It is the age old question...how much is my art worth and how much should I be paying for a piece of artwork?
The answer to this question however is simple, artwork is worth as much as you are willing to pay for it!!
However, as an artist it is always a challenge to know how much to price your work. You feel like you are either over-selling or under-selling your work and neither of those are ideal. I have done my research, thought about what I do and spoke to other artists in the industry which I trust to come up with my top 5 tips for pricing artwork for beginners.
Top 5 tips:
1) Do your Homework
2) Value the value of your time!
3) Size Matters
4) Never put your work "on sale"
5) Be Consistent
Hopefully by the end of this blog you will have a little bit more confidence in your prices!
1) Do your Homework
Go to your local art shop or website (I use CassArt as there is a huge shop near my office and they are online too) and work out the based cost for all your materials. I tend to stock up on canvases in advance and buy a range of sizes. I will also buy paint and other supplies in bulk. This helps to reduce the cost but, also means you spend less time buying paint and more time actually creating!!
Once you know how much it costs you make a list either in excel or in a notebook (I am a bit old school with this and love to have things in my notebook) and use this as your base price guide. Put all the different sizes in there and then it is easy to refer to when speaking with a client or are pricing it up for your website.
Important : DO NOT include your time in this cost as it will vary dramatically based on the complexity of the painting :) we cover your time in Step 2!
b) Fellow Artists
Now this stage is SUPER important. I go on other Artists pages with a similar style and expertise as myself. I take a look at what they are pricing their artwork at. This is important because despite the Art world being so friendly and supportive, they are your direct competition. You do not want to price your work considerably lower or higher than theirs. This does not mean you should copy their prices, it is purely a guide to know how the "market" is looking.
You can also visit exhibitions by similar artists and talk to art dealers to get a feel for the current market. This is also really helpful as you can talk directly to the artists and buyers to get a sense of how they are feeling. I try to go to one show per month of an artist in my category.
p.s. this is also super fun as you get to meet other artists!! It is so important to support each other and build a community.
2) Value the value of your time!
As artists we have a gift...
We see the world in a different way, with potential. We see what something could be and have the imagination and creativity to make it a reality. This is something which we should never take for granted!
Our time spent preparing, sketching, mind mapping, you name it, is time well spent when the painting created is just as we hoped or exactly what the client wanted. That said, it means that our time has a value to it. All those hours spent that go into creating that painting need to be taken into account when you are pricing up your work. Therefore, for me I have set a basic price of what I feel my time "per day" is worth. The value of your time is not an exact science and can go up or down in the future so do not stress to much about this it is just a guide to help you!
For me I tend to start at between £75-£100 per day. But, for you this could be more or less depending what you feel comfortable with. Then you need to multiply this by how long you expect the painting to take. Use previous work you have done as a guide to the number of hours/days needed for the painting you are about to create will take. I always try to be fair with my time and give myself enough time to create the painting without urgency. I usually give myself 1/2 extra days of time to allow for those days (we all have them!) where the creativity is just NOT happening. (>>Click here for my blog on Creative Blocks if this is something you struggle with). OR, if you have already finished the work and it is not a commission you can use the actual amount of time it took you! SIMPLE!
Price per day (£75-£100) x Number of days = Value of your time
Once you have the Value of your time you can add this to your Materials Cost in Step 1 above and this is the rough estimate I use for ALL my paintings
3) Size Matters
Be very aware that when you are pricing your work, regardless of how long it takes, your clients will expect to pay less for a painting which is smaller. Sadly this is just a fact and we have to accept it.
When I have smaller paintings that have taken me a long time to produce I try to get them professionally photographed to be made into Art Prints. This means that I can make back some of the margin I lose by pricing for size. As a rule of thumb I take off 10-15% off the amount the price calculated by step 1+2. But, I make sure I am happy with the price I am charging!
4) Never put your work on sale
We have all been there when the bills are piling up, you have not made any sales this month and you are tempted to do a sale to make some money. But, never put your work on sale or reduce the price of your work after publishing the price online, at a show, exhibition etc.
By reducing the price of your work publicly you are undermining the value of your product and will give people a reason to expect those reduced prices going forward. And in all honestly it looks unprofessional and makes it appear that you have overpriced your work in the first instance!! Which is not what anyone wants!! But, also will erode the money you take home at the end of the day and mean your talent and time in step 2 is reduced in value!
What you can do, and I would encourage you to do is, offer loyal customers a discount. They are the best advocates for your work and know the true value of your pieces. So by offering them a discount you are not reducing the value of the work, you are actually keeping your best customers happy and may encourage them to purchase again in the future. They also will be more likely to recommend you to a friend or family member. Word of mouth may seem old fashioned these days but, it is still one of the best ways to sell art!
Note: do not give them such a discount that you do not cover the costs in step 1+2!! I aim for between 10-20% and no more than this.
5) Be consistent
Imagine a person walks into your exhibition and sees a painting they fall in love with. They take your business card and look the painting up online after the show and see that actually at the show you were charging something totally different to online. They are not going to be impressed...
Consistent prices are something which is so fundamental and is a signal to your buyers that your work has product quality and deserves consistent pricing. Whether you are selling online, on social media, at shows or through word of mouth you need to maintain the same price and stick to it!
There is no set in stone rule for pricing your work but, it has to be a price your are comfortable with and makes you a decent return at the same time.
As a basic rule:
Value of your time + Materials Cost = Fair Price for your work
Final snippet of advice - If you cannot put a price on a piece maybe that is because it is priceless and should not be sold! If you fall in love with a piece there is no law that says you HAVE to sell it! Keep it, you deserve your art as well :)
Agree with what I say or have other tips?! Share this post to your socials and get sharing your ideas to add to this post!
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