Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Price Your Artwork by Cedar Lee

If you are just starting out as a professional visual artist and you have a good body of work that you'd like to sell, but you don't know how to begin when it comes to pricing your are a few pointers that might be helpful!

My website:

A few footnotes I wanted to add after receiving some helpful feedback from other artists:

The price examples I give are for gallery-wrapped canvases, i.e. unframed. So for me, the cost of framing is not a factor. If you frame your work, you will have to add your framing costs onto your retail price (obviously, or you wouldn't make a profit!) In this case I'd probably still price by size to start with, then tack on the framing costs afterwards. I've seen many artists that have 2 prices for each piece they sell, a framed price & an unframed price. I think that's a
smart way to do things, as many galleries and collectors may prefer to frame a piece themselves. (But of course this all depends on your work--the frame you choose may be of integral importance to the work.)

A note about size: looking through the goggles of my own situation, I hadn't even considered how low $1/inch would be for very small sizes, since the smallest size I typically work in is 20" x 20". If you make smaller paintings, you'll want to start higher than $1/square inch. (A 5"x7" painting for $35 would be ridiculously low for most painters--except possibly if you're mass-producing them and they only take a few minutes to make.) A general rule I've always had is never to sell *any* painting for less than $100, no matter how tiny. But that's my own personal rule and you will need to see what works for you.

And a note about medium: I've always been told that oils go for more than acrylics, acrylics more than pastels, and so on. But I need to make it clear that 1) I have no experience selling anything other than acrylic & oil paintings so I'm not an expert when it comes to price points of different mediums and 2) there are always exceptions to any general trend, and trends change! So if you are a pastel or watercolor artist, it is possible you could charge as much as an oil painter, but I'm not the best person to ask about that!

Many people have commented that my prices seem low--and they are! My personal strategy is to figure out the lowest possible price that I feel good about and go with that. I love giving people great deals on beautiful art for their homes and offices, and I price my work to sell easily and quickly. I'd rather make a little less money and have my painting hanging in someone's collection than over-price it and risk it not selling. (Of course my prices have risen steadily and will continue to do so throughout my career as I become more established in my field.)

But the way I'm doing things may not work for you--in the end it all comes down to clearly defining your goals for your art and your business.