What does the red dot mean?

"Faros" by Heidi Hjort, Finland 2016Red dots scattered around the walls of an art gallery. What do they really mean?

To artists the beloved red dots are so highly desired, that we can hardly imagine a life without them. Nevertheless, to people who don’t visit art exhibitions that often their meaning may not be that obvious.

The piece has been sold
If you see a red dot underneath a painting in an art exhibition, it means the painting has already been sold. The artwork still remains on display in the exhibition space until the exhibition is over. Removing the artwork from an ongoing exhibition would leave an awkward empty space on the wall.

Don’t do this
If a buyer is not 100% sure that he is going to buy the painting, a red dot is the wrong way to go. This is because a red dot signals the painting is not available and keeps other potential customers from even considering buying the painting. This is highly unfair to the artist as well as to potential buyers. It’s an absolute no no.

After the show
When the exhibition is over, the new owner can pick up the painting from the exhibition space and bring it to his home. The payment is usually taken care of at this point. If there is no commission fee for the gallery involved, the artist and the buyer can agree on when and how the payment will be done.

Copyright remains with the artist
The copyright of the painting remains with the artist even after the purchase. This means the artist can use images of the painting and make reproductions, such as prints or postcards and put them up for sale. The new owner is not allowed to reproduce the painting in any way without the written consent of the artist.

A red dot is a *happy dance*
In addition to the more technical meaning of the red dot which I already described, there is another truly wonderful dimension to it. A dimension full of feelings. The red dot holds all the happiness of the new owner, who loved the piece so much that he was willing to invest in it, to be able to bring it to his home.

To the artist the red dot symbolizes shear happiness. It means that the painting was speaking to another persons feelings so strongly that he wanted to bring it to his home, to live with it for the rest of his life. Buying a painting is not like buying grocery. A painting is a luxury product, an investment of the heart.

To the artist, the red dot also means that the buyer showed enough trust and belief in the artist, that he was willing to make the investment. It means the painting has found a new home and will be enjoyed by its owner for a long long time. Maybe for the rest of his life. Of course the economical compensation is very valuable for the artist, but it is really only part of the story.

A red dot makes the artist want to do a happy dance. Preferably on a table 😉

The painting “Faros” can be seen in the exhibition “From Vaasa with Love” in Ateljé Torni (Pitkäkatu 66, Vaasa Finland) 2.8-28.8.2016. The painting was sold but remains on display until the exhibition is over. 

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