Sell your artwork by setting the right price

Fundamental principles of pricing your art

One of the first questions that artists have to answer when they decide to sell their work is “How much should I charge for my art”. There is a number of factors that need to be considered, and developing a pricing system for selling your work is fundamental in order to be successful in the market. In this article, we will have a look at the very first considerations, in the process of estimating the right price for your artwork, including timing, expertise and reputation. A second part of this series will examine additional factors that have an impact on the development of a successful pricing system for your art, such as competition and valuation.

How much time have you spent working on it?

When you first make the decision to sell your artwork and you have difficulties setting the right price, considering the time you spent creating it, should be your first step. As with all professions, to make this viable, you will need to charge an amount proportional to the time you have spent working on the artwork. Estimate roughly how many hours it took you to complete, set an hourly rate that satisfies you and then this is a starting point for the artwork price. Of course, this becomes way more important when selling your art is your main source of income. If you are selling your paintings primarily for the joy of doing so and for receiving the satisfaction of your work being appreciated, then although time is important, you might want to consider the following aspects first.

Expertise, Experience & Reputation

If deciding your hourly rate is another problem for you, you need to take into account your expertise, level of experience, and how established and well known you are as an artist. Similarly to all other professionals, you will be able to charge more when you have a higher level of experience, when you have a long standing presence in the sector and of course when your reputation has been established. Comparing to hourly rates from other professionals of the same level, might be a way of gauging where you should start (ie. If you are just starting to sell your artwork, see how much is the hourly rate for an entry level teacher or office worker for example). It would make sense to see what other artists your level charge too. Again, this is only an indication and should be part of a wider market research, informing your final decision.

Expenses

Charging for your time is fundamental, however including any expenses you make, means you will not lose any money from selling your art. Art supplies, advertisement, packaging and postage, agent fees etc are only some of the expenses that naturally occur. Don’t forget to factor these in, and make an informed decision in terms of passing part (or the total amount) of your expenses to the client. Depending on the amount you charge, based on your time and experience, these costs might be negligible. For artists starting just now though, most probably agent fees and postage can be a high proportion of the final selling price.

This is just the beginning

Although it might already sound too complicated, the reality is that these are just the foundation principles for setting the right price for your art work. There are other parameters, such as peer competition, how buyers value the artwork and the taste and financial status of your target audience, that need to be considered. These aspects might have a serious impact on whether you actually sell the work for the asking price or you eventually need to reconsider your pricing strategy. We will cover these items on a second article in two weeks time.

If you have questions, or wonder how I price my art work, feel free to leave comment below and start a conversation.

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7 thoughts on “Sell your artwork by setting the right price

  1. I think the only question you need to ask yourself is: if someone paid me, or I received, x would I be happy with it ( allowing for time, materials, fees, tax and the rest of it) and work from there. Once you’ve settled on this amount add 10% as some punters will want to haggle and it gives you a bit to play with.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Graham, I think you are right. It always comes down to personal satisfaction with the reward you get from your work. There is no universal guide to what an artist must charge for their painting, sculpture etc. However, there are some objective criteria that need to be taken into account when someone shapes their expectations about the potential selling price.

      In the end of the of the day you don’t want to undersell your work but you don’t want it sitting in the cupboard for ever either because the price is too high!

      Including the personal satisfaction is a very good point indeed! Thanks for bringing it up 😉

      Best wishes,
      Iasonas

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Again, I think it comes back to being satisfied with the remuneration, Iasonas. If you value the piece so high that it doesnt sell, it is better that it stays with you. Too many times I have heard the lament – oh I wish I had asked for more. Set the price, step back and consider if you would be happy with getting that amount. If you are go with it – but take time to think it through.
    In my experience, if someone wants a piece fifty or sixty quid extra isnt going to deter them. If you value it stick with it. The other week I sold a painting that I had had for at least five years. I was pleased with it and then one day someone saw it who was equally pleased with it. It just took a while to find the customer and job done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Graham, I now see your point and I agree with you. There is nothing stopping an artist setting a selling price according to how much they “value” their work, rather than following a strict mathematical algorithm. If the artist is precious about a specific piece, then obviously time and expenses mentioned in my article above, might be not covering to the slightest the expectation (ie. a “favourite” drawing that takes someone 10min to make, doesn’t need to be priced for 10min of the hourly rate if that makes sense?). This was more of a rough guide for someone starting to sell and having no experience with estimatimg a base price.

      Thanks for your useful contribution, which admittedly shed light on an aspect that I gave less weight while developing this (and the next…)article. I will try to include some thoughts on this, on the sequel publication. I d love to hear your views on that one too, next week.

      Kind regards,
      Iasonas

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle with this all the time. I honestly don’t charge much because I tend to make miniature, fast artworks that don’t cost much to make and honestly don’t take much time. I can often make 2-3 artworks in less than a half hour lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well there are various aspects on pricing your artwork. Time and expenses are only two of those. Depending on your target audience, your platforms, quality of work uniqueness etc the price might be able to rise or possibly get lower. There are many factors that need to be taken into account. Later this week I will be posting a second article with some additional considerations.

      There is no set algorithm but these two articles should highlight a few things you need to consider when pricing your work.

      Have a read through that sequel when published and feel free to ask any questions. I d be happy to help if possible.

      Best wishes,
      Iasonas

      Liked by 1 person

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