I wish I could pull a number out of the hat and tell you how to price your art.
It’s not that easy, as you’ve surely discovered. Here are general guidelines to begin with.
1. Start lower. It’s easier to start low and raise your prices than it is to lower your prices later. But . . .
2. Don’t undervalue your work. Selling your art too cheaply means you’re probably not getting paid what it’s worth.
Also, low low prices set you up for all kinds of problems later and will result in a mess of anger from other artists who see you as “the cheap one.” When buyers see that your work is “cheap,” they question higher prices from other artists.
3. Never ever ever undersell your galleries. You have one price for your art – whether a gallery sells it or whether you sell it from your studio.
Any gallery that gets wind that you sold at a lower price will drop you like a hot frying pan. When the word reaches other galleries (and it will), you’ll be treated like toxic waste.
4. If you don’t have a gallery and don’t want a gallery, you have more pricing freedom than other artists. Even then, I caution against pricing your work too low.
5. If you work faster and are prolific, your prices might be lower than an artist’s whose work takes months to complete. Or they might not be. Because . . .
6. If you can’t keep work in inventory – if you sell it as fast as you make it – it’s probably time to raise your prices.
7. Larger works are usually more expensive than smaller works.
8. Works made from higher-priced materials have a bigger price tag on them.
Works on canvas often command more than works on paper. But then there’s that whole framing thing. You have to frame works on paper.
So how do you account for that in your prices – so that works on canvas are still priced higher even though the framing is such a big expense? This is still a struggle for some of my clients.
Likewise, bronze sculptures have higher prices than carved wood. I don’t know how bronze artists can afford to have anything cast without a financial backer.
9. Artists who sell in smaller or economically depressed communities have found it difficult to ask for prices similar to artists in larger cities.
If you try to sell online, you don’t have just a small-town audience any longer.
10. Conduct market research to find comparables. Look for artists who do similar work using similar materials and who are at a similar point in their careers.
Whenever you compare your prices to those of other artists, make sure you know that the work you’re looking at is actually selling. It doesn’t do you any good to look at prices from an artist whose work isn’t moving.
11. Keep a price list. When someone asks you how much something is, you want to be able to tell them quickly and effortlessly. You don’t want to look like you’re unsure or are pulling a number out of a dark hole. Because, the most important rule when pricing your art is . . .
12. Radiate confidence. It’s remarkable how powerful this trick is. If you’re not confident in your prices, we’ll figure that out. Spend time deciding on the prices, then have confidence in them – knowing that the prices are grounded in reality.
You Might Still Struggle
Even with this list, you may continue to struggle with pricing – especially if your art isn’t selling. Please know that you are not alone.
Always remember #12 – once you have set your prices, have confidence in them.
What did I forget?