Friday, January 09, 2009

The Bair Witch project

Every now and again, I'm approached by another comic art collector who wants to trade for an artwork that I own. I decline most of these offers for two reasons.

First, I treasure the art in my collection — after all, that's why I've collected it — and am not especially interested in parting with most of it.

Second, most of the trades I'm offered amount to what I like to call "sports talk trades" — that is, trades like those often proposed by callers to sports talk radio: "I think the Giants should trade two broken-down minor leaguers and a fungo bat to the Yankees for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter."

This is the story of a good trade.

Not long ago, I received an e-mail from a fellow collector whom I'm call Robert. (Mostly because that's his name.) Robert had been browsing my online gallery, checking out a handful of pieces I had listed for sale. Robert also attached a scan of the piece you see above, a striking drawing of one of my favorite heroines — Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch — drawn in ink by the talented Michael Bair.

Robert asked whether I might be interested in acquiring his Bair Witch. Being, as are many of us these days, short on funds, I asked Robert whether he might entertain a trade. He was amenable, so I gave him a list of "untouchable" items in my gallery and asked him to select fair value from the rest. After a series of cordial exchanges about various combinations of artworks, I accepted Robert's final offer, and we made our deal.

We each shipped our portion of the bargain the following day. Both packages arrived safely ("there's no reason to be nervous; you can trust the Postal Service"), and we were each pleased with the art we received. Robert got three small pieces by a favorite artist who is well represented in my collection, plus another, larger item by an up-and-coming artist.

I got the Bair Witch.

Why was this a good trade? For several reasons:
  1. Both parties understood the value of the items involved. I've bought a couple of pieces of Michael Bair's work, and have bid unsuccessfully on several others, so I know what price his work commands on the open market. I appreciated the fact that I was going to have to put together a package of items to equal the value of Robert's Scarlet Witch. At the same time, all of Robert's proposals met the standard of fair value — he didn't attempt to hold me up just because I expressed interest.

  2. Both parties were flexible. In the end, I gave up one piece that had originally been on my "untouchable" list, and another piece that I was willing to include, but would gladly have kept. For his part, Robert respected my limits, and never pushed to get something that I said that I definitely didn't want to trade. We both sacrificed a little, but at a level that allowed us both to be happy with the end result.

  3. The conversation remained cordial and professional at every juncture. More than once, I've ended a negotiation when the other party became (in my opinion, which in this circumstance is the only one that matters) unpleasant to deal with. Hey, it's my art — I've worked hard for the money that paid for it. I'm not going to watch it go to someone who's nasty to me.
Thanks to Robert for an excellent trade. Thanks also to the great Bair for lending his creative genius to the piece that started the ball rolling.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Shelli offered these pearls of wisdom...

That's really cool, both the art and the deal.

8:17 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Shelli: Thanks -- clearly, I agree! :)

1:18 PM  

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