Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The (Simple) Art of Pricing your Art

Well the ever asking holy grail of questions "how do you price your art". Many Artists before me and many Artists after me will comment on, question and give advice on this very question. The variables are so great. The fact of the matter is...it is NOT as simple as plucking a number out of the air. It is NOT uniform -one size doesn't fit all. And it IS personal and subjective. It is dependent on many factors including;
  • quality of materials used
  • your labour/time
  • your professional status or level. Are you emerging, or hobbyist or semi-professional etc
  • factoring in the cost to produce, how much your materials costed you
  • is there an additional mark up involved because your factoring in the cost of a frame, entering a competition, delivering the artwork, commission etc
  • the economy or competition
These are just suggestions to think about. You could just say it is X amount and that is that, no thought, no consideration. But just like trying to sell a house, one major factor is PRICE, and getting the price right is a must. Then you can worry about your potential buyers. Look at Artists of similar calibre to you, see what similar artworks like yours are priced at in Galleries (depending on the gallery, consider subtracting 33-50% commission) etc. 

Here are some example forumlas some Artists may use: 
  1. Some work out their pricing by using an additive formula. For example; Materials + Labour + Margin = $x
  2. Some use a subtractive formula. For example; there know they want to get $y profit for the painting so then they subtract Labour, Materials from $x to get on or more then the $y amount.
  3. Others go with a 'feeling' what they think it is worth. I feel this is a good start for hobbyists or emerging artists who could not possible work out the price of their art based on labour as that alone would work out to be too much due to the nature of the learning process, that learners (and now I am generalising) would take a long time to complete a work of sellable quality. So therefore it is not so much about recouping your whole costs, just the satisfaction in selling. 
  4. $x amount per inch or centimeter. Times the length x width of canvas and divide by $x per inch or centimeter. For example, some may charge $2 or $3 per inch as a hobbyist, so working on a standard small size of an A4 sheet 12x8inch = 96inches x $3 per inch = $288
These are just some ideas on examples. I have gone through the stage of "feeling" what I think the value is as a hobby artist and as I have progressed I have worked my way to using Artist quality materials, not student quality anymore, I mentally I feel I have made the transition from hobbyist to semi-professional/professional and therefore consider Labour and Materials costs, and add on a margin.

I hope this helps a little when you think about pricing your art. I know as I progress I change and modify how I work mine out to suit so that I price more desirable to my target.

ARTISTS, please feel free to share some of your strategies on how you price or art or know of another Artist pricing methods. 

Here are some links which may be of help:


  1. It's a tough one Chrissy. I admit that I'm a "feel your way" with pricing, especially when exhibition demographics can be so varied. One thing I have been told is to "never reduce your prices".

    A few artist friends I know put their prices up by 10% each year. In this economic climate that may mean reduced sales. Time will tell.

    Good luck with your upcoming exhibition!

  2. Hi Chrissy,
    Nice to visit your art blog. Great article!
    Hope to see you soon by "Inspire Others" my art spot. I agree with Artoholic, this days it's hard to sell you art even at art fairs, always trying to come up with strategies to sell my artworks.
    Be Inspire, Inspire Others Today!

  3. I am friends with a painter and she told me to price my pieces at $100 per square foot... and just adjust that price up and down based on the canvas size. I should try your formula and see how close it comes to her pricing. Thanks!


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