Pricing artwork is one of the most difficult tasks that emerging artists face, especially when they first begin to work with galleries and begin to establish their art business. To make it even more complex, artists sometimes price with their emotions. On one hand there are artists who overprice their work in order to impress viewers, hoping to make the artwork look more valuable. Sometimes this works, but usually only when the collector is naive or when artwork is spectacular and gets the attention of serious collectors. Then there are some others who lower prices of their artwork as they tend to feel sorry that the art collector has to spend so much.
When pricing your artwork, there are several factors to consider. The first and most important factor is setting artwork prices for emerging artists. One usually starts by calculating the cost of materials. Acrylics on canvas are usually worth more than graphite on paper, and both are worth less than a large, stainless steel sculpture. Even if one buys material in bulk, you can still roughly estimate what the prices were. Your artwork should never sell for less than the cost of your materials. Another factor one must take into consideration is to calculate cost of labor. How much time did you spend working on this piece, and how much should you be paid per hour? Consider any other jobs you may have, or previous jobs you’ve held to determine what your time is ‘worth’. If you’re just starting out, don’t overvalue yourself immediately. Your value will grow as your reputation does. It’s always easier to raise your prices after you’ve made many sales than it is to lower your prices after no sales. Being forced to lower your prices due to lack of interest can greatly harm your reputation.
The size of your artwork matters, too. Smaller works should ideally 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.One should also look at similar & surrounding artists. If there is another artist in the area with a similar background who is selling works like your own for lesser money, you have to recognize that most buyers will turn to them instead. Keep an eye on your competition, be aware of what they are doing and always consider this when setting your prices. While it’s acceptable to give discounts to close friends or even as a marketing tactic in order to create long-term relationships, keep your average artwork price at a level that shows you’re a serious artist.
The next stage after this is adjusting your prices as your art career progresses. When your work is selling well, it means that you’ve proven there is value and demand for your artwork, so you can afford to increase the price. However, one or two successful weeks is not enough. You should be looking at least three months of consistent sales. You can also consider raising your prices when you’ve had a recent successful exhibition, if over half of the works on display are sold, or if you’ve won a prize in a noteworthy competition. Any of these circumstances might increase the value of your works, but you should be careful about sudden price hikes. For the most part, you’ll want to stick with gradual increases of 10-15%, but in special circumstances, you can stretch to 25%.
You should be able to justify your price points. As you begin to show your work in new venues, you’ll be interacting with a lot of art professionals. These are people who won’t be fooled by improvised prices. You must either be ready to show proof of previous sales or if lacking that, proof that other comparable artists are selling at the same price range. When working with an art gallery, you’ll have to start taking costs of commission into account. 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. All things considered, you’ll start raising your prices as you do more of these events to recoup the losses.
The hardest thing about pricing your artwork is viewing it through an objective & impersonal perspective. If every artist priced their artwork at what they valued it as, there wouldn’t be any affordable art on the market. The audience doesn’t always see the emotion and stress that went into the work any more than you see the stress of factory workers who put together your clothes. By pricing your artwork right, you are one step closer to finding your art a new forever home.