Pricing your art professionally
Pricing your art professionally can be a difficult task, because every art has different values, meaning and complexity. However, this article will show you that pricing your art is not a rocket science. Price of art can be determined by a variety of factors – understanding of art itself, the relation to the economy, experience of the artist, art techniques, where you sell your arts, and more. We advise you to read this article in entirety to understand the intrinsic value of your art as well as how you should price your art.
What is art
Art has different forms, concepts, delivery, meaning, expressions and many more. Here are some famous definition by dictionary and famous artists.
[from the 1300s] Skill; its display, application, or expression… [from the 1600s] The expression or application of creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting, drawing, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
-- Oxford English Dictionary Online
To evoke in oneself a feeling one has experienced, and…then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling—this is the activity of art.
-- Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910), Russian author, What is Art? (1890)
What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.
-- Henri Matisse (1869–1954), French artist, Notes of a Painter (1908)
Why is art so expensive
Art itself is not expensive. In the world of economy, prices are determined by supply and demand mechanism. When the supply is low and the demand is high, prices tend to rise. In the context of artwork, imagine if there is only one painter who can paint a masterpiece and 1,000 art collectors want to get their hand on it. In this illustration, the masterpiece becomes so rare and it will push the price up. A rare artwork, a piece from deceased famous painter, an artwork that requires complex techniques and years to make – all these are the conditions to make art expensive. That is why a designer piece is always more expensive than a mass-produced one. Learn more about modern arts and their famous artists.
Picasso’s painting Le Rêve (The Dream), one of a series of portraits of the artist’s young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, painted in 1932 during their passionate affair. This work is one of the most sought-after pieces by Picasso, and was sold for $150m.
Before you scroll down to look at our guide on how to price your art, we want to share that to us, SENIIKU Market, art can be a luxury and universal. No, it does not mean that it is exclusively reserved for the rich and famous. Luxury lies in quality craftsmanship, exclusiveness and class. Please read “What is the meaning of luxury”, especially with the rise of young and rich group such as artpreneurs, technopreneurs that uses art to disrupt how we conventionally perceive things – by understanding the meaning of luxury in art, we can better price our art / design / creation.
5 Methods on how to price your artwork
METHOD 1: (Hourly Wage x Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials + Variable Costs + Edition Multiplier
Do not be a struggling artist. Do not sell your artwork for cheap. However, do not blindly price your artwork. Please note that you need to price your artwork reasonably, art buyer / collector will not want to spend money on overpriced or low quality works, especially from an inexperienced artist. You are free to price yourself or follow our steps below.
STEP 1 - Pay yourself a reasonable hourly wage, add the cost of materials, add variable costs and make that your asking price. You can estimate the costs directly contributed to the making of your artwork (i.e. if you use half a paint bucket for your painting, simply add the cost as half a bucket, not a whole). Let’s say :
- Cost of materials (turpentine, canvas, oil, brush, etc.) = $100
- Cost of variables (electricity, internet, room rental, etc.) = $50
- Time spent to make the artwork = 15 hours
- Estimate worth of your time (on average $15-25/hour) = $20 / hour
- So, ($20 hourly x 15 hours) + ($100 of materials + $50 of variables) = your Base Price ($450)
STEP 2 - you can add your additional margin such as for experience (especially if you have earned awards, public recognition, so on). This margin is also to allow you to get your desired profit after cost inclusion of of shipping, manufacturing, printing, insurance, and so on. Note that for most cases, the purchaser will pay for the shipping, but the artists will pay for the rest and attribute those costs into the product pricing. Let’s say
- Margin for 5 years of experience = $100
- Margin for getting awards, accolades, trophies = $70
- Margin for production, packaging, insurance, etc. = $80
- So, ($100 of experience + $70 of recognition + $80 of other costs) + $450 Base Price = your Real Price ($700)
STEP 3 - For Limited Edition item, you can set 200%-300% of the total artwork price. And for Open Edition item, you can price lower (you will be able to sell more volume, so it is appropriate to price your art lower)
- So, 200% x $700 Real Price = Limited Edition Price ($1,400)
STEP 4 - If you sell through a gallery, the gallery will adjust the price up to cover their costs of selling, marketing, administration, e-commerce and more.
