Have you been asked to just GIVE someone artwork?


Contributing Member
I'm a bit confused. I gift some of my artworks reasonably often, usually to folk who I know appreciate my work, family or friends etc. The piece is often something I know they will enjoy or reminds them of something. A scene from my son's hiking, a favourite surf beach to a family member, a local mountain scene to an old friend from where he lived locally..... and so on. They are always framed or when sent away, are packed especially due to the delicate pastel work. Some of you have even seen these works here on CreativeSpark.
Over the past weeks, I have been doing some pleinair around the local village and area, and often get passerby's looking over my shoulder etc. A number of folk in the village know I paint, and I have received some nice compliments. One chap often complimented me, but recently I was stumped when he came up and asked directly - " Can you do one for me, and sign it , "For XXXX from Murray". No mention of any compensation, eg some fish, work, money etc etc , the usual barter around here. I was a bit taken aback and passed it off as a "maybe....." and carried on painting. Then the other day, he mentioned to my other half, that it would be a "nice friendly neighbourly thing to give him a painting".
It's not like I am averse to gifting work, but this feels off. I value my work, cost of materials and the time it has taken to get to where I am.
I am not openly selling my work, but a freebie "just because they asked", seems like "they like it but don't value it". Does that make sense?
I'm tempted to just suggest a barter, but I'm also a little confused as to what I am, an "artist" a "hobbist" or simply naive.
What would you do and what's your take on the situation?
I would feel weird about this too, Murray. Who of us gets to ask for things we like and expect them to be given to us? My original art collection would be much larger! It seems like this person has no clue about the time and energy you put into each of your paintings. It might be amusing to print up a price list for your work according to various sizes and cheerfully present him with it the next time you see him. "I'm so happy you're interested in my work. Let me know if you'd like one I've already done or if you'd like to commission something in particular. Artists usually charge extra for commissions but if it's a local scene I'd enjoy painting I'll let you have it for the regular price."
Yea he sounds like the type who doesn’t know how much work is put into painting, especially plein air work. I’ve had a lot of interesting interactions like this, and sometimes if I think the person is exhibiting weird behavior I’ll just let them know how much I sell my pieces for. For instance, in the winter I was painting a snow plow truck parked in the shadows of a house and the snowy streets behind them were all lit up, it was a nice warm winter day. A guy pulls up and starts telling me about his garden and how I need to come paint it at some live gardening event, but that I need to do a really good job (unlike the painting I was already doing lol- which was a good piece haha). I just told him it was going to be $2,000 and he was all like, oh I didn’t know you would like to be paid haha. Tat sent him packing. And on the way out he called me amigo.
So I try to use these scenarios as a time to educate the public. I also let them know that there are less expensive options out there, because to be honest I get tired of hearing about everyone’s commission ideas hahaha.
I have learned to tell them right up front what I charge for the size and subject they are interested and stating different sizes gives them the option of going a little cheaper but I know how you feel on being asked to give an artwork. I give away a lot of paintings, quite often I paint a child just because they are especially cute and when I do, I gift it to the parent. I had a gal come and ask if I would paint a wedding portrait of her and her husband. We talked it over and I told her what I would charge. She said, "Oh, if I have to pay for it, I don't think I want it."
I would feel exactly the same! You may feel the need to educate him on the real price of your paintings.
Most people have no idea what my paintings sell for - or what it takes to do a commission.
I am in the middle of a portrait project of painting local people. One participant, who I have painted, emailed me recently asking did I do commissions. She and her brother wanted a portrait of their mother- they had a nice photo of her from a family wedding. So I replied with a detailed description of my process- how I like to take my own photos, but failing that, I need a high-res photo to work from. Then a range of prices. Have not heard back! Oh well.
Hi folks. Thanks for the feedback. I think I will let it go for now, unless he tries again, and i suspect he will.... Then i will suggest a quid pro quo, even a couple of bottles of Rakia would work. 😁 It's the principle mostly, set against the "something for nothing" mindset here.
This was the pleinair he saw of the village harbour. I later did a repeat mountain view from near the house to replace one i actually did gift and that's when he asked....

Murray, if he mentions anything about hoping that your house doesn't burn down with your paintings inside, you'll know it's a protection racket....
Then the other day, he mentioned to my other half, that it would be a "nice friendly neighbourly thing to give him a painting".
I'm really glad you like my paintings. Here's my price list if you are interested.
"Because that's more fun for Me!" :)
An experiment was done to see which waitresses get more tips - the smiley ones, or the dour ones. Surprisingly (to me) the dour ones got significantly more tips. The theory was that the bigger tip might help cheer the dour one up, whereas the happy ones were doing okay without it.

So the takeaway is - when you paint - don't let 'em catch you smiling.
I personally would feel insulted, but I mostly would think this guy was an obnoxious idiot with a sense of entitlement. I probably would have semi-ignored him with a laugh. "You're funny." If he said it would be the neighborly thing to do, I might tell him to blow it out his ass or at least let him know the neighborly thing to do is to support his local artist by compensating me. "I don't work for free, especially for people I don't even know." Or, "Maybe I'll give you a neighbor discount, but I don't do this without compensation. (Sorry/not sorry.)"

Don't let that kind of interaction make you doubt who you are! You are a FANTASTIC artist!!!! You deserve to be treated as such, always. You call the shots whether you sell a lot, a little, choose to gift your work, are doing it for the joy of making it, or anything otherwise. Don't be fooled by idiots that know nothing about art, artists, or people. He has zero people skills, or tact.
.What would you do and what's your take on the situation?
I'd give the raised eyebrow, and remind him, "You do realize that you get what you pay for, don't you?" If he was more insistent, I'd try "Money talks, B.S. walks. Take a hike."
He is showing you that he is unwilling to exchange value for value; he does not truly value you, your time, nor your effort, and is therefore unworthy of any of them.

I'm not grumpy, I am old enough to speak my mind!
I get you, Murray. Making art takes a lot of time and hard work, and it can be difficult to watch someone take advantage of that. It might be better to set boundaries before you start creating art for anyone. It is important to let people know that you are providing a service or for commission-based art (if you don't like it to be so pricey and business-like level) and need to be compensated fairly for it. If someone requests art, make sure you agree on a price before you get started or at least a minimum amount of compensation. Also, don’t hesitate to suggest a payment plan if the requester can’t afford the entire amount at once (but maybe this can be considered for those you can trust). Finally, It's important we have fun while making art and if someone take advantage of you, remember that you have the power to say no and protect your work.