I got a text from a lovely friend today, asking how I price my artwork. This has got to be the TRICKIEST thing about being an artist. EVER. Putting a price on something you love doing feels … well … really weird. One of the hardest parts to get your head around (and I guess this is because of self-doubt) is that you have to put a price on your value. It is hard. But the most important thing to remember is to never ever undervalue your work. You’re unique and so is your art, brand and everything else!
I decided to do a bit of investigating on the subject – I interviewed a few artists (including myself!) with one question… “How do you price your art?”. Check out their answers and blogs/sites/Facebook pages below…
Fleur Woods Art
‘I use a formula to price my art: materials (including framing) + studio costs (internet, power, accountant etc) + time (hourly rate) + commission + applicable taxes = Price Sometimes the price after all of these factors isn’t appropriate for my market (emerging NZ artist), so I sometimes have to reduce my hourly rate to make the costings work. When you look at the cost of an original piece of art it often appears inflated, but if you consider this formula it is clear that the artist is only being paid for their time & costs, just like any other business. As my experience grows & the value of my work increases it will improve my hourly rate. Just as you would expect in any other profession.‘
‘That must be one of the most common questions artists debate… My work is priced by my history (previous sales and development). I remember enjoying artist Tony Allain produce an amazing 15 minute pastel work and when asked to justify his price he commented that it was not accounted for by that 15 minutes, but the 45 years previously that enabled him to produce a work in 15 minutes. I think pricing is relative and individual to an artist’s work / history.’
hmmmmmmm? How do I price my art? This is the aspect of my work that I find harder than anything else. I must admit that the answer is I am still learning. Right from the start I wanted it to be affordable so that someone like me could afford to buy it, but if I do that then after the gallery has taken their cut (which is absolutely necessary for them), of sometimes up to 50%, you as an artist are left with very little indeed, aaaaggghhh! Then there is also the issue that the public may not value what you as an artist believe gives value to a piece. I am a lino print artist, so I can reproduce each work, but I set the number as a limited edition. Each is hand printed and thus unique, taking a lot more time and failures than you would imagine. Yet not everybody out there recognises that there is a big difference between this and a digital print (often termed a giclee print). As another example take the coloured print of a titi pounamu, which has only 12 copies in the edition, and is a complex 4 or 5 layered reduction print, which involves cutting away more parts of the same lino block for each successive colour layer, and the tedious job of getting the registration of the paper precise. In my mind I have been hugely underpricing this series at $140 each, compared with my Tui Harakeke, a simple black and white, in a larger series, which I charge more for. I do this because………..why do I do this? hehe, because I still do not have enough faith in my own judgement. Ask any artist, I’m sure they have similar dilemmas. I think as I become more and more experienced these inconsistencies will iron themselves out. If anyone is reading this hoping for some clear directions or rules, I’m sorry, I’m not sure they exist, if they do please share!
I’m quite new to putting a price on my own work and I do find it difficult. I take into consideration how long I spent on the picture, materials used and how well I feel it turned out. I also think that it’s a good help to keep an eye on how other artists price their work. That’s the only time I think it might be helpful to compare your work with anyone else’s!
This is one of my personal nightmares…I hate pricing my work. Its not something I focus on while making my pieces but always must be dealt with when eventually, no matter how long I put it off for. I had a wonderful art mentor that I worked with about 5-6 years ago and he said he generally follows the rule of 5 x Cost – add up all your costs (every little thing required to make that particular piece, include framing costs, any freight used, pencils, erasers, electricity) – then multiply this by 5. He also said you’re best off not trying to charge for the individual hours a piece takes, as some work may only take an hour to make but thought processes, research and time sourcing of materials would also need to be taken into account. While another piece may have taken many hours of work but would in turn price it out of the market, also larger pieces should always cost more than smaller works. I have used this guideline for starting my pricing, and it also makes you very much aware of what its costing you to create an item. With some of my larger pieces I really struggled with my pricing, after working out my costs etc I felt I was going to be asking too much. After an exhibition in which I was doing painting demonstrations, but not actually there to sell anything, I was approached by an art collector who made me a private offer for one of my oil paintings – which more than covered the 5 x cost rule.
I have since used this as a basis for pricing for my larger works, and altering to include gallery charges. The hardest thing for me at the end of the day, for some pieces, is to get past the emotions that one has put into a piece and let it go for someone else to enjoy!
And from me… To price my original art, I base it on an hourly rate & how I feel about the outcome. I find this a good way to get a rough idea of price – making sure I add in all the costs involved – art materials, framing etc. My work is slightly different as I have prints available on most of the pieces. If there aren’t prints available on a piece then the price increases.
To price my prints, I scoured Etsy for similar artists to me and slotted my work into the range I found. When starting out, I found this to be the best way. It gave me an idea of where I fitted into in the industry. As my art grows and I become better known, I will increase my rates.
Remember! If people love your work they will always pay the price for it.