You’ve poured your heart, soul, and perhaps a few tears into your work – and now you’re struggling with how to price your art. What should you charge?
It’s a question almost every artist has to grapple with. Learning how to price your art and assign value to your creativity can be tricky.
For starters, you don’t want to charge too little and leave money on the table. But you also don’t want to price your art too steeply and risk gathering cobwebs in your studio.
So how do you find that sweet spot? You want your art to find a good home but you also want to feel good about the monetary compensation you receive in return.
Today I wanted to share with you how to price your art fairly for both you and your buyers.
Take some time to understand where your art fits inside the market
When figuring out how to price your art, it’s best to start by looking at the art market. Where does your art fit in?
The art market is no different to any other marketplace where goods and services are sold. How you price your art will likely be influenced by how much your particular market believes your art to be worth.
I’ll give you a non-art example of how the marketplace may dictate your pricing. Let’s say you want to sell your house. It’s a beautiful, modern 4 bedroom home located in Los Angeles. Now based on the current housing market, you would likely to be able to sell that home for somewhere between 1 and 2 million dollars.
But let’s say you had the exact same home located in Virginia. Based on location alone, you’d likely only get around 500 thousand dollars. See how the market dictates the price? Same house, just a different geographical location.
Moving back to the art market, when figuring out how to price your art you need to measure it against certain art criteria. That criteria should include; your professional experience, your medium, your subject matter, your geographical location, the size of the work, the collections your work is included in, and who is in your audience.
It’s crucial that before getting too attached to one price point, you take some time to get to know your market. Find similar art made by artists in the same market with similar experience and credentials and look at what they’re charging. This will give you a good baseline figure when you price your art.
You can research similar artists online or better yet, visit galleries or studios and view the art in person. Look at what price sells where and what price doesn’t. Try to figure out why. Gathering this kind of information can be invaluable when pricing art.
Don’t shortchange yourself or your work
One of my favorite stories came from an artist who complained that people always asked how long it took him to create each piece. He said, “Three hours and 35 years.” So yes, your experience counts.
Consider what your ideal hourly wage would be if someone was paying you a salary to make art (don’t forget to factor in tax).
Also consider the price of the materials, including shipping and framing if applicable. The price of your art should accurately reflect the time and money that you’ve put into the piece. You may not be able to make much of a profit when you’re just starting but you never want to lose money.
There’s no use pulling a price out of thin air just to sell your art, only to find out you’ve made pennies per hour when you do the calculations. But again, that hourly wage must be based on your experience and your market too.
Try not to let emotions rule your pricing
Easier said than done, am I right? It’s difficult to figure out how to price your art when you’ve poured everything into a piece and you feel particularly attached to it. It can feel like putting a price on one of your children!
With all of your time and creative energy invested into your work, it’s only natural to feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. And why shouldn’t you?
But emotion-based pricing based on personal value likely won’t do you any favors. When pricing your art you need to look at your work a little more objectively. Consider the physical attributes, not the subjective qualities.
And if a certain piece feels incredibly meaningful to you? Consider not selling it at all! Instead keep it for your personal collection.
Have consistent pricing no matter where you sell your art
If your work is selling in a gallery for one price and you’re selling art from your studio cheaper, you could land yourself in some hot water. Galleries don’t take kindly to learning that you’re selling elsewhere at a cheaper price. They could even drop you for it.
Worse still, if word gets out to other galleries they may feel less inclined to show your work. Reputation matters.
It’s best to have consistent pricing no matter where you’re selling your art. This way buyers can purchase wherever they wish, and you’ll maintain positive relationships with the galleries you partner with.
Be confident when stating your art price and stand by it
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the marketplace or a seasoned professional, you want to have confidence in your art prices. If you’re not confident, potential buyers will sense that pretty quickly. And for the love of all things beautiful, never ask a client what they want to pay. This is your job, not theirs.
Lowering your prices just to get a sale may leave you feeling resentful, especially when you know deep down that your art is worth more.
But when you take the time to learn how to price your art fairly, you’ll be able to back your prices more confidently.
Staying firm and confident in your pricing will help you bring home the compensation you deserve.
Other things to keep in mind
There are people out there who absolutely adore your work but simply can’t afford to buy it. It’s worth having some more affordable options for those on a budget. Consider selling smaller paintings or prints of your work as a budget friendly option.
You never know who might turn out to be your biggest fan. So the more art you sell, the more chances new people have to see it. Getting your work and your name out there will only lead to increased exposure and hopefully an increase in sales too!
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