Pricing artwork is something with which many artists struggle, and it may be a scary thing to hear at first, but there’s no one right way to price your art. Many artists begin by researching the pricing of other similar artists, and while you can, and should, do this necessary research, there’s quite a bit more to consider.
Any buy/sell relationship is one in which both parties want to walk away happy, a win-win, right? The buyer wants to feel like they received a great product for a great value, and you want to feel like your work has great value, so the following two questions are important:
- What is the buyer willing to spend?
- What is best for you?
In order to get to this win-win relationship, let’s look at some dos and don’ts on how to price your artwork:
The Dos and Don’ts of Pricing Artwork
Lacy Grey by Kate Zimmer
Do: Sever the emotional ties with your work. Be objective.
It’s okay to be emotional about your work, but in order to sell your work, you’ve got to keep your emotions out of it. Remember that you are a business person who wants to continue creating and making a living from your art, so your art is ultimately a product and the question is now how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.
Don’t: Get pricing advice from family and friends. Seek how to price your art from experts.
Your family and friends are likely to have similar emotional connections to your work as you, so they will likely tell you it’s priceless. Well, that’s not at all realistic. An expert will help you evaluate market trends, where you are in terms of your career and location, and what is a more likely and reasonable selling price.
Need help in the pricing department? Schedule a time to chat with me to discuss the best way to price your artwork. If you sign up for an artist career coaching session with me, you can pick the topic of your choice for us to review in a 30-minute phone conversation.
Do: Think of your career in terms of levels. Pricing will change.
If you’re an emerging artist, you won’t sell your work for the same amount as someone who’s a twenty-year seasoned professional. You won’t have the network. You won’t have the reputation. But with time and effort, you will eventually get there, and your pricing will increase over the course of your career.
Don’t: Be known for lowering your prices.
Instead of lowering the prices, try a customer loyalty program. If a customer buys one, offer a percentage off all other purchases, say 10% or so. Often buyers will have their eye on a smaller piece of yours and end up walking out of your studio with two!
If the economy is good and you’ve had a stellar season with proven sales (think of this as more like six months, not just 3 or 4 months), you can begin to reevaluate your pricing. Maybe raise it by 10%. If the economy is bad, hold off on increases until it gets better. No one will want to pay more when the market is doing poorly, and you could price yourself out of business.
Do: Keep in mind that you are not just an artist. You are a business person, and your art is a product.
Structure your pricing like a business does, based on price per unit, supply and demand, and break-even point, and have consistent pricing available on your website. Having this available and organized in advance helps you because you don’t then have to take time to answer questions or justify your pricing.
Think about it this way: When you go into a grocery store to buy apples, you see the price listed right there where the apples are displayed. It’s not hidden. It’s not a guessing game. Grocery stores would lose customers and go out of business if they kept prices hidden and required us to ask a sales associate for the price each time we were interested in a product.
By the same token, your artwork’s price shouldn’t be a guessing game either. Buyers aren’t dumb. Whether it’s $2 for a pound of apples or $2,000 for fine art, buyers want pricing information and they will do their research. If something doesn’t look right, or if it’s not consistent, you’ll lose potential clients, and these could have been clients that would have returned to buy even more art from you in the future.
If I Gave You Myself by Helene Steene
Don’t: Get defensive about pricing questions.
Always remain calm. Questions don’t necessarily mean someone disagrees with your pricing. Once you’ve set your pricing based on an expert’s advice and analysis, you can explain (and justify) your prices based on time, materials, and past sales. With this information, potential buyers will be more likely to understand that your pricing is reasonable and justified, which means they will be more likely to keep talking with you and your chances for a sale increase with each moment you keep that conversation going.
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