It’s a simple question, but there seems to be no clean cut answer. Let’s face it, pricing your art is difficult, it’s an emotional subject, it might trigger lots of doubts & insecurities and all the opinions out there might not actually help you come to a conclusion or more importantly: your price.
When figuring out the price of your work there are two considerations: practical pricing aspects & emotional pricing aspects. I’ve also included a bonus section on how not to price your art.
Practical Pricing Aspects
There are a few techniques you can use and things to consider when trying to work out a price.
Your Materials what are the costs of the things you used up in making the art? Think of all materials including paints/other media, embellishments/objects, varnish, substrate, framing if applicable.
Your Time is there a minimum charge per hour that you want/need to get paid? Almost any job has an hourly rate. Having a think about what yours is will help you not undervalue your painting. e.g. if you spend 6 hours on a painting and charge £$€50 (whatever your currency is), you will be getting paid £$€8.33 per hour. Is that enough, or not?
Price For Size a handy starting point to arrive at a figure for differently sized work is working out a price per square inch. Start with £$€1. That means a 12×12″ work is £$€144. Work backwards thinking of your materials & your time. Is it enough or does it need adjusting? Try increasing it by 0.5 increments. As the popularity, collectability and skill of your work increases you might increase the overall price.
Consistency it is helpful if you price your work with some semblance of consistency. Pricing one piece at £$€50 and another similarly sized one for £$€500 doesn’t make sense and may affect your integrity.
Emotional Pricing Aspects
Uncomfortable the right price usually makes you slightly uncomfortable. It can trigger your feelings of not feeling good or worthy. But better to price at a level where you feel appreciated, than a price where you feel comfortable but then when you sell you feel resentful. I have found that letting go of a piece of art is always hard, but when the price is right it’s easier because it feels like a beautiful exchange rather than the feeling of ‘losing’ something.
Your Wish what is the amount you would LOVE to get paid for this? Not the amount you ‘think people will pay’. Not the amount you ‘think it is worth’. What is the amount you need to feel completely and utterly valued? That’s your price.
Fear Of What Other People Think what if people laugh? What if people think ‘who does s/he think s/he is’? What if they think it’s insanely expensive? Or cheap and therefore rubbish? That says something about them, not about you. It is not your job to predetermine what other people will think. It is only your job to put your art out into the world. You can’t know in advance whether other people find a price worth it, or expensive, or cheap. Chances are all these opinions will exist, but they are not your client, your client is the one who wants your art and is happy to pay your price (or save up for it, or buy a print instead).
Your Audience people don’t tend to buy art the way they buy a microwave or jeans (e.g. I need a new microwave/jeans, this is my budget and now I’m going to shop around until I find the thing that best suits my needs). No one buys art because they need it, they buy it because they want it. When someone buys your art it’s usually because they want your art. You build up a connection with your audience, your collectors, your tribe. Those are the people who will buy from you. By building up this group of people you will also ensure they value your work.
How NOT To Price Your Art
Common pitfalls and ways in which we tend to undervalue or mis-price our art.
Charging what someone else charges you’re comparing apples with pears. Trying to deduce the value of your art by looking at other people’s prices will never give you the answer.
Undercutting pricing slightly cheaper than others in order to sell your product might work for TVs or pints of milk, but if you do it with your art you’re undervaluing it and misunderstanding its place in the world
Competing with mass production this comes back to the point above about building up your audience so people want and buy your art because it’s yours. People will never value your art if you see it as something that has to compete with a mass produced canvas from IKEA.
Asking a friend/family member what they’d pay this one is so tempting!! But they are not your audience! Avoid this one if you want to keep your sanity and loving relationships.
I hope that has given you some things to think about in order to price your art confidently! I’d love to know what you thought and if you have any tips, let me know in the comments below!