The Back-Scratcher’s Art Buyers Club

By Manjula Padmanabhan in Art Business Advice > Selling Art Online

Artists like to feel that their work is out in the world, in homes and offices, being looked at, being enjoyed—being criticized even—so long as it’s out there.

Earning a living from it is great too, of course, but it’s not always easy to get started. Friends and family are often very supportive, yet most of us want to reach beyond the circle of familiarity.

The problem is, anyone who has had a real-world gallery show knows the stomach-clenching sense of uncertainty, painful exposure and sometimes rejection that accompanies a gallery show. And the indifference. Sometimes, even when a show is successful financially, there are those hours of just sitting alone in a gallery, with only the slight buzzing of the lights as company.

Of course, if you try to sell your work online, the tension of sitting in a space surrounded by one’s precious work is reduced to zero, but there’s a different kind of dismal fear—the electronic universe is absolutely teeming with traffic and, oh dear. . . it’s all going somewhere else.

So, I came up with the kernel of an idea. I call it the “Back-Scratchers Art Buyers’ Club” because, well, it’d be a group of us helping each other.

Here’s the idea:

1. A number of artists (organized by EmptyEasel, perhaps) would agree to belong to the club. The only requirement is that each artist’s work must be available as prints, within an agreed-upon price range. I’d suggest a price range under $25.

One of my unframed digital prints at ImageKind is $19 before shipping fees, so in my opinion, that price range should work, but we can figure that out as a group. Regardless of the actual limit, all participating artists MUST agree to a price ceiling for these transactions and it would need to be low.

2. EE would compile and share the list of artists each month, so everyone participating could look up one anothers’ online galleries. And here’s the key part of this idea: every month, artists within the group would pair off and buy ONE print from each other.

So, to be clear: every artist in the Back-Scratcher’s Art Buyers club would spend less than $25 each month to own a print from another artist. Each artist would also be guaranteed to SELL a print, which would be owned by another artist within the club.

3. Once a piece has been purchased as part of this reciprocal agreement, it cannot be bought again by another club member for a specific length of time. Let’s say 6 months, or perhaps a year. This ensures that different artwork is being purchased and appreciated from each artist.

4. As prints are sold each month, EmptyEasel (or maybe Foliotwist, since this is more up their alley) would set up a gallery showcasing those pieces. This would offer extra exposure for those works of art, and hopefully attract a larger group of buyers outside of the Back-Scratcher’s Art Buyer’s Club.

5. To belabor the point, none of the participating artists will “make a profit” directly from the scheme, because we will each be spending around the same sum of money each month buying one anothers’ work. BUT. . . we will get to own new pieces of art, and gain awareness of each others’ work. The sales (reciprocal as they are) will still be good for morale.

Plus, with the corresponding gallery of “sold work” we’ll all get more exposure, resulting (hopefully) in further sales to regular art-lovers, gallery visitors, whoever. Perhaps I should also mention that anyone inside the club can choose to buy additional artwork at any time. There’s no limit in that regard.

So that’s the idea. . . are you interested?

If so, let’s talk about it!

Here’s a quick survey with just a few questions to see if this is something that artists might want to be a part of. If you have 10 seconds, take the survey and let me know what you think!

For more information about Manjula Padmanabhan, or to take a look at her artwork, please visit


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