Pricing Your Art

The blank canvas is the bane of artists since the number of options seems limitless, but worse is to come on completing the work. After putting the final touches to your work, you are presented with the equally open ended problem of what price to give it. For the inexperienced artist it can seem impossible to fix a price, so they ending up making wild guesses (almost always too high) and then wonder why their art is not selling.

The first thing to understand is that the price of art is simply the highest amount that someone is willing to pay for it. However, the second thing to understand is that only people who see it can pay for it. The price is circumscribed by the wallets of those who view it, hence the importance of having your work seen by as many people as possible.

Why price at all?

Many artists refuse to put fixed prices on their art, but they lose sales because of it. If you keep an open studio where people can enter and browse your work it is imperative that every piece hanging on the walls has a price tag on it.

People hate to talk about money, especially where art is concerned, so many buyers will choose to walk out rather than face the indignity of asking how much a piece costs. If they do have the courage to ask and the price is not written somewhere, they will assume you are making it up based on how rich they look.

Creating a baseline

So where do you begin in setting a price? The first step is to work out what your minimum monthly income is. Be realistic about this and always estimate high. Keep this figure in mind at all times as it will act as a deterrent for unrealistically low prices.

A preliminary price

Next, add up the cost of producing the art work you’re trying to price, including all expenses. Then add up the total amount of time spent on the work and multiply it by a sensible hourly rate – 20dollars an hour should be a minimum. Simply adding these two figures together will give you a fairly sensible estimate for a price. Dividing your minimum monthly income by the price of this work will tell you how many pieces you should be aiming to produce a month to keep you going.

Better methods

The best way to price work is to base it upon previous sales, hence the importance of keeping the catalogue of your work we discussed last month. The more you sell, the more you will get a feel for what your work is worth. You should compare your prices with those of other local artists and those on the Art eXposed website, but remember to take into account their experience and reputation.

Another method is to talk to art consultants and galleries. Galleries will not display your work at unrealistic prices, but keep in mind that visiting them without any idea as to the value of your work will mark you out as an amateur.

Maintaining and raising prices

Always maintain consistent prices. Inconsistency shows you are unsure of the value of your work. If you cannot bear to part with a work for a low price then keep it hanging in your studio without a price tag, and if anyone asks about it let them make you an offer. On the whole, larger works should be valued higher than smaller ones. This may seem arbitrary, but it is the law of the market.

You should only consider raising the prices of your work: after you have achieved respectable sales in your current price range for at least six months; if a gallery tells you that your prices are too low; or if you have changed your output significantly to justify such a change.

Final tip

Make sure to keep track of your sales in your catalogue, and always keep some cheaper works on hand for any impulse buyers you happen to meet.