One of the most common topics for artists just starting out, is how you should price your original works of art. Having your work for sale on Redbubble, a default price and commission is set for you, so it makes it very easy. However, for your original works, determining how to value them is not as straight-forward. There are many important factors to consider, and they not only affect you the artist but also your collectors, potential buyers, and galleries that may exhibit your work.
When thinking about the value of a work of art, you are not just taking into consideration the materials but the countless hours you have spent perfecting your craft, your education, and of course your creativity. Now, there are no solid rules when it comes to pricing your work, and if you do work with a gallery it’s a great idea to get advice from the gallery you work with. The following tips are to get you started when coming up with a pricing formula for your works.
The first thing to do when coming up with a pricing method is to compute the cost of materials. This includes canvas, paper, any paint brushes, pencils, paints, and even framing. The price of the materials you use will be added in to the final price of the work. Now if you use the best materials money can buy this is going to drive your cost up, and if you are just starting out this might not be the best idea. It’s also likely that you won’t use all of the paint you buy on just one piece, so think about the materials you use, how much you use of each one, and try to come to a figure that seams reasonable for that work of art. Any money you spend, including shipping when applicable, should be a part of the final materials price.
The next step is to figure out how much your time is worth. Many artists don’t include the initial sketching and planning, at least in the early stages, and focus more on the time it took to create the final work. It’s good idea to really think of the long term when it comes to landing on an “hourly rate”, as the ultimate goal is for this to raise as times goes by. You don’t want to start out too high, especially as a new artist, and make it harder to raise your rate when the time comes. The price of your work will rise as your demands rises, so really take this into consideration. Think of a reasonable rate that applies not only for those works of art that take very little time to create, but those that take much longer. This will help you in coming up with a reasonable rate, and one that helps you build trust with your collectors.
It’s a good idea to take a look at other artists in a similar style to what you are creating. Take a look at the art market and artists that are just starting out, as well as those that have been creating for many years. Now, this tip is mainly to gauge the price you have settled on, it’s like a sanity check. You and other artists will have different goals and career paths, different opportunities and demand, but becoming informed on the value that other artists and works of art hold will help you a great deal. You will have a much clearer view of the art market, so that when if you hypothetically value your time at $1 million an hour (insert nefarious laugh), you will know that
If you do begin to show your art in a gallery, it’s common for the gallery to take 40-50% commission. This could make that $500 work you would sell without the representation of a gallery, end up being $1,000 with gallery representation. Keep this in mind if you plan on going that route, as it will affect how you price your work outside of the gallery world. No matter what price you do settle on, you always want to strive for quality in your work. Along with your creativity and accomplishments, having high standards in your artwork, your social media presence, website, and communication, will help to build your reputation and make it easier to increase the value of your art over the years.
Keep consistent with your prices. Regardless of where you sell your original works, online or in a gallery, inconsistent pricing will contribute to losing respect from buyers and galleries alike. Keep a record of your prices and since you will be researching the art market you will know when the time comes to raise them. I have heard a few times that a good rule to follow, is when you are consistently selling half of all works you create during a 6-month period, you might consider raising prices by 10-25% each year.
Hopefully these tips got you thinking about how price your work, as I mentioned there are no solid rules for coming up with an easy formula that will apply to everyone. This is one of those topics that is great for discussion, so if you have some knowledge to share, a different viewpoint of what is written above, or further questions, let’s keep this going.
Share your tips and questions in the comments below.