METHOD 2: (Hourly Rate x Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials.
This works well for a new artist who is starting their professional career. You can decide on your hourly wage by comparing yourself to other similar artists with similar level of experience. If you happen to have a higher price than theirs, consider reducing your rate.
Example for an artist who charges $10 an hour, works for 25 hours to complete a piece, and spends $200 on materials:
- $10 × 25 hours = $250
- $250 + $200 = $450
METHOD 3: Square Inch × Dollar Amount
Artist Daily contributor and professional artist, Lori Woodward multiplies the size of her painting - in square inches - by an appropriate dollar amount. Art consultant Maria Brophy and her husband, artist Drew Brophy, use Lori’s technique to pricing his work. To get the square inches of painting, multiply the width of the work by the length. Next, multiply this number by a dollar amount that makes sense for your reputation and credentials. Then round to the nearest hundred. Finally, double the cost of your materials and add them to the square inch dollar amount. This accounts for the 50% commission physical galleries usually take to sell your work. But, if you don’t sell from galleries, don’t account for gallery commission.
Emerging artists should consider pricing their art at more affordable rates, while established artists can charge higher rates. Lori charges $6 per square inch. She started off with a $2-$3 range when she was selling at outdoor art festivals and increased the dollar amount once she started working with galleries. Make sure to not outprice your buyers, though. With larger paintings, Lori uses a smaller dollar multiplier.
Example for a painting with a width of 18 inches, a length of 24 inches, a square inch multiplier of $4, and a material cost of $100:
- (18 in × 24 in) = 432 square inches
- 432 square inches × $4 = $1,728
- Rounded to $1,700
- $100 × 2 = $200
- $1700 + $200 = $1,900
METHOD 4: (Height + Width) × Multiplier
Melissa Dinwiddie, an artist and author of the blog Living A Creative Life, recommends linear inch pricing if you have paintings of many different sizes. On a guest post for The Abundant Artist, she explains that it’s a good approach because it’s very simple for buyers to understand. Square inch pricing can be confusing with a range of sizes. For instance using a multiplier of $2.50 per square inch, your smallest painting (4 × 4 inches) will be $40 and your largest painting (32 × 32) will be $2,560. That can be hard to explain to a potential buyer and could put them off. Linear inch pricing is a lot simpler to follow.
Example for a 4 × 4-inch painting at $20 per linear inch:
- 4 + 4 = 8 linear inches
- 8 linear inches × $20 = $160
Example for a 32 × 32-inch painting at $20 per linear inch:
- 32 + 32 = 64 linear inches
- 64 linear inches × $20 = $1,280
METHOD 5: Multiplier x Cost of Materials
This is a quick and dirty method. You can multiply your cost of materials with 3x or 4x multiplier. On top of that you can add your margin to the total. This way, even if you are working with a physical gallery that takes away 50% fee (as well as charging you subscription fee), you will still get your desired profit (and hopefully extras!)
Example for a painting that cost your $200 materials:
- $200 x 4 = $800
If you are selling an oversized artwork that might require wooden crate, you are advised to add an estimated 15 kg (33 lbs) to the original artwork weight. Note that if you are engaging a professional crating services, their services may cost you up to $500 US. Please do your own research prior to pricing your artworks.
Where to sell your art
SENIIKU Art Creator Market invites all artists from all walks of life to submit their works on our marketplace platform. We believe in helping artists and promoting artists. IMPORTANT NOTE: SENIIKU does NOT ASK for joining/upfront (including listing) fees upfront, unlike most galleries.
For more info - learn more about what SENIIKU Market can offer new creators - click here