Waterford City & County Council's Arts resource site
The art making process is a fruitful and therapeutic one in itself. But when it comes to making a living, art is one of the toughest professions to get into. Fortunately where there’s a will, there’s a way and there are ways to make money from your work. However, the trick is to price your artwork for what it’s worth and for the correct audience/ clientele. With this in mind the the Agora Gallery in New York set about working up the key elements for artists to price and sell their works of art.
When pricing your artwork, there are several factors to consider: Pricing artwork can be broken down to three stages: setting artwork prices for emerging artists, adjusting prices over your art career, and setting prices for exhibitions and events.
Setting Artwork Prices for Emerging Artists: The first thing for emerging artists to consider are the costs of materials and labour. Certain materials are more costly than others (oil paint are usually more expensive than acrylics, canvas is usually more expensive than paper). Also consider the hours of work put into a piece. Think of the rate of jobs you worked before and how you value your time. €20 per hour is a good starting point. Smaller works should, all things considered, require fewer materials and less time to complete. For this reason, smaller works should always be priced lower than larger works when made of comparable materials.
It is also advisable to look at similar artists in your field and what they charge for their work. If their work is very similar to yours but cheaper, they may sway potential buyers to their work instead. also if they’re work is more expensive, it may be possible that you are underselling yourself.
Adjusting Prices Over Your Art Career: Your education and training can be a major factor as well. An artist who holds a BA in Art is going to command higher prices than someone who is self taught, and even more so an artist who has attained an MA . The cold hard facts are that well-established artists don’t sell at the same price points as newly emerging artists. However, the change doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, artists’ prices grow with their careers.
When raising your prices there are other factors to consider: For instance, a recent successful exhibition (if over half of the works on display sold, minimum of 5), a prize in a Noteworthy Competition or increased Media Attention (ie: articles in high-profile magazines or websites). You’ll want to stick with gradual increases of 10-15%, but in special circumstances, you can stretch to 25%. Also consider your output: If you have a vast number of artworks and are constantly creating new work, you should price your works lower than if you only have a few available works and only create one new piece per year (Basic supply-and-demand).
And be willing to negotiate: You may price your artwork at a higher point than you’re willing to sell it for, to give yourself room to haggle while still staying in a range you are comfortable with. There are two advantages to this method: first, your haggling clients will feel like they got a bargain; and second, you may end up making more money off of buyers who don’t haggle.
Setting Prices for Exhibitions and Special Events: When showing your work in a gallery, an art fair/ collective exhibition, be aware of the prices of your co-exhibitors. Your work should be priced very similarly to theirs: too high and it will never sell, too low and it won’t be taken seriously with the others. Be aware of your audience: A big city gallery audience is always willing to spend more on artwork than a small-town local audience. Additionally, buyers at large outdoor markets will want to spend less than buyers inside a gallery.
When working with a gallery, you’ll have to start factoring the costs of commission into your prices. For art fairs, you might have to pay for the booth space. For any out-of-area events, you should consider the cost of shipping and transportation. But remember: Don’t cheat your gallery! If you use your gallery relationship to promote your artwork, but then sell through your own website at a lower price, you are cheating your gallery out of their commission. Your gallery may drop you immediately, and other galleries will be less likely to work with you in the future.
And finally, don’t confuse price with value. A work that sells today for €200 can be worth millions when you’ve reached international fame. If you are selling works at a low price, do not think that it means you are any less of an artist, or that your artwork is bad. Cheap doesn’t need to mean ‘cheap’, and artists who confuse these two become self-conscious, discouraged, and uninspired.
By pricing your artwork right, you are one step closer to finding your art a new forever home.
For more information, Click Here to get a more in depth insight into pricing your artwork, courtesy of the experts at the Agora Gallery in New York.