How to price your art

This digest is for artists

This digest is brought to you by Patrons MCAA. Patrons is a full-suite art advisory firm that helps private and corporate art collectors with diversifying their wealth through art collection, appraisal, packaging & transportation, storage, insurance, maintenance and restoration.

Title: Break forth from the Cyst | Artist: Steve Ekpenisi | Medium: Shredded mild steel plate
Size: 182 cm | Year: 2021

Taking a cue from Oscar Wilde’s popular quote, “When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together to dine, they discuss money.” This week’s publication will focus on the dynamics of pricing your art as an artist.

If you are an artist reading this digest, you would agree that figuring out what your next art piece will be is never really an issue. It is often said that good artists can create art blindfolded. From history, one of the early struggles new and young artists seemingly face at the start of their career is in relation to the business side of their profession; pricing their art.

Arguably, it is not easy to set a price on a piece that does not yet have a market value. Being creative, artists may feel that their artworks are priceless but then they quickly realise that they must balance that with monetising their creativity. Overcharging and undercharging collectors is a big concern they have to bear.
Appropriately pricing your artworks ensures that as an artist, you can earn and live comfortably and grow financially through your craft.

Here are 6 tips you can put into practice:
Size based pricing
You can set a price per square inch. Then, multiply the length and breadth of your artwork in inches. Your total should be multiplied by the price you set per square inch.
Let us use a simple example to simplify this math. First, we will assume that the price per square inch is $2. Next we will assume that the length of your artwork is 14 inches and breadth is 12 inches. Your result from that multiplication will be $2 x 14 x 12 = $336. You can choose to round down the price to $330 or leave it at $336.

Do your research
Sometimes, artists undermine the extent and usefulness of their network and fail to leverage it. By reaching out to other artists, especially those at a similar career phase as you are, you can discover much about how they price and run their art business. Beyond just pricing, you can get answers to questions such as these; ‘What is the average price for framed works? Or sketch works?’ ‘How about unframed works?’ ‘Does a stretched painting cost more?’ ‘How do I price my sculptures?’ Be sure to take into consideration the perception you want to establish for your brand as an artist when taking in suggestions and recommendations from industry peers. What makes you unique as an artist is how you set yourself apart from the crowd.

Do not undercharge
For fear of an overcharge and the need to make ends meet, a lot of artists undercharge when they sell their works to collectors. At the very least, artists need to ensure the full cost of production – canvas, paint, framing, logistics, and everything in between – is covered in their pricing. Deduce how much you are worth per hour, calculate or estimate how many hours it will take you or it took you to get the finished product, then add it to the cost of the artwork. Think of yourself as a consultant who is working for a client, and charge per hour billing accordingly.
For example, say you place your per hour billing at $8, and you spend a total of 15 hours from start to finish. First, we would calculate the total consultative cost of the artwork based on the number of hours you spent creating it to be $120 ($8 x 15). Next, we would consider the cost spent purchasing the materials used, let us assume $35. Framing the artwork cost $150. Total transportation cost incurred is $100. The total cost price of your artwork will then be $405.

Set a price and stick to it
When you set your price, you are basically setting your standard. Be confident in sticking to your standard irrespective of how tempting it may sometimes be for you to sell for less. Collectors can easily spot it when you lack confidence in your self assumed value.

A word of caution here however, do not try to overprice yourself. Based on your acceptance and growth in the industry, you want to set realistic prices without feeling obligated to lower your value. You must always be ready to justify to the collecting community the value placed on yourself and your artworks.

Consider varied pricing
As an artist you fundamentally know that the more collected your art is, the more conversations you spark within the collecting community, the quicker your value grows. That being said, collectors who may be interacting with you for the first time may be turned off by a significantly priced artwork of yours. To mitigate losing such interests, you may consider creating small sized or miniature pieces priced affordably. A collector who is unable to afford a $3,000 painting may be able to afford a $350 miniature piece by the same artist.

Not only does this ensure you still get to make a sale, it broadens your reach within the collecting community and is a great way to get collectors in the rink. When a collector displays your artwork in his home or office, he will be inclined to fall in love with your artwork and style. It will be a conversation starter when he hosts guests, and thus, you enjoy more exposure as people will be curious to learn more about you.

Representation matters
Gallerists are very comfortable talking about art and money. They are in the business of art and have mastered the art of pricing. Simply put, gallerists are able to convince collectors that the art they sell is worth the asking price. Having a gallerist represent you as an artist not only brings about more credibility to you as a brand, but also shields you from talking shop.

Galleries are influencing institutions within the collecting community and can chart the course of an artists’ career. They have the reputation, the influence, long standing relationships with collectors, critics, fellow dealers, museums and other institutions within arms length.

Pricing is a constant struggle many artists face. If this is you, I hope you found this digest insightful.

If you are still unsure about how to go about pricing your artwork, Patrons can be a soundboard for you on this. We have 20+ years industry experience in representing artists and in art dealerships.

Until next digest,


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