Deep Thought Thursday (on Friday): Raise the prices on your art?

I hate to miss a week, so here’s a belated Deep Thought.

Is it better to have lower prices and hope to sell a lot or to raise your prices and get what your worth–even if it means working extra hard for a newer audience?

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15 comments to Deep Thought Thursday (on Friday): Raise the prices on your art?

  • My opinion is to go with the higher price. I’ve found that with raising my prices, I’ve found an audience that appreciates my work and expertise more, I don’t have near the amount of “problem clients” I’ve had in the past, and I haven’t had to spend near the amount of time in negotiations before the sale is done. All of this has been totally worth it to me!

  • I’ve raised my prices to what I consider a moderate level for art show art. Not everyone can afford my work now. So I need to be more selective about my sales venues. But that’s a problem: I’m not getting into the higher-level shows that I need. I’m trying very hard to reach my audience, but a lot of doors are closed. I’d caution anyone thinking about raising their prices to think long and hard. You can’t ever lower your prices, so raise them carefully. Barbara

  • I’ve decided to keep my prices relatively high (a moderate price point for a higher market). I think having lower prices can actually require more work. First, having lower prices doesn’t mean more sales, it just puts you in a lower-priced market. Whether your work actually sells there or not is another story, based on how well your work is targeted towards that market, etc. You’ll also need to sell more items to earn the same, requiring more marketing, more production, more order fulfillment.

  • This is a great question that all artists have to grapple with. Art Calendar Magazine had some good articles about this and if you check their archives you might find them. They had some very interesting formulas and ways different artists priced their work and advice from galleries as well. In my tile business I was very high end for commissioned work but rarely sold anything as an individual piece because the price was too high. It worked overall and I really wasn’t interested in selling gift items until I had my shop. Then I sold a lot of lower price gift items and very little art. When I’ve shown my paintings I’ve gone around and looked at what was selling for what in area galleries and priced my work where I thought my experience and ability put me and did very well. I am finding the pricing on line to be all over the place and it’s very confusing. For now I am working locally and will worry more about pricing as I go along. It’s a balancing act between pricing yourself out of your market (not THE market, YOUR market) and being too much of a bargain. Even your own market will think there’s something wrong with you if you sell too cheaply. I agree with all the above commenters for the most part–and it’s so individual!

  • I have timidly been moving to the latter. This year, I realized I have hit my production limits, and to earn more, I will have to turn to mechanized production, or higher prices. I want to continue my artist path, and not learn to become a mini-factory. I think learning to market myself better is vital to this process of reaching clients who can afford the very finest of American craft.. I just feel inner resistance at raising my prices, so they are inching up slowly… Alyson: what is the best way to handle public relations around price increases? Just raise prices and keep quiet, or let folks know ahead, and maybe educate along the way?

  • Chris: It’s always important to weed out the “problem clients.” I do that in my own business. Fortunately, most of my subscribers are dreams to work with. Barbara: Yes, raise your prices cautiously. And you’re right: lowering them shouldn’t be an option. Dan and Mary: You’re right. It’s not always good to have lower prices. In fact, it rarely is. People will value your art only as much as you do. That doesn’t mean to artificially inflate prices, but to get paid what you’re worth. Carrie: IMHO, if you’re raising prices you should first tell those who have bought from you before. Perhaps you can even set a time limit: “I’m going to be raising my prices in May and I wanted to let you know just in case you wanted another to go with the one you have [or to give as a gift or whatever.] I’m only sharing this information with my favorite collectors . . . ” Without being too hype-y. Does that make sense?

  • I’d have to agree with Babara you raise them slowly, but once they are high, there are some ways to still sell your art at cheaper prices e.g: ‘daily’ painting blog style.

  • I agree with everyone. I raised my prices. I was not selling much at lower prices because people who liked my work were actually at the higher end. It was like trying to sell my abstracts and large contemporary works at outdoor shows in the park or on the street. It was a joke. This year, I have started to post many of my pieces to POD sites, so people who want to buy inexpensive versions can have them, but the originals are valued more. My dad and other experienced artists have been telling me to raise my prices for years. I took a deep breath and did it. I do not know how it will work out, but I was beginning to think–what if I sold one of my big paintings for a few hundred dollars, and I had to have it restretched and shipped. Would I be happy? The answer was no. My time would be worth more than the effort. I feel better now.

