Pricing your art can be so confusing, it can be a barrier to selling work for many artists. It can be extremely difficult to put a dollar value on a piece of art that is infused with your heart and soul. Truly, your work is priceless. But, you still have to put a price on it to sell it.
Here are 11 things you should know before pricing your art:
- Follow a Strategy. You should follow a strategy based on your experience with selling art. If you are a beginner a pricing art, you should use a cost + time formula to get started. Once you get comfortable with that, begin to compare your work to the market and adjust accordingly. As you take on representation, you will need to adjust for wholesale and retail pricing. When you are ready to turn your art making into a business, you should reverse engineer your income.
- Consider Perceived Value. The prices that people are willing to pay is greatly influenced by the context in which they find your art. If your art is first experienced in a museum-quality gallery, the perceived value will be much higher than if it is found in a paper bin at a small-town thrift store. Because of this, you should be very selective of where you show your art – both online and in person.
- Consistency is King. If your prices are not consistent (with themselves and with the market), you jeopardize losing both your buyers and your venues. Never undercut your own prices just to make a sale. At the same time, never allow a retailer to double or triple your prices. In the end, your collectors will be upset with you if they see your work selling for considerably less everywhere else.
- Keep Great Accounting Records. When pricing your art, you must understand exactly how much it costs you to create your work. Your pricing should reflect your materials, time and expertise. It would be impossible to price for profit without really knowing what you’re putting into your work.
- Test and Raise Prices Over Time. Test your art pricing over time and raise your prices as your collectors and various venues will tolerate. As your work evolves, so should your pricing.
- You’re The Boss. Never allow anyone else to set your pricing for you. It’s always a good idea to get feedback from the professionals you consider experts, but keep in mind that their interests might not totally be aligned with yours. Just because a gallery or art consultant in one city cannot sell a painting for $2500, doesn’t mean that is true for another professional in another city. If a professional tells you your art is too expensive, it means the art is too expensive for their situation.
- Follow Your Contemporaries. Stay involved and follow the art careers of other artists that are making work similar to you, even if you don’t know them personally. This is not for the purpose of creating similar work. Instead, be inspired by the shows they are getting in to, the collaborations they are involved with, and the venues they show in. These are clues to appropriate outlets for your work too.
- Lower Prices Are Not Better Prices. If your art is not selling, it may be priced too low. Most artists think that if it is not selling, they should lower their prices, but that is not always the case. Collectors already have a price point in mind for what they consider to be quality art. You may need to raise your prices and show your work in a better context. (See #1, above.)
- Consider Starting or Joining an Art Salon. An art salon is a gathering of artists for the exchange of ideas. Pricing conundrums are a great subject to bring up at an art salon. There, you will find supportive artists facing similar issues of all types, including pricing.
- Create a Formula. Once you arrive at what you feel is fair pricing, make sure to create a formula for your current pricing. This will help you quote consistent pricing, which is very helpful, especially when you don’t have your price list with you.
- Review Your Pricing Regularly. When you’re first starting out, you will be reviewing and adjusting your pricing often as you test to see what works for you. But as you become more established and have settled on a pricing structure, be sure to reviewing your pricing annually. Many artists do this at the beginning of the year as part of their new year planning. Never go longer than three years without a review.