Nation’s Largest Student Art Sale Sells 7 Pieces Per Minute, Many of Them Photos

In 1997, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design held an art sale to give student and alumni artists an opportunity to offer their creations to art collectors. They offered around 1,000 pieces by 86 different artists, including prints by photographers. Since then, the MCAD Art Sale has exploded in popularity.

This year the organizers are hoping to sell thousands of artworks by hundreds of artists at a rate of 7 pieces per minute. The sales will add to the $1,875,000 that has been paid out to artists through the sales over the years.

Boing Boing writes that the environment is chaotic as everyone rushes to snatch up the best art:

When the opening bell rings, the mad rush begins and people literally grab the art right off the walls […] This isn’t just a Minneapolis thing though. For years, the annual MCAD Art Sale has been a magnet for collectors and art lovers from around the country seeking killer deals on work by emerging artists. No online sales though — you just gotta be there.

Photographs are among the most popular artworks sold through the sale. The average price for pieces is around $100, and there’s a $1,500 maximum for price tags attached to works. 80% of the money generated through the sale goes to the artists themselves.

Mary Abbe at the StarTribune writes that some students are able to pay for their education entirely through the art sale:

“I had a few years where I did 40 pieces and they sold in the first half-hour,” said Samantha French, a 2005 MCAD graduate. She began working the sale her freshman year and continued for five years after graduation, the maximum that alumni are allowed to participate.

At her peak, French earned enough to cover the cost of a year of college with sales of her colorful images of swimmers cavorting in sunny pools or splashing in the shimmering waters of Gull Lake near Nisswa, where she grew up.

This year’s sale will be held from this Thursday to this Saturday. Getting in on the first day costs $150, but you’ll have first dibs on the art. Wait a day and you’ll only have to pay $20-$25 to get in. There is no admissions fee on the third day, but you’ll be picking through the leftovers after all the other art collectors have had their fill.

MCAD Art Sale [Minneapolis College of Art and Design]

Image credits: Photographs by Minneapolis College of Art and Design