Make a Pricing Chart for Your Art

If you set your art prices ahead of time and know why they are where they are, you should be confident in standing firmly behind them. (See today’s Art Marketing Action newsletter for more.)

If you haven’t done this already, take time to make up a chart for your prices:

  • Artworks based on size.
  • Artworks based on material (for instance, they go up when bronze, precious gems, or gold leaf are added).
  • Artworks based on sentimental value to you.
  • Workshops / teaching based on time spent with students.
  • Workshops / teaching based on travel required.
  • Lectures and demonstrations based on preparation time and travel required.
  • Licensed use of your images.

Write this down! Keep it in a file on your computer that you can find easily. Print it out and keep it on your bulletin board. Memorize it. These are your prices. Stand firm.

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12 comments to Make a Pricing Chart for Your Art

  • Alyson: Thank you for your word about pricing in today’s newsletter. Just last week I was faced with this issue when a potential customer wanted me to do a commission for $200 instead of my asked-for price of $225. Though we need the money, I just couldn’t do it…couldn’t say “yes” as I truly feel my price was fair… and so I politely held my ground. I haven’t heard from her, so I may have lost the commission, but I feel good about my decision! http://www.justblogme.com/carlasonheim/

  • Here is an acception that I made when selling work. I had entered two pieces in a show at a zoo. One of the pieces was granted a purchase award. The other larger piece was being considered for purchase for their private collection. Their budget was lower than the price and they wanted me to reconsider my price. I REALLY wanted to be in their private collection so I considered these factors: 1. What it cost for me to have it sent back to me. 2. There was no commission taken on either piece 3. The commission I would have paid if it had sold in a Gallery 4. How good is this going to look on my resume 5. I have had the piece for 9 years and it was unique in the fact it would not have general public appeal. I compromised on my price and the zoo purchased it. I am very happy with this decision so there are always exceptions.

  • I’ve improved dramatically on this point, and feel good about it, thanks to Alyson’s e-classes and newsletters. The professionalism and confidence is conveyed to my customers. I recently entered my ‘Hour of Decision” painting in a juried competition and priced it at $4995. People looked at me strangely and even made comments that skirted the idea as to whom did I think I was to value my art at that price. It will either sell at that price or I will gladly keep it in my personal collection. By the way, it won Best of Show and I received a check for $500. I do have a question as to how to price licensing images for book covers and other purposes. Advise would be greatly appreciated.

  • Joe

    At a co-op gallery that I belong to, many members (but not all) feel that giving a 10% discount is almost standard when someone asks. While I don’t like the idea of lowering my prices, sometimes it seems the right thing to do: Recently a collector bought 3 of my paintings and asked for better price. Considering that he was buying 3, I really didn’t mind giving a discount. Maybe he would have paid the full price, but I think he went away happier that I gave him a break, and maybe he’ll be back again. Once I gave a substantial discount to a woman who loved a painting so much that I would have felt bad if she didn’t end up with that painting. Turns out that she’s a very active volunteer in land preservation, and since that sale, she’s given me a lot of great information on places to paint and where there are conservation easments that I can get to. And thanks to her, the next newsletter of the planning council, might just be featuring a local landscape painter (me). I do understand what your saying about being professional with pricing, but sometimes I think there is room for bargaining.

  • Thank you for your comments about pricing. It is all about pricing. How do you behave when some people don’t buy from me because they say I am pricey and others buy from me and say, your art is not expensive. So far, this year, I have sold 20 paintings. I give 10% discount to returning collectors.

  • Terri Garcia

    I heard of a jeweler who had high but fair prices. When his customers would complain of the prices he would explain what went into his work. If they still complained he would say “I guess you just can’t afford my work”. If they left without making the purchase they almost always came back. His logic and self-esteem made his work more desirable. That simple statement turned owning his work into a status symbol. Since hearing that story I haven’t been afraid to price my jewelry at what it should be. If someone wants something bad enough they’ll pay the price and respect us for valuing our own time and work. If we lowered our prices what would that say about how we view and respect ourselves? Each piece we create is special to us, so it should be to our customers too.

