Once you have laid down your paintbrush and palette, it is time to price your masterpiece. Creating a sensible price structure is essential to a thriving art career. For emerging artists, this may seem an intimidating step; however, there are several guidelines to follow when pricing your art so that it sells. To help you price you art properly I have pulled together an Art Pricing Guide to ensure you have all the information you need. In this post we will go through the various formulas for pricing artwork, how to price art for beginners etc. Read on to learn more.
In short, your credentials and art form determine which price formula you use. You can multiply the square inch by your personal rate which is how much you wish to earn per hour. Alternatively, multiply your hourly rate by the hours spent, then add the cost of materials. Likewise, sum the height and width, then multiply by your price per linear inch. There are so many ways you can approach art pricing.
Once the creative process has come to an end, it is time to tackle the strategic component of pricing your work. There is far more to reaching a price point than following a simple formula. Gaining a deeper understanding of the criteria used to price art is vital to attracting buyers.
The Formula for Pricing Artwork
The (Square Inch × Personal Rate) + Cost of Materials Formula
- Find the square inches of your artwork by multiplying its width by its length.
- Next, determine the value of a square inch of your work. This value is based on your skill level and your reputation amongst your target market.
- Multiply these two values and add them to the total cost of your supplies.
When working with a gallery, double the total price of your work to compensate for the gallery’s commission. However, use a lower price per inch when appraising large artworks to avoid outpricing your buyers.
Inexperienced artists should price their square inch lower than established artists. The starting rate is approximately $2-$3 per square inch. This amount can be increased once you start working with galleries.
The (Hourly Wage × Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials Formula
- Determine a reasonable hourly wage for yourself. This is dependent on your proficiency and your prominence amongst your target market. Comparing your wage with artists of similar skill will help you fairly price your work.
- Multiply your wage by the hours you spent creating your artwork.
- Add the total cost of the materials you used.
The (Height + Width) × Price Per Linear Inch Formula
- Standardize the price of your artwork by determining the value per linear inch. This will also be based on your expertise and artform.
- Multiply this value by the sum of the height and width of your artwork.
This method works particularly well for artists who produce works with a wide range of sizes.
Standardizing your price structure simplifies pricing, making your work more attractive to buyers.
Why Should You Price Your Art Consistently?
Cultivating a relationship with your buyers and collectors includes building credibility through logical price structures. By maintaining consistent rates, your clientele becomes familiar with the price they can expect to pay for your work. Furthermore, established collectors compare similar artists when purchasing work. Consistent, comparable rates build confidence in your work.
Galleries prefer artists with consistent, reasonable price points, as their commission relies on the artist’s selling price. Erratic pricing could mean that the gallery undersells your work. Moreover, galleries are more eager to represent reliable, professional artists. To establish a good reputation, use coherent price strategies.
Finally, consistent pricing benefits you by fairly rewarding you for the hours you have worked and covering your materials’ costs.
Can you negotiate art prices?
As a buyer of art I seldom negotiate art prices as I respect the time and effort and skill that is required to create art. As a seller of art I get lots of potential buyers ask if they can get a cheaper deal or a discount if they purchase more than one work.
I prefer offering the latter option as it preserves my value as an artist and it allows me to increase the amount of revenue I can get per customer. I learned that in business school. They call it Average Revenue Per User. It is why fast food outlets ask if you want fries with that. It’s all about the upsell.
So if someone asks for a discount, perhaps you can counter with “I value my artworks and can’t really discount the price and as you are buying my works you want my prices to go up not down. If you purchase a couple of extra works I can give you a bulk discount on the total price?”.
This allows you to sell more works and the buyer still feels like they got a discount but actually paid more.
If you are happy to haggle with a buyer to find a price that they are willing to pay and you are willing to accept then by all means do so. Art sitting in storage is of no benefit to anyone and a sale is better than nothing.
How do you price art for beginners?
When I was younger I didn’t want to miss out on a sale so I would under value my artworks and sell them quite cheaply. I started with $10 for a drawing and $50 for a painting.
Either I was better than I thought or buyers loved my art but I had more orders than time.
