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How To Price Your Art

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Knowing how to price your art, is for some artists, like wrestling a big ugly gorilla. It's something they know they have to get their head around, but don't really want the responsibility that is involved.


The first thing you should do when you begin to pricing your art, is to lose any potential "emotional" attachment you may have with each piece.

The reason why you need to remove the emotional factor in order to price your art successfully, is because many artists get caught up in attaching a price that is directly associated to the sentimental value they have for the piece.

If a piece of work means that MUCH to you, then don't sell it. It's that simple. Don't aggravate yourself trying to fix a price. Just pack it away in the "I'm not selling this one" pile. Don't ever let the creative purist side of you get into an argument with the capitalist business person.

If you produced a painting based on the heartbreak of losing a loved one, you'll naturally associate a HUGE emotional value to the piece and perhaps a price tag to suit. A collector may not make the same association.

Therefore; price your art with consistency. By that I don't mean you should have the same fixed price for every piece. But price your art at different price levels with consistency, so you have an entry level for everyone who really appreciates your work.


How To Find Your Art Price Guide

Your art actually has a market value – regardless if you have a reputation in the art scene or whether you're a complete unknown; there is still a market value for your work.

Your job is to assess where you fit in, in regards to this market value.

We artists can quite often justify the importance behind a piece based on our creative and emotional input. But, can we also translate that into a dollar amount without being ridiculously over priced?

In order to price your art properly, you have to get down to some real basic fundamentals.

In the real estate world they use sales comparisons to justify the starting price a home seller should use to sell their home. So essentially, this means the home seller will see the median price range that other houses have been selling for in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

If the home seller thinks, "Hey, no way, my home is worth $50,000 more than all of the homes sold," and her decision is based on the emotional significance the home has for her family - she could well be in for long wait, as her home may not sell for a very long time.

People looking to buy a house in the area will know there is no track record of houses selling within that price range. As a result they will be weary.

The smart art collector works in much the same mind set. They are just as concerned about how they spend their money. Their purchase decision will be based on the sales comparisons of artists selling their work in your community or geographical area.  

Capitalist Versus Purist

I was once in a conversation with a gentleman who was viewing my work at an exhibit. He had come to the assumption that my art looked as though it had been painted with quite a bit of emotional input. 

However... he really felt that I was very business orientated when it came to exhibiting my work. He went on to mention that I do not come across as the "purist" artist that he could see in my work.

My reply was this...

"I once thought to myself; I could either live a life as a purist artist, and never sell my art to anyone. Therefore, I would have a storage house filled with my work until I died.

But then I realised something. 

When I die, my work would more than likely be discovered and sold, donated or dumped. 

So based on that realisation I decided I would much rather have my work sold, donated and dumped while I am still alive – and I convinced myself a long time ago that I was just the man for the job".

Did he end up buying a piece of my work? 

Yes (for which I am very grateful)


Beginners Tip On How To Price Your Art

If you are just starting out and have no idea where to begin, then here is a quick summary of how to go about knowing what price tag you should put on your art.

First, you have to consider the cost of your materials. Second you have to calculate the cost of your labor (your time and energy).

Whatever it cost you in terms of paints, canvas, thinners, brushes or whatever you require to produce a piece of work; you must calculate the cost of these materials.

Only you can really calculate your cost of labor. You must be able to calculate a value for your time invested in each piece that you create.

The next thing you have to do is compare what you are doing with other pieces of work selling in your community, online, at local art shows and festivals. Compare the sizes, the styles and subject matter. You'll get a good idea on how to price your work if you follow this procedure.

You also need to keep in mind that there is a retail price and wholesale price for your work. You are essentially the manufacturer of your work so you will need to establish retail and wholesale prices.

For example - Retail price is the price that you sell your work to the consumer (and/or collector) and the wholesale price is the lowest price you are prepared to go for a gallery or a retail store selling your work for you.


Simple Art Selling Tip

When I first began to exhibit my work, I would walk around and visit other artists exhibiting and selling their work. I make a note of their prices. Then I organised to participate in the next exhibit with slightly lower prices that the other artists had attached to their work.

For the most part this worked well, and I always made sales.

In order to price your art appropriately, you have to do a little research to determine where the market value for your art is situated.

When you have determined your price range, only begin to raise your prices when you begin to experience consistent sales success.  


Price Your Art Appropriately

Try not to make the mistake of blowing your prices too high too early, because you will be stuck with the challenge of not selling much of your work, and the challenge of not being able to bring your prices back down again.

So… never raise your prices based on the idea that you feel your technique is advancing. Determine a price raise on your work from a business point of view.


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