Pricing Art

Pricing Art:

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This is a really tricky subject but you should price to make a profit.  Take into consideration your costs beyond just your material costs, gas and art show fees. The artist has a lot of overhead and should be compensated for his time and talent.

When setting your prices, a lot depends on a variety of factors such as:

1. Your experience
2. How you value your time
3. Time spent on a specific piece of art
4. Quality of your art
5. Material Costs
6. What the competition charges for similar artwork in your area
7. What your art work has actually sold for in the past
8. If you are more well known, the demand for your work

Some shows are geared for higher priced artwork and with small local shows this may not be true.  Also the show’s customer attendance, demographics and location play a roll.  Different artists have many different theories of what pricing strategy works best and it comes with experience.
Many photographers seem to charge by size of the image and not how difficult or costly the image was to take or time it took to produce. The price can vary based on other factors such as the associated costs of how the photograph is framed or printed on special paper or canvas.

As a photographer, I tend to see what other photographers are charging for their art on their web sites. Many of these photographers are charging two to four times the amount I do for what I consider the same quality of photography. When determining what you are going to charge at an art show, please remember that there is a difference of what people charge on-line and if they are selling at that price.

Propanel art show walls








On the photo, you will notice carpeted Pro Panel walls, large title card labels with easy to see prices and a sign stating which credit cards are accepted. This booth also has a work desk for taking orders. I recommend hanging title cards at least 1 inch from the framed or canvas art work. This prevents the shadow from the above artwork from falling on the title card making it harder to read some of the printed information.

Many painters charge by the square inch but this can vary widely between different artists. Even the same artist may have a different cost per square inch for different sizes such as a higher square inch cost for very small paintings or less per square inch for very large paintings. Also, artist should also not determine prices based on there own personal or emotional attachment to a specific art piece.

For commission work such as in paintings, many recommend charging a larger fee than your normal amount. A commission can be more work and sometimes a pain with some clients and this should be incorporated in your pricing.

When you are selling photography or prints, a customer may ask you if you offer larger sizes. This is a good sign since most customers think art is only offered in the sizes that they can see in your booth. I recommend that you have a printed sheet listing the different sizes that you offer along with prices to show your customer. I have a sheet listing the various enlargement print sizes I offer as well as wrapped canvas sizes. This allows the artist to create custom prints on demand for the customer without the need to carry large sizes in inventory.

Some people feel you must keep your art prices the same everywhere you sell. Other artists may adjust prices to fit different shows or areas were artist costs may be higher.  I feel that you should be flexible. If you have a gallery nearby that represents your art in the area of the art show; then your prices should be the same as the gallery for that art show. The previous advice is my recommendation for the new artist that this article is geared for. For more experience artist that has their art in many galleries and are successfully enough to bring in a steady income from those galleries, then I do not recommend that artist have different prices at art shows or on-line from the type of pricing levels at those galleries.

To me the bottom line is that if your art is not selling; you need to lower your prices to where it will sell at a price you are comfortable with.  If you are selling a lot, you can try to raise your prices until you are losing sales.  You will eventually set a balance that both the artist and customers are happy with. With the economy being poor over the last few years, many people have been buying less art. This can effect what people will currently pay for the same art they may of been happy to pay more for 5 years ago.

I do not recommend lowering your prices to compete with other artists that are really undervaluing their art.  This is a no win situation and you cannot compete on price with someone who does not mind selling for little over the cost of his materials and not based on the total costs of running a business.

Daniel Rozmiarek wrote: “As the artist, if I want customers to give me money in exchange for my art, I don’t get to assign value my work. My customers are in control of valuing my work. My “price” is nothing more than a guess at an amount that I believe somebody else will agree to. I have every right to assign a price higher than that of other artists, but customers have no obligation to purchase.

Fine art is a pure luxury good. It is not a commodity that people need to survive. Every sale of fine art is about the perceived value the customer has for my work, and that customer’s willingness to exchange their cash for my art.
But, the reality is that nearly all potential customers at art shows are willing to pay something between $50-$500 for my work. They set the price. I’m only trying to guess what it is. If I guess too low, I’m not recovering the full value. If I guess too high, I don’t make a sale. When I guess correctly, I make a sale at the best price that customer is willing to offer.”

Additional articles and videos on pricing artwork:

  • Video of painter Skye Taylor describing how he prices his art and other good general advice: Video here




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