How to Price your Artwork
One of the most wonderful aspects of being an artist is the process of putting your thoughts, images, words, emotions into the creation of your art. Art allows people the ability to express themselves in a different way than just using words that most of the time cannot truly express how a person feels about any given situation. Piece by piece, work after work, an artist creates art others will connect with and want to display in their home.
Selling your artwork is a very rewarding experience and lets you know your audience can and is relating to your message. An art collector, art lover or an art appreciator wants to display your work for their family and friends to see but if you do not price your work appropriately, your work will not be bought by the admirers of your work and will sit in storage unseen to the world.
So the question begs, how do you price your art?
Let’s Start With How To Not Price Your Work
Some artists have a habit of pricing their work based on emotion, not logic and as we all should be aware of, making business decisions with your emotions is not the best practice. Pricing your artwork based on emotions looks arbitrary to buyers and if a prospective buyer cannot understand your logic behind your pricing, they may pass on the opportunity of buying any of your pieces. Just because the prices make sense in your head, the emotional attachment you have towards your work is not how your artwork should be priced. If there is not a reasonable logic of your pricing that buyers can understand, buyers will pass. The price of your artwork reflects your reputation in the art world much more than what your art looks like or how you feel about it.
Artwork Pricing Strategies
There are many ways artists can price their work. The strategy you use to price your artwork depends on what kind of art you are selling, the stage you are in your career, the medium, the size, the piece, and of course what your audience is willing to pay. The value of anything is what a buyer is willing to pay for the item which means, in order to sell your work, you must be able to show the logic behind your pricing and convince your audience your prices are fair and reasonable. Below are the 3 several ways you can price your work.
Strategy #1 - Research Similar Artists To Find Comparables
Researching the market to find similar artists to you is similar to how a Real Estate Agent researches the market to find similar properties to a property they are going to sale. There are characteristics you want to look for which are similar size, medium, weight, subject matter, colors, the time it takes you to make the piece, when it was made, what type of art it is (conceptual, political, abstract, etc.), geographic location, and who your audience is. One of the most important aspects in determining the price of your work when comparing it to others is the amount of time you have been creating art and the recognition you have received for your artwork versus the comparable artists. If you create work similar to Yayoi Kusana who is recognized and revered worldwide, has art displayed in renowned museums and artworks that sell for millions of dollars, but you are just starting out, you cannot price your work the same as Yayoi Kusana because you do not have the notoriety within the art world to demand the same price tags. Art collectors are willing to spend money on art but they also want to make sure the art they purchase is valued at the price they purchase the work for. Remember the key to pricing your art is setting logical and reasonable prices with credibility and logic behind it.
To find similar artists to you, visit galleries, open studios, research online, and other avenues to see their work in person. When you are able to see their work in person, it allows you to truly understand why they are able to charge what they do because you can see the details of the work up close. Pay most attention to the artists and their prices in your market.
Strategy #2 – The Formula Pricing
If you are just starting to sell your art, one of the easiest ways to price your work is to use a simple formula based on time, labor, and cost of materials. When you are first starting out, it is very important to not undersell your work. You always want to include your time and labor when you determining a price for your artwork because you took your time in creating your artwork and deserve to be compensated for your time. It is a bonus you actually like doing the work! A great starting hourly wage to pay yourself is $20 per hour. Keep in mind that if you run your numbers using the formula, if your artwork is more expensive than the comparables you found within your market, you may have to pay yourself less, but do not go lower than $15 an hour.
When calculating the price of materials, be sure to include the canvas, paints, frame, paper, ink, etc. and you can also include any exhibit entry fees. As you gain more sales, be sure to include your annual business costs like studio space, website hosting, marketing costs, etc. In order to make money selling your art, every penny you spend on your business needs to be calculated and reported so when you sell your art, you are able to create a sustainable income off your creations.
Formula Pricing Example:
Hourly wage -$20.00
Hours of work - 20
Cost of materials - $100.00
20x20=400 + 100= $500
For the more established artists, you can use a formula as well but the parameters will change. This is a formula I learned from the professional artist Lori Woodward.
1. Multiply the painting’s width by its length to arrive at the total size, in square inches. Then multiply that number by a set dollar amount that’s appropriate for the comparables within your market and your reputation. A beginner would start at $3, while a more established artist can price themselves at $6.
2. Calculate the cost of materials- frame, canvas, paints, etc. It is a smart idea to double this cost when selling at galleries so you make your money back on the materials
3. Add your price per square inch with the cost of materials to determine the total price of your work
A painting with a width of 18 inches, a length of 24 inches, a square inch multiplier of $4, and a material cost of $100:
(18 in × 24 in) = 432 square inches
432 square inches × $4 = $1,728
Rounded to $1,700
$100 × 2 = $200
$1700 + $200 = $1,900
Strategy #3 - Pricing Your Artwork For Galleries
The big moment has come! You have been invited to exhibit at a gallery for a solo show, so how do you price your artwork? Gallery managers have a responsibility to understand the market for the particular art they represent and know what their clientele likes to buy which means they can be a great resource for helping you price your work. Typically, if you are showing in a high-profile gallery, you will double your prices but this does not mean you will do this for all galleries. Where you exhibit your work plays into the equation of how much you will price your work; the main key is you must still make money when you sell your art and the price must be fair and reasonable. Experienced art collectors will know when work is being over-priced so it is important that you have a genuine understanding of the market you are selling in. For example, prices will be different in Phoenix than in New York City because of the demand and what the clientele is willing to spend.
When you show in a gallery, galleries will take up to 50% commission for exhibiting and helping you sell your work, while you get the other half. New artists typically will sell work in a gallery anywhere form $1,500 to $5,000 range. Galleries are a great way to build your reputation and improve your credentials within the art world. When a gallery chooses to show your artwork in their space, show them respect by increasing your prices to match their prices anywhere you sell your artwork. Any gallery would not be pleased to find out, you are making your artwork available for a lower price when they took the time to showcase, market, and sell your work to their collectors and to a wider audience.
When and How to Raise Your Prices
You artwork has been selling consistently for at least 6 -12 months, you are selling 75% of your artwork, and your reputation is growing which means it is time to increase your prices. When you work starts selling consistently, increase your prices anywhere from 10-25% and keep in mind that anytime you increase your prices, there must be a logical reasoning behind the price. Start by raising your prices by 10% as you consistently sell your work and closer to 25% when you have achieved a career milestone such as a prestigious award or museum exhibition. The key to increasing your prices is not increasing them so much you out price how much your base clientele can afford. Your fans have allowed you to have a career of creating art and because of their support, you are able to have a consistent income from your artwork, so always remember who has helped you to achieve your goals.
If you are you an artist who has a desire to create a business selling your art, email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to start today.