With a new solo exhibit coming up I thought it might be good to reveal some of the mysteries of artwork pricing. I think its important for collectors and other artists to know how your work is priced and why. I don't think this should be a mystery. I am an artist and a business person and I believe its important to have consistent pricing on all of my work and a logical and transparent system for that.
A lot of artists agonize over pricing their work. It always seems to be an issue and area of stress and frustration.Some artists price emotionally, making the work they like best higher priced even if its very similar in size, medium, ec.t to their other work. Others just price randomly lowering and raising their prices per venue or market. I think both of these are the wrong way to go. By pricing the work you like the best higher you are basically saying you don't really value or care for the other work. If you price your work on a whim, change it according to venue or lower/raise your prices a lot you are going to potentially make some collectors and galleries unhappy. While looking at your art I can pull up your website, galleries and other info on my phone and compare prices. If the prices are different, I'm not going to be happy and won't buy your work. In the past, pricing for different markets may have been acceptable, but now with any information at our fingertips it’s just not a good practice. People are savvy and the internet has leveled the playing field in some ways.
There are a variety of factors that go into artwork pricing. Materials, time, marketing, promotion, business expenses, artist reputation, sales commission, framing, and years of experience are several. All of these things need to be factored into the pricing formula in some way. I feel very strongly that artists under price their artwork a majority of the time. Unfortunately it ends up hurting everyone and an artist actually devalues their own work—as well as the works of every other artist in the area by doing this.It is important to educate the buyer/collector on what goes into your artwork and justify to them that your prices are fair and reasonable.
With all of that said, here is how I price my artwork. I use a square inch formula that has been adjusted for the very small and large pieces. I have a spreadsheet set up with the formula. I input my width and height and it calculates the square inches, then it multiplies that by the price I set per square inch to determine the price. If a piece is framed I factor that in and add it to the price. That's it, I don't stress or worry about how to price my work anymore. I just input the data and it tells me the price.Its always consistent, and I am confident when someone asks me how I came up with that price.
So how do I come up with how much to charge per square inch? That is the place each individual artist needs to determine for themselves. As mentioned above I factor in many things.
- What materials I typically use.
- I compare my art with similar artists in my area and experience level.
- How long it takes me to make a piece. I have been doing this a while, and know my average time to make a piece of my art.
- My experience level. I have been exhibiting my art for 14 years. I have exhibited my work in over 100 shows, that's an average of 7 exhibits a year. In addition I have received several grants, and artist residencies.
- My business expenses, marketing, promotion, website maintenance, shipping, printing, studio costs, and many more.
This is not the only way to price artwork, there are many different formulas and ways. My main piece of advice is to keep it consistent and be able to explain why you price your work the way you do.