Pricing Your Art

(Aside:  I asked a few good friends to get an advance look at this website and the #1 comment I got back was that I needed prices and purchase options.  One friend said, ‘Quit being so selfish! Tell us how to buy these and what the price is!’  With that as inspiration, I am working on it.  I am adding prices for original paintings today and once I lock down a style of print and pricing, I’ll have prices for photo prints and also for less expensive giclee prints of the paintings. I promise.)

$Ohhhh it’s such a mystery!  Why is this one worth $500 and that one $5,000?  Aside from artist acclaim, artistry, technique,and so on, how does one arrive at a price for art?

Pricing usually seems plucked from air; and that’s not terrible.  I mean:  price is what a willing buyer offers and what a willing seller accepts.  Since value is a very subjective thing, price is sort of plucked from air – or, rather, from the ethers of one’s brain!

Sometimes pricing is silly.  That’s when there is no relation between the art, the artist and the price, which is usually astronomical.  That usually means the artist doesn’t want to sell the art (a good possibility) or they are so in love with what they’ve done, they’ll only part with it for big bucks.   As I’ve said before, you can’t be in love with your art.  It screws everything up.  Once the last stroke is made, once the signature is in place, it is history (and on to the next piece).  At that point it also becomes a product.  And only bad or poorly priced products don’t sell.

Ok, so I’m being a catty, pontificating jerk.  But here’s the thing:  I’m serious about making art.  And I’m serious about selling it, too.  I have to be.  I paint so much that if I didn’t sell, I’d run out of space or paint over stuff (which I do on occasion).

Still, you’d think there’d be some logic to pricing. . . and, turns out, there can be.

Over the past couple of years I’ve met a few artists who price by the square inch.  They settle on a rate per square inch and apply it to whatever canvas they have.  One successful artist is at $2 per square inch.  So a 30 x 40 piece would be $2,400.  Another friend is at $1 – $1.50 so the same size piece would be in the $1,500 range.   As pieces get smaller, price per square inch tends to go up.  It also rises as the artist achieves more acclaim.

Me?  I’m loving the process, but do want to sell my work.  So I’m shooting for $1 per square inch.  Often I figure that and then step back, sometimes reducing the price a bit, sometimes raising it.  Galleries usually take between 30% and 45%, and if you are serious about selling your art, a good gallery is well worth that!

By the way, I want to be clear about something.  Pricing – by the inch or by any other method – shouldn’t have anything to do with how much time or materials were involved.  Ultimately that’s irrelevant.  My pieces involve lots of layers – that’s how I get to depth – and so they take quite a few hours to make.  But that has no bearing on price. It doesn’t matter that this painting took 40 hours to create and that one took just 4.



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