Artist and their pricing – its a love hate relationship. The task of pricing your artwork can make one feel all sorts of emotions from self-doubt to amazement. I’m always in a confused loop and ask myself:
Am I charging too little/too much?
Should I charge by how many hours I worked on it or by size or by technique?
I spent more time doing this one, should I be charging more?
After some research, I think I found out some basic guidelines for pricing your artwork.
Know the market
Find artists who work in similar medium as you. Look at the dimensions, their experience (prizes, exhibitions, etc.) and their prices for originals and reproductions. Start with online auction sites like Saatchi Art, Fine Art America as general guidelines. Try to also look for niche art market sites – sculptures, abstracts etc.
Common Pricing Formulas
Materials + Labour + Packaging = Cost x 2 / 3 = Retail
Labour is usually hourly rate x time creating. Set a reasonable hourly rate or day rate for your work. Charge at least minimum wage if you don’t feel you are worth more than that. Always use market prices as a benchmark. If you are priced too high, you may need to set a lower hourly rate.
b. Square Inch:
Artwork size x Dollar Rate + Material Costs/Extra Costs = Price
Calculate the size of your work in inches (length x width). For example 8″ x 10″ is 80 square inches. Multiply the size in square inches with a dollar rate, ($1, $2 or $3 based on the comparable artists). At $2 a square inch, an 8″ x 10″ is valued at $160. Add your material costs, framing, any commissions, payment fees (transactions fees based on how you receive payment). Let’s say your extra costs tally up to $80. Your price should be $250. How does that compare to other artists in your niche? Let the market dictate what your dollar rate should be.
c. Linear Inches
Width (inches) + Height (inches) = Linear Inches X Multiplier = Price
For an 8″ x 10″ artwork, the linear inches is 18. If you price your multiplier at $10, your price will be $180. At $15, you can set price to $270. Always let comparable artists prices help you choose your multipliers.
Be consistent in all your artworks. Stick with one formula and use it all for all your artworks. A buyer would appreciate that they are being charged fairly based on artwork size and market values.
Pricing Your Artwork Considerations
Set consistent prices per size. Larger pieces should be priced higher than your smaller pieces. While some smaller pieces are more intricate and take longer for me to finish. People buy from me because its made by me and it connected with them. It’s also taught me to focus more of my time on larger pieces and offer different size artworks. Work smarter not harder.
Don’t overprice or underprice yourself. Its easier to raise your prices after you make consistent sales than to lower sales. Don’t make yourself look cheap either by pricing your original the same value as a reproduction from a similar artist.
Consider your output. Are you an artist who creates new pieces every week or only a few a year? The work of an artist who is constantly creating new pieces will be valued less than a similar artist who only creates one a year.
Keep sales records or three comparable artists price examples. Be prepared to justify your pricing to other art professionals. Having this kind of record indicates you know your value well.
When To Raise Your Prices
Consider raising your prices 10 to 15% if you:
a. Had consistent sales over last 3 months
b. Sold over 5 pieces at your last event/exhibit
c. Won a notable prize / award
d. Received strong social media attention ( articles in high-profile magazines/websites )
Pricing Your Artwork for Exhibitions and Special Events
Do your research. Check out the pricing of your co-exhibitors. Use the event directory to see their prices. You lose buyers if priced too high. Try offering an event only % discount to match your competition. If too low, your work may be associated with low quality.
Factor in extra costs. Don’t forget to calculate commission, shipment, exhibition fees in your pricing. Make sure to include these costs somewhere in your pricing.
View your artwork as a stranger. Imagine what value a stranger will associate with your work. They can only see the finished product not the stress and labour you put into it. Just like you can only see the finished dish from a restaurant and not all the preparations made for it.
Your artwork price is not your value. Don’t ever think of yourself as cheap. You will become discouraged and uninspired to create more. You may even start to feel like a sell-out.
Price your event and gallery the same. Be fair to your galleries and keep the same price for your artworks. Don’t compete with them but rather work with them.
Consider the audience. Know the tastes of your audience at an event. If you are at a small-town event, they will have different preferences and budgets compared to an art fair in a big city. Bring the artwork that best fits the situation.
While pricing is still not my favourite part, I hope that all this info can help you on pricing your artwork. Your price should be the one you are happy with where your artwork is selling enough to support what you love to do best.