  • When I give a discount, it usually of my own choosing. If someone purchases multiple items, is a frequent repeat customer, or refers their friends to me, then I like to say thank you to them in some tangible way. It costs a lot to find a new customer, so why not recognise that and pass on some of your savings? If on the other hand someone demands a discount for no particular reason then I will happily call their bluff.

  • I recently gave a discount on my jewelry for a woman who said she wanted it for her husband in Iraq. (I make jewelry with baby names and she wanted one with her’s and her daughter’s name on it.) It hit me straight in the heart so I offered her a small discount and no shipping if she wanted to pick it up at my studio. So she placed the order, but I have been second-guessing myself. Would she have placed the order anyway if I didn’t offer a discount? I have been studying Alyson’s good advice for a long time now & normally I would not have offered to lower prices. But I found myself wondering about a gracious/firm/confident way to let the customer know WHY my prices are what they are, and WHY they are worth it. “I guess you can’t afford my work” as in the previous post seems feels so pretentious to me. If anyone has experience with “standing firm” I’d love to hear it. I’m remembering Bruce Baker at Alyson’s last October’s conference & how he explained you should say no to people who ask for a discount & then launch into some well-thought out phrases about all the beautiful qualities of your work and why it is so worth their money. I’ll have to dig out my notes!

  • It was interesting to read the blog topic this week because I was faced with this same question at an art fair this past weekend. The show was very very slow and by the end of the day I had made only one sale, but it was a big one. The next day a woman approached my tent, loved the work and very nicely asked if my prices are at all negotiable. I very nicely told her no. I later came to find out that she was a friend of the previous day’s purchaser! I am certain she was not a plant but the thing is, you never know to whom you are speaking. Thankfully I have thought long and hard about this issue and decided long ago to do just what Alyson outlined here.I have read a lot of what many people have to say about it (including Alyson, of course)and have taken a lesson from previous business experience. In presenting design proposals to clients for additions to their homes, while working with a design/build firm, many clients would indicate that the price was too high, expecting a discount. Our response was simple; what can we remove from the project in order to meet your budget? That response was unexpected and surprised people but they almost always worked with it and we were very, very busy.

  • Phil Taylor

    As an art collector I would like to give my perspective on pricing. I have bought a number of paintings in the last few years from galleries or artists directly. In almost all cases I negotiated a lower selling price – usually 5 to 10%. This seems a natural way to do business. I have also bought art where the price was firm. I suppose if the artist prices his or her work fairly and wants to stay firm on the price, I would probably buy the piece if I really wanted it. But there are buyers(especially from some cultures) that expect to haggle and if you dont give them at least some break you could lose the sale. Pricing it fairly simply does’t work with some people. But I generally agree that artist should try to price the work properly and be fairly firm. I guess for me I am flexible enough to to buy on a firm price or haggle if it is warranted.

  • I’ve been keeping a price list for a few years and find it invaluable. I created a simple excel spreadsheet and have a formula built in to calculate the price based upon the dimensions of the work, then as needed, I tweak the price as I feel fit. And as Alyson suggested, I keep a printed copy right here tucked under my keyboard because I’m always using it! As for straying from the prices, I am consistent in the retail price of the art. For special events and direct sales I will give a courtesy discount. Older work that hasn’t been shown in a few years is a good candidate for donating to art-related fundraising events. Good friends are given the “family” discount (half of retail)if they buy directly from me, which I tell them about in advance and am clear that is for them only. Not saying that I haven’t learned my lesson through trial and error, but you can’t be all things to all people. An idea to extend the range of your prices is by making prints or cards from your originals or very small entry-level priced artwork in addition to your regular work.

  • This was such a helpful newsletter and blog post for me, I tend to be a bit wishywashy on prices, twice I’ve let galleries alter my prices and I’ve always regretted it – well, no more! I’m going to make up my charts and stick to it! I usually price by size and small modifiers like time. larger works seem to defeat the size scale quite badly do you have any recommendations on how to set up a sliding scale to keep them more in line?