I didn’t know what to do so I asked my dad and he said “double your price, and keep doubling it until people stop buying”.
So I doubled my price but the orders kept coming. I was selling my art and services to draw and paint commissions of portraits and people’s cars and pets on eBay.
Demand started to pick up to the point where I was not enjoying my work and my quality was dropping. I then adjusted my price up and watch as only the more interested buyers still buying.
Those looking for a bargain went to find the next starving and desperate artist to prey on.
I followed this process until I could ask for $500 a painting or $100 a drawing and still make regular sales.
If you find you raised your price too high and nobody is buying then it is ok to lower your price slightly until you find that balance between market demand and willingness to pay. When demand picks back up again, raise your price a little more.
Pricing art is an art form in itself.
How much should I charge for a drawing or painting?
Whether you are trying to price a drawing for sale or asking yourself how do you price a painting or how do you price acrylic paintings, the medium does not really matter to me.
I pick a simple formula and stick with it. Whatever formula you choose, you should it apply it across all your artworks as you are the common denominator in this equation – Charge what you are worth and what people are willing to pay – either charge by time or time and materials as stated earlier in this post.
The reason I say this is because the price difference between pencils, acrylic paints and oil paints is not that much over a long period of time but the time you take to complete a work does change.
For drawings I usually pick a fixed price and use that. Drawings do not take that long to complete but I do charge for my experience which has taken me 30+ years to gain.
The same with acrylic paintings or oil paintings and the like. I charge my experience.
How to Price Digital Art
Digital creators will need a different method to price art. Pricing traditional art considers dimensions and material. However, these considerations do not apply to digital work, as their dimensions can be easily changed, and there are no tangible materials used.
The most common method to price digital art involves multiplying the hours you worked by a reasonable hourly rate. The average rate that beginner artists charge is $10 per hour.
Tracking the hours you have spent working is critical to include in your pricing method.
- Manually track your hours by taking note of when you start and stop working. This is appropriate for work that takes one to two sessions to complete.
- Download an app to track the time you have spent using a program. Work.exe and ActivityWatch are popular productivity tracking apps. This is suitable for commissions that take multiple sessions to complete.
When Should You Consider Increasing the Price of Your Art?
If you have consistent sales for six months to a year, or you are selling at least half of your art shortly after finishing it, it is a sign that you could increase your hourly rate.
Alternatively, selling a minimum of half of your showcased work is a nod to bump up your price.
If there is a greater demand for your work, you may consider raising your prices by 10% to 25%. Veer closer to 10% if you are increasing your rates purely because of consistently good sales.
Reaching a career milestone that establishes your reputation as an artist will grant you an increase closer to 25%.
A justifiable increase is key to maintaining a good relationship with your buyers. Illogical price increases damage your credibility, thus negatively impacting sales.
Still can’t decide? Sell your art by Auction
That’s right, if you are still unable to work out how much to price your art and this art pricing guide has made things even more confusing for you with all the options then run a few auctions to sell your art.
I actually did this quite a lot and sometimes I would sell my art for great prices and sometimes lower than what I wanted to pay, but the average price gave me a good middle art pricing guide to go with.
I always sold my art using an auction on eBay but these days there are plenty of other places you can auction off your art such as catawiki.com which is the most visited curated marketplace that lets indie artists auction their artworks.
Please keep in mind when you do sell on eBay or other auction sites that there are fees associated with the final selling price that will be deducted from your final sell price.
Art Pricing Guide Wrap up!
There are three formulae commonly used to price art. Your choice of pricing formula depends on your skill level, your art form, and your reputation amongst your target market.
When working with galleries, it is advised to double the total price per work to compensate for gallery commission.
Digital art follows a unique pricing formula since the cost of materials is not applicable, and the dimensions of the work fluctuate.
The pricing method uses the product of the hours spent working and your hourly rate.
Consistent, logical pricing builds a credible reputation amongst buyers. Galleries prefer to work with artists with uniform price ranges to avoid underselling work, thus earning a lower commission.
Consider increasing your rates when your sales are consistently high, or at least half of your showcased art is sold. It is essential to justify a reasonable increase to maintain credibility and good relations with buyers.
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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash