Over the last few weeks, the question of how do artists price their artwork has been asked enough to make us think it’s a worthy discussion… and It’s a question that quite honestly puts fear and dread into most artists including successful ones.
Price too high and the work won’t sell, price too low and buyers may view your work as cheap and amateurish, plus you may actually lose money and create an unviable business.
Today we thought we’d look into the tricky subject of pricing your art and ask some successful artists how they price their artwork.
First up, we spoke to the hugely successful My Dog Sighs on the topic…
A tricky subject.
I was given this advice early in my career and have followed it…
Every time you sell out a show (or near as damn it) increase your prices by 10-20%. If the next edition/show sells out, increase it again.
As your work increases in value, those that bought early will be pleased and those that haven’t will be incentivised to do so before it gets too high. If sales slow, keep the prices constant. I first sold my cans for £40. They’re now selling from £700 – £1000. It was a long slow steady increase based on the same principle.
Whether you sell via gallery, online gallery or direct, your prices must be consistent. Galleries won’t work with you if you undercut them. You’re paying the gallery 50% to push you to a new Audience. If they aren’t bringing new collectors, then you need to question what they’re doing for half the value of your work.
Make sure you’ve got work at all price bases. Some people can scrape together £5. For others £10k is pocket change. The challenge is getting your work in front of the latter. (That’s where a decent gallery earn their 50%!!)
I know some artists price on time taken or size, others based on how connected they are to the work.
My principle is purely based on demand. It’s worth what people are prepared to pay“.My Dog Sighs
We think this is a very solid principle and makes logical sense. It’s a simple way of testing the market and as My Dog Sighs says, like most things, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
We also strongly agree with having art work available at different price points, that way you can appeal to a much wider market.
But what if you don’t have gallery representation or a solo show yet? What about those who are just starting out?
Another amazing artist we spoke to is Kaine Kulczak aka KORP who gave his view on how new artists should price their work…
“Starting out I think it’s best to be pragmatic with your approach to pricing by using an hourly rate and the cost of materials to choose a value. As time goes by your experience and popularity will begin to influence the value of your art more and more.”KORP
Again, this is another solid solution to this age-old question, especially as a starting point. It’s a simple idea and the formula is certainly better than plucking a random figure out of the air… but…
…based on this idea does this mean if you become highly skilled and can produce your artwork quickly it should be priced low?
This brings us on to Iva Troj who gave us her insights on whether using cost of materials and time is a good strategy…
“I never do that to be honest… it doesn’t matter what materials cost or what time it takes unless you are using a very costly material such as gold or a technique that implies a long period of production such as sculpted framing etc.
I research the market to see what the average is for the type of art I do. And I am consistent in my pricing. That’s the most important thing – consistency”.Iva Troj
What’s clearly apparent from this advice is that there is no set rule on how to price your art. That said, there are certainly some key points you can take on board to try and help you decide.
So here are our 5 top tips on how to price your artwork:
- Tip 1 – Keep a record of how much you have spent on materials and how long it took to create your artwork
- Tip 2 – Compare similar artworks to yours and see how your pricing compares
- Tip 3 – Never undersell yourself. Be confident and consistent in your pricing.
- Tip 4 – Create works at various price points to help widen your appeal and market
- Tip 5 – When you have a near to sell out show slowly begin to increase your prices and monitor the success
We would love to be able to write a conclusive ending of exactly how do artists price their artwork but it’s simply not possible.
Everyone has their own theories and to be honest it’s a matter of trial and error, but we hope our tips and the advice from these artists may give you some food for thought and the confidence to price your artwork at the value you deserve.