Welcome to the second installment of the “Got Magic Art?” Series here on OMA.
Last week we covered the basics of where to find art. This week we will delve into the process of what to do once you have found it; dealing with the artist or a private collector.
Dealing with Artists
Every artist is different. Every interaction and communication will have different flavors depending on the artist and should be handled accordingly. Some artists are able to respond quickly to requests for information and are very prompt in their shipping of purchased pieces, while others may take more time. Some artists already have a list of available pieces up to date and available, while some may have had their pieces in storage for 10+ years and will require more lead time. The one common factor that I have run into is that every artist I have dealt with has been honest and trustworthy, even if sometimes it took a while to complete the transaction or they forget they had a piece that is found and sold later.
Remember the advice from last week. Patience and Persistance.
Those are the key virtues when purchasing art directly from the artist.
Going into the deal, you have to understand that much of this art was done years ago, over two decades in some cases. Many of the artists are no longer doing art for the game and are more concerned with their current projects. It may not be that they don’t want to sell their Magic art when they take a long time to respond, it is more likely that they are focusing on other ventures and trying to find more paying work.
The life of a commercial illustrator (most Magic artists work freelance) is one spent in search of finding more assignments to keep the bills paid. While they may have art available for sale, you have to realize that their priority is going to be on current and future projects, so be willing to give them leeway and avoid pressuring them. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t remind them every so often, that is where the persistence factors in. I typically wait about 2 weeks to a month before reaching out to the artists if I don’t receive a response. That has worked well so far and should serve you well as a guideline.
Once you have obtained the list of available pieces, then you have to start securing the purchase. The artist will typically list a price for the pieces (in my experience it is rare to have them ask you to make an offer) and then you have a decision to make. If you are only buying a single piece, you should not expect much leeway in getting a discount (I will go more in depth on pricing in a future article).
If you can’t afford the asking price for a piece that means a lot to you, be honest with the artist. Let them know how much you appreciate their work on the piece and how much you can afford. Don’t forget to ask them about a payment plan. Many artists are willing to accept payment plans, some have even taken the time to formalize the process with guidelines and rules to ensure both parties get what they desire. By spacing the payments out over 3-6 months you can budget your money to ensure that you end up with your favorite piece.
Most artists will offer a discount when you are purchasing multiple pieces. Typically, the more pieces you buy, the steeper the discount, though it usually maxes out around 25%. Be mindful that some artists do not offer discounts on their pieces whatsoever, so don’t always expect one. Asking about multiple piece discounts ahead of time can clear the air and ensure you are not going to be insulting them with a lower than expected offer.
Once you have agreed on a price and funds have changed hands, you need to engage your patience again as sometimes it can take months for the piece to arrive. Make sure you keep in contact with the artist, weekly contact is recommended, but you have to remember that their first priority is going to be their current projects. Selling art is rarely the main source of income for a Magic artist, so understand that other things may take priority from time to time. So far, my patience has paid off with every artist I have dealt with and all of the other collectors I have spoken with share the same stories. Sometimes it may take 6 months for a piece to arrive, but the artists deliver eventually.
Dealing with Private Collectors
When dealing with Private Collectors, you are going to need two different approaches depending on if they are actively looking to sell their art. While there are very few “dealers” of Magic originals, there are a few individuals with multiple pieces listed as for sale on OMA, ebay and other locations. Most interactions with those that are actively trying to sell pieces can be handled as with any other typical negotiation. They will have an asking price, you are free to make counter offers and then you can go from there.
Since they are actively advertising the pieces as available, don’t feel bashful about making an offer. In addition, the trend has been for significant markups over and above the price paid for the piece to be included in the asking price. While not every seller will be willing to accept the 50% discounts that have been seen on recent ebay Best Offer auctions, using it as a starting point is not unreasonable. If they refuse to budge on price and it is more than you are willing to pay, move on.
The only caveat I would add to asking for a discount from a private collector is time critical sales. Every once in a while, bills will come due or a life event pops up that induces a collector to unload pieces at a significant discount. Generally these will not be listed ebay and you will only find out about it through word of mouth. Since these are time critical offerings and usually discounted 30-50% below market value, don’t bother with trying to haggle. Pay the asking price and earn some Art karma for helping a fellow collector out.
Making offers and securing discounts may work for those actively selling their art, but may be counterproductive when approaching others.
While each collector is different, here is my perspective on inquiries about art that I have not listed for sale:
Generally, I don’t mind it when people ask me if a certain piece displayed on my OMA gallery is for sale. Most of them aren’t, I use my Marketplace gallery to display the art I’m looking to sell, but I am not harmed in the asking as long as it is not malicious or incessant. There are significant pieces in my collection that I have considered moving in the past, and will likely consider again in the future.
If the initial request about a piece being available is answered in the negative, status check-ups are justifiable, but try to keep it to once every 6 months or so. The best approach is simply to start a dialogue with the other collector, state your interest in the piece and then just build the relationship. In the short time since I started OMA and begun actively collecting art again, I have already built up several such relationships and they would be the first people I checked with if I did decide to move my art.
The key to dealing with collectors is to be friendly, build a rapport and one day something unexpected may happen. These pieces are not for sale for a reason. The owners likely have significant attachment to the art or the card and may never sell it. Getting upset or being rude about it simply ensures that you will never be considered if they do decide to move the piece in the future.
Hopefully this gives you some guidance on dealing with artists and collectors and assists you in your efforts to collect Original Magic Art.
Next week, we will be taking a look at collecting Original Sketches. See you then!