  • My marketing strategy was to raise my prices for this year on my main pieces (torsos and masks) and drop the smaller lines made to appeal to the lower price ranges. This makes sense if you want to support yourself with your art – take your top 20% income producing work and just do that. As with others, it puts my work out of the range of a lot of folks but with this economy, those folks don’t have the disposable income to buy even the medium priced work I have out. I’m trying this for a year and seeing how it works. Ask the question again next year!

  • When I read the history of how great artists started out, it always begins with very low pricepoints …When numbers are mentioned & you look at the early work, you are struck with how great a deal the artist was offering for very high quality work …I have kept this at my side, this awareness that great art plus great prices equals tremendous love from your collectors …This love is what fuels a career …I am in it for the long term, to make people happy …money is money, a little more won’t make me a better artist, just a little more expensive & less competitive …Besides, who goes into art for the money ? Also, I cannot ignore the free or cheap availability of art online – take it seriously or not, you can buy a whole lot of art for your nickel through the various auction sites …not to mention , you can see & download most of the greats easily …so with supply high & demand low, how can I ask for more …?

  • There’s a lot of great discussion on this post so far. I’ve found that higher prices have actually increased my sales. Although there is always an upper limit, price does convey value and some patrons are willing to pay a premium in order to feel comfortable that they’ve made a good choice. As an example, I have one customer who typically stops by the studio a few times each summer and spends a couple grand on new work. He was seriously interested in the largest sculpture I had one summer, but when the price I named was half what he had expected to pay, he lost interest and I lost the sale. Bummer. Like Chris above, I have consistently found that clients who buy at lower prices or get “a deal” are the most troublesome, the most time intensive and the least satisfied. I prefer now to work only with clients who can afford and are willing to pay more when they want customization or special attention. Another point: Though I got into art to make art, not money, the money definitely allows me to focus more on making the art I want to make. If I need to put in 18 hour days on commissions or production items just to pay the bills, I don’t get as much new work done. By making the art pay better I can find more time to work on projects that might be less commercial but more interesting to me. Another thing that higher prices can do is make it possible to spend the extra time to make sure that each piece is finished exactly right, to the highest possible level of quality. This will have a long term effect on your reputation. If everything is *perfect* people talk about it. If you had to rush something out the door to get on to the next project before bills are due, that’ll show, and people will talk about that too.

  • I was represented by a well known local gallery in the area where I live from 1996 to 2003. The gallery owner let me a few other artists go. In the past year and a half or so I have been trying to market my paintings. I have a website and are in two not quite established galleries in my area. I can’t rely on either to even cover my material expenses. Last year I got involved with a weekend outdoor vendor market in the heart of the city in a live and shop outdoor mall venue. I sell smaller pieces from $25 up to $1,000 for canvas paintings. I have been selling steady to travelers and locals alike. It have been the best way to be able to learn about how to mingle with potential buyers, test which paintings get good reception and get people to my website by handing out business cars. The concern is with pricing. Once you have been in an established gallery is it realistic to expect prices that a gallery would charge to be the same as when you are representing yourself?

  • Wow, all this great info! I personally never change the price of a piece of art, no matter where it’s hanging or who I have to split the $ with, it’s always the same price to the patron. I only change pricing when I calculate for new pieces. Here’s my concern, the same as Barbara J Carter’s response above “I’m not getting into the higher-level shows that I need. I’m trying very hard to reach my audience, but a lot of doors are closed.”

  • As I’ve had more and more success, I’ve been steadily raising my prices. Last year at our city’s Community Center event where local artists show their work, I didn’t sell a thing. After a purchase by a major museum, I doubled my prices and attended this year’s show with the new prices. (Actually taking the advice to sell for what the gallery charges). I sold a small painting for a comfy four-digit number and my self-confidence was bolstered. My art is now selling as fast as I can produce but I still have trouble finding the nerve to raise prices even higher. My current gallery that only sells a piece every now and then, probably wouldn’t support much higher prices, so I’ll be shopping for venues that can. Meanwhile word of mouth and online social media has really paid off and I’m debating on whether to keep my work at this nice smaller gallery here.

  • […] Start lower. It’s easier to start low and raise your prices than it is to lower your prices later. But . . […]