One of the common questions that artists have is how to price the art that they make. It’s a tricky topic. Unlike in manufacturing industries, where you can calculate the number of hours worked and the materials used to create and figure out from that a comfortable profit margin, art is so much more subjective. There are often emotional attachments to take into consideration - for example if you have spent 80 hours creating a painting of your childhood home this will have significantly more value to you than it will to a stranger. So how do artists go about pricing their work? There are a few tips which can help you to find the right price point.
Do your research
Make sure that you are visiting artists’ exhibitions and open houses often. It’s only by looking around at art that is selling in the communities you’re targeting that you will find out how much those audiences are willing to pay. Try to speak with the artists in your network, too. Although pricing can sometimes be a sensitive issue, many artists share similar feelings that this is one of the most tricky parts about their work.
When you’ve figured out how much your art should be priced to attract your audience, try not to convert it into an hourly rate. Sadly, you will find that the pieces which have taken the most time and effort and love on your part might not sell at prices which reflect the hours you have put in. Having said that, there should be some consideration given to the materials and effort which you put in - so make sure you’re not pricing yourself into poverty. When you are just starting to make a name for yourself, the negligible profits on the pieces you’ve slaved over can take some getting used to, but there will be times when making a relatively modest sale to the right customer will be worth it for the exposure you will get. But try not to let your art just fly out of your gallery for next to nothing.
Unleash your inner salesman
There is a benefit in having a price on your art - customers perceive the value in something for which there is a price. But this is always something that can be played around with to see what works. Leave some haggling room. People always love a bargain, and if you can take 10 - 15% off a price for someone, they will feel like they have got a good deal. Just as with all creative endeavours, making it into a business requires a little marketing instinct. When it comes to making sales at exhibitions, a few closing techniques can always come in handy to nudge your audience into buying your work.
If you’re an artist who wants to make a living out of your art, you need to take into account the number of paintings you need to sell at a price people are willing to pay. The best way to do this is to make sure your market research is up to date and ensure that you’re comfortable with the price you’re putting on the label. As with all products, selling art is often a case of basic economic principles of supply and demand - ie the lower you put your price, the more sales you will get. But ensure that you have done the maths beforehand and that you’re selling at a price that makes sense to you.