The Dollars and Sense of Pricing Art to SellNov 10, 2021
Author: LM Penner
The moment is here. You've made up your mind, grabbed your courage, sucked in a big nervous breath, and now you're ready to jump. You are going to take your art to the next level.
The Professional Level
You are ready to sell your art. There's only one problem -- you have no idea what number to write down on the sales ticket. How much should you charge for your art?
Your paintings are the babies of your heart, so their worth? Clearly priceless. Still, you are new on the art scene. People don't know you. They're going to want an actual dollar figure amount they can lay down, and every single article you've read online tells you not to make an emotional decision when setting the price for your art.
So, how do you decide on a selling price? Well, the first step is education. You need to check out the market and find out what other people are charging. Just remember when you do this that the results are subjective. In other words, what someone who is an established artist can charge for a painting and what you -- an unknown beginner -- can ask will not be the same thing. The best thing to do when you are studying the art market is to find artists who are as similar to yourself as possible. What are new artists who have similar styles, mediums, and subject matter to yourself charging for their work? If you can identify those people, that is a starting point of comparables you can work with.
What people charge for artwork is going to vary based on how established of an artist they are, how long they have been selling and building up their reputation, how in-demand they are, and also where they are located geographically, not to mention whether they are selling online (direct to the consumer) or through a third party like a gallery who will be paid a portion of the profits. Still, once you look at what other people are charging for their art, you have a place to start.
As Bold School artists, you also have the amazing resource of your artist community. Don't forget to utilize this great resource by asking your fellow students for tips on how they price their artwork.
Once you have the background of market research and the advice of other artists you trust, there are also a few formulaic ways to price arts.
1. Price According to Square Inch.
If you choose to price your art according to the square inch footage of your canvas, you will calculate the price of your piece by first multiplying the length by the width of your canvas. That will provide square inches of the canvas. Next, you will multiply the square inches by the amount which you believe your reputation is worth. Jake Dunn, director of The Art Club, recommends selling at student prices of $0.50 to $1.00 per square inch while studying or when just starting off. You would then add in the cost of framing and include that in your price.
If you are working with a 10" by 12" canvas, then you multiply 10x12 which equals120 square inches. If you multiply 120 square inches by $1 per square inch, you will be charging $120. If you are framing the painting, double the cost of the frame and add that to the selling price. If the frame costs $50, that becomes $100. Added to the total price, the amount you charge becomes $220.
2. Materials-based Formula
"Price by Comparables."
Comparables, in regards to pricing, means that when you create a price for your work, you consider all the external factors such as your cost of materials, the work-hours involved, the size of the project, subject matter, skill required, and your own reputation or how long you've been selling. You decide how much you need to be paid per hour, then multiply the number of hours by your hourly rate, then add in the price of your materials. So, if your materials cost $100 and you want to earn $20 per hour for a work that took 20 hours to complete, you would multiply 20x20 (400) and add 100. You would charge $500. If your painting doesn't sell, you may need to lower your hourly rate.
3. Pricing According to Linear Inch
This pricing schematic is similar to pricing by square inches but instead of multiplying the width by length, you add length and width, then multiply by $20. So, a 10"x12" canvas would be (10+12)x20. 22x20=440. You would charge $440.
Any of these formulas can help you determine prices for your work. Whichever you choose to go with, experts say it is important to remain consistent with your pricing since buyers will find that more professional than random, emotion-based pricing. Experts also recommend having multiple price points for people to choose from, as art lovers have varying-sized pocketbooks.
Finding the amount your reputation is worth can require trial and error and adjustments up or down in price. Charla suggests that you start pricing on the low end and see what response you get. If 70% of your inventory sells out quickly, you should raise your prices. If you don't get many sales, go the opposite direction and lower your rates. She also says that undercharging is always better than charging too much, especially when you are new. It is always better to increase your prices than to decrease them.
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