The golden rule for pricing your art

The golden rule for pricing your art is . . .

Start low and go from there.

If you’re too high and later have to lower your prices, you appear unsuccessful and you also tick off anyone who purchased your work at higher prices.

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15 comments to The golden rule for pricing your art

  • This is SOOOOO hard to do. Much of the time, I have people who like my art tell me, “You are not charging enough for your work.” (Some of them have actually bought a piece of my work, many of them haven’t). BUT the reality is that I am not selling as much work as I would like. And I would rather sell it than have it sit around the studio. I have looked at comparable work, and I think I am in the right neighborhood — I use size as the criteria. I don’t think pricing is my issue, but rather the venues I am able to find right now. Wish this was easier!

  • I think I have found my price point. Almost three years ago I was given a solo show in a beautiful gallery in a major city. After some cajoling, the gallery owner convinced me to double my prices. We had a hugely successful show and I sold well at her gallery. But guess what. Since I don’t practice regional pricing, I was forced to raise my prices across the board. My painting sales tanked everywhere else, especially closer to home. Then recently a gallery in my home town had a special pricing event and we reduced my prices by 20%. As a result my paintings flew off the walls. So there you are — a new formula: Review your prices, double that, then wait two years and take 20% off! Groan.

  • I agree it is not easy to get it right. When I first started selling my prints, I talked to several regional artists to see what they were charging and looking at our similarities and differences and then priced in the middle … I have tried to be exact in my pricing, but then some store owners tell me they have the right to set prices as they want … (like on my cards after they bought them) … so it is a work in progress … ~ Diane Clancy

  • Pricing is a complex subject and it might take a semester (4 month) to learn. (At least that is what my school said) Start your price low in fancy business term called penetration pricing. You are hoping the low price will attract more buyers and gain market share quickly but often time you will attract more bargain hunters and they will switch once you increase the price because expected price is low. At the same time, you will need to sell for high volume in order to achieve your sales goal. It is also difficult to lower your price in the future. The solution is to set your desirable and reasonable price and then run special. The perceived price will still be high but the initial price will be low for you to enter the market easier. The special will run in short term and then the price will go back to normal (high). see original post here

  • Pricing artwork has many interesting aspects to it–especially if you are represented by different galleries in different areas. It is not unusual to agree to a price with a gallery and later find they have sold it for a much higher price than you agreed on–only to pay you the commission based on the price you originally agreed on. Many galleries will discount for certain collectors, others take costs off for all sorts of unexpected things. By the way, if you wholesale a piece, or cards, or anything, really–the store can price it however they want. You agreed to accept a price, not a percentage. Retailers can charge anything they want if the market will bear it. You can always ask for a percentage, not a fixed price, but that means you will have to wait to be paid and you may also suffer a price reduction if the items are sold at sale prices. Unlike most items, art seems to get priced pretty randomly and the general public is sometimes mistrustful of art prices unless they recognize a “name” or trust a certain gallery owner. It’s good to do a lot of homework. I agree with Alyson–start low. You can always go up as demand increases.

  • In response to running specials on your art work–most art professionals recommend against this–it gives a weird cast to your work. If you set a fair price, there’s no need to discount. If your patrons think you’ll have a discount sale they’ll just wait, don’t you think? You can always privately offer someone a discount if they are good supporters or are related to you ;-)(like many galleries do) but to have a “sale” is usually considered somewhat tacky. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but art has usually been considered a little above the ordinary consumer culture…it’s a good debate, probably.

  • Great post, Alyson! Pricing is awful to determine, especially when you’re just getting your work out there. I think I’ve found my bracket though, and I raise my prices bit by bit when I begin finding it difficult to keep supply up with demand. But I don’t drop. There is no sense in devaluing your own work! I’m going to take off on this one from an artshow standpoint on my own blog. Thank you for all of your wonderful insightful posts, you’re a wealth of inspiration! :)

  • Great post, and a good reminder as always. It’s hard to stick to though. I started selling my work last year and set my pricing comparable to many other emerging landscape painters in the region. My work has been selling so well that I have a hard time keeping the gallery stocked with paintings, so I’ve done a couple of modest price increases (10%), and found that my work still sells. A lot of more established artists have told me that my work is priced to low, but I feel that I can’t justify raising my prices more at this point. I’m trying to stick to 10-15% per year, but it’s hard when everyone nags me about it all the time!

  • D. Morris

    As a fundraiser for breast cancer research, I held a sale of my art where one half of the value of my art pieces was donated to this cause. The purchaser received a tax donation receipt (and my artwork) and I was able to sell off many of my pieces. This was a once only event. Although I only received one half of my selling price in my pocket, the fundraiser gave me a lot of publicity and intrinsic pleasure by donating to this worthy cause.

  • I once tried adding a coupon to my newsletter for a certain dollar amount off anything over $50. It got a great response from my subscribers initially, but only one person actually used the coupon! Very strange. The fundraiser idea is fabulous! You get to clean out your studio of perfectly good but maybe older art and help a great cause as well. I may have to trythat one.

  • donate to a charity silent auction…they put a low starting bid & a retail value approximate price…(2 different numbers)…after the event, ask what the work of art sold for…now you have an established price to begin with…(people & galleries want to know a price that your work has sold for before…)

  • In response to Mary’s post, you are right and I found my wording is incorrect. What I really want to say is to run special and set your desirable price together at the beginning of your sale. Running special is not after setting the desirable price. Customers will know you are running special but at the same time they know the true price you are expecting. This is to inform customers that low price is not the norm. Basic concept is the same as Alyson’s. Start your price low. For example, “Original price is 500 and now 10% off with your fist order”. I just think that customers should know your true desirable price.

  • I’ve had a lot of difficulty with regional pricing as well, selling here in Australia and in the US involves some odd price differences that I worry about constantly. I’ve been told constantly to fix a price and never waiver, no matter what but it is hard to do. I want to price high enough to be taken seriously as a professional but low enough to sell work and gain collectors and a good sales history. I have found the middle ground with my pricing, I either get people telling me it’s too low or too high and I make reasonable sales. Personally, I think it is too high on some days and too low on others – I guess the middle ground is the least offensive in every direction. I have a spreadsheet that calculates by size and medium with different price per inch brackets for the really big works and the really small ones. it works and it allows me to be consistent. I guess consistency is the most important thing, and I have to tell myself that regularly, otherwise I go nuts!

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