Setting prices for art should never be made arbitrarily. Many new artists mistakenly choose their prices based on what other artists are selling theirs for, without paying any attention to experience.
What these artists have to realize, is that it probably took awhile to build up to those prices.
Art prices should be based on the actual value of the piece, along with the cost of materials and time spent. You may value the artwork highly, but others may not. The only way for others to know how much your art is worth is if you show them evidence of past sales, gallery shows, portfolio, awards. etc.
If you are a beginning artist, and you do not have this, there is a general rule below to help you set a price for your art. Once you set this price, it can be increased regularly as your reputation increases.
If you missed the first part of this series on pricing art, you may find it here:
How Should Emerging Artists Price their Art?
The answer is to start small and build from there.
This sounds simple enough, but may not be easy for some, especially for those who are eager to earn a living through their art from the outset. But, the only real sure way of success as an artist is to start small, then… promote, promote, promote!
As your art gets out there and seen by many, you will hopefully receive buyers. These art buyers will display your art in their homes, office spaces, etc. Those artworks are your advertisements, and occasionally, you may receive indirect sales. As you continue promoting and building your body of artworks, your reputation and art value increases. Your prices should increase along with it.
Tips for Pricing and Selling Art
- Charge the same for your artwork wherever you sell them.
- Offer your dedicated art buyers discounts occasionally. This will keep them interested, and coming back for more.
- Initially, in determining your art’s worth, you should base it on the cost of materials and the time spent.
- Any costs of art promotion from things such as travel expenses, promotions, and even a percentage of your internet bill if you display art online, can be factored in. Basically, anything that incurs an expense as a result of art promotion can be used to decide your price. If you are promoting a group of artworks, then this cost should be divided among individual pieces.
I have to say that I have not heard of anyone else factoring in these types of expenses, but in my opinion they should. Beginning artists will have difficulty getting their artwork out there if they do not have the funds for art promotion. Therefore, these costs have to be added in such cases.
- Do not set prices based on emotions. You may feel particularly attached to a certain artwork, but do not set your rate based on that. The art buyer will wonder why certain prices are higher than others, and you will have to justify the increase. For example, some of my artworks are based on personal moments from my childhood, such as Unsettled. If I increased this drawing by 25% because it has personal elements, the art buyer might not understand the relevance. My story in the artwork, even though personal for me, would not make my drawing more valuable to others.
- Never agree to discounts on your art, unless they are for regular buyers. Other art buyers who have purchased from you may hear about it, and wonder why they did not receive a discount too. There is a possibility of losing your regular art buyers by agreeing to deals or discounts with just anyone.
- Do not undercut other artists prices at art fairs. It is considered a good etiquette to support the art community in your area by keeping pricing consistent with others.
- Keep price increases consistent. If artists increase their rates too much, they may lose many of their regular art buyers, and sell a lot less. Charge the same for your artwork wherever you sell them.
When to Raise Art Prices for Art Buyers?
This is completely up to you as an artist. It depends on how much effort you are putting into promotions, creating, and incurred expenses, along with the success you are having at selling your art. But, if you are stuck, you may use this general rule:
Increase your art’s worth based on the number of artworks sold, and the time period that you sold them in.
For example, if an artist sold 10 paintings within a five month period, they might consider a slight rise in rate. The increase should be small, about 5-10%. Whatever percentage you choose, keep it consistent, so art buyers who have been supporting you, will continue to do so. Most will welcome the increase, since it adds extra value to the artworks which they have already purchased.
Formula to Set Art Prices
This is a general formula that can be used to determine what your art is worth. Whether you use this or not is up to you… but it is a starting point.