Bartering my artwork

Twice in the last couple weeks I’ve traded my artwork for other things I would have otherwise paid money for. I’ve read suggestions in the past to this effect, that artists — when feeling the financial pinch — trade their work for necessities.

I wasn’t in such a pinch that this was absolutely necessary, but I’m glad it panned out as it did. In the first instance I traded my neighbor, who had suggested he might buy a work of mine anyway, for a set of wheels for my old bike. I’d sold my newer bike to a friend that week and had planned to use the proceeds to purchase a new set of wheels from a catalog. Bartering allowed me to keep the money from the sale of the bike (which in the end will go towards new carpet in a bedroom as we try and sell our house). The neighbor chose an older print that I did in college. He absolutely loved it after I gave him the framed work. The title read “Peace is: Possession of adequate resources,” something I heard once in a sermon. The name of the print spoke volumes to him — to my surprise — as he goes through a bitter divorce.

Yesterday I went with my friend Joel Armstrong to look at some of his artwork to purchase as Christmas gifts. After I pilfered two boxes of his most recent work, he asked if we could trade. I had made it clear I intended to pay him a fair price for the pieces, but he made it equally clear he wanted to trade. Most of my pieces are of similar worth, so I let him choose. He chose well, taking home a work titled “Ascension II:”


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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