned.

I will review these different situations and the conditions which most artists find themselves within.  Unfortunately, within many art websites the artist gives up the ability to control many of these policies.

When Should A Return Policy Deny Art Being Returned?

If art has been personalized in any way then it should not be returned.  This personalization can be the addition of simple things such as the customers initials, birthday, or other requested alteration.

The reason for not allowing this art to be returned is due to how it cannot be resold.  The original art has been altered by the purchaser’s request.

In this situation it is not unreasonable to deny the art being returned under your return policy.

Commissioned Art Should Have Its Own Return Policy

Any artwork that is commissioned should never fall under standard return policies.  When a piece is commissioned, the artist should notify the customer if the end product is returnable, or if is not.

driftwood display art

Why does this remain the choice of the artist?  The answer is simple.  Some works of art can be tailored to the point that it is considered to be personalized.

Color, shape, or design of the artwork can remove its marketability.  On the other hand, if the art can be easily marketed and sold to another customer then I personally have no issues with accepting a return.

The choice behind this should always remain within the artist’s control.  It is unreasonable to allow every commissioned work to be returned, or say it cannot be returned.

Ultimately if I was forced to make a choice on this matter due to third party gateway interference, I would say they cannot be returned.

What Is A Reasonable Art Return Policy For Artwork?

If the artwork is not damaged and had not been displayed, then I would accept the art return within 15 days of it being received.  Some may go as far as 30 days, yet this is a personal choice.

I set no conditions on the why behind a customer wanting to return the art.  If it can be resold, then normally I consider it acceptable regardless of the why.  This is if it is within the proper time frame.

I do require the art to be in my possession and for it to be inspected before any monetary refund is issued.  This is nonnegotiable and it a policy that I control having an online gallery that I own.

Unfortunately for artists who do not have a ecommerce gallery the third party site you use to sell with will often control this.  It can be a very bad situation to be in due to the amount of fraud which takes place.

How Artists Lose Control Of Their Return Policy With Third Parties

There are a lot of artists today using art websites like Etsy, Artpal, and even Amazon.  Some vendors have a guaranteed return policy regardless of whatever you may like or dislike.

Then there are those such as Etsy which allow you to establish a return policy, yet they can overrule a decision and force you to refund a customer.  Why is this bad?

art gallery walls

There are many stories where a customer will purchase an expensive piece then after receiving it they initiate a return.  Once the return is complete the seller discovers an empty box.

In my case if this happened the issue is simple, no refund.  If this was done through Amazon it can become more complicated.

Unfortunately, these third party vendors do not do enough to protect sellers.  When it comes to an artist, the loss of one piece of artwork can be devastating.

Artists do not produce widgets of products.  Rather our artwork is often one of a kind and can at times be very valuable with many hours placed into it.

Not enough is considered by third parties that manage the gateway, so you need to be prepared to take back control of your art business.  This can only be done if you establish your presence through a gallery you own and operate online.

Art Return Policies On Social Media

There are many art sales today taking place on social mediaFan art is among the most popular genre for this to happen.

I have had wood art commissioned through Twitter.  How you decide to establish your return policy in these locations can offer a little more freedom than third party art websites.

digital social graphic

Some social media aps allow in app money transfers.  Otherwise you could use something like Zell or Paypal to complete the transaction.

I would follow the same art return policy guidelines as I have thus far laid out.  Nothing has changed other than the venue.

The one catch with using social media is that often the art sale will be for commissioned artwork.  Keep this in mind and build your policies around that understanding.

Within this environment the key is to receive payment before they are allowed to receive your artwork.  I see it no differently than other venues where payment must be made first before shipment.

Issues With Return Policies Within The Art Business Model

Not all locations are equal when it comes to what is allowed with an artist establishing their art return policy.  As I described earlier vendors like Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy have their own ways of handling things.

The art business model is unique from other widgets or product models.  It is one thing to accept a loss on a 20 dollar item due to fraud.  It is an altogether different picture when it is hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The complication becomes compounded when the item sold is artwork and is irreplaceable for it being an original work.  Add to this complication the time lost for a complex piece rather than the time lost of an automated machined widget.

Wherever you decide to sell your artwork you need to ensure that the return policy model favors you the artist.  Some third party vendors simply are not suitable for selling artwork.

Keep in mind that while you need the policy to favor you, it should always be fair to the customer.  Any issues which arise, and eventually they will, should be worked out in line with policy but in a fair way.

The artist should never be left with nothing after having their artwork stolen and zero recourse to bring a solution.  The only way to give the greatest assurance to this not happening is to own and control the point of sale for the artwork.

This means your own website, gallery, and ecommerce to support your artwork is required.  Truly it is something to not get lazy about nor take for granted.

Is The Customer Always Right?

No they are not always right.  Reasonable requests are great and I encourage them even if it challenges me.  It makes me a better artist.

Unreasonable requests that blur the line, take advantage of, or manipulate the situation should never be indulged.

There are many reasons why I can tell a client or customer no.  I have rejected commissions for many reasons, yet if I do the reason they hear is that I do not have time.

The real reasons could be for other things I discovered, sensed, or did not like.  Keep a smiling face and do not be afraid to say no if you need to.

On the other hand, a good client or customer I will bend over backwards for.  There have also been unique situations where I shipped my art before it was paid for.

Why would I do this?  I trusted them without ever meeting them.  When you work with enough people you begin to discover qualities that stand out.  Good people are worth investing within.

Policy Exists To Be A Standard Not Always The Rule

If you need to be flexible within any policy, it should be your option or choice to be flexible.  Thus, the policy exists as a standard not a rule set into concrete.

Of the policies where I am the least flexible is found within the art return policy.  This is one area where there should be little compromise.