How to Price & Sell Your Artwork YourselfCreating balance between undervalue and overvaluing your work
If you’re an emerging artist not yet represented by a gallery, or you find that the high commissions are just “not cool” and you would rather do it yourself, it’s absolutely possible to go at it alone. To aid you on your journey, let’s look into pricing and selling tips to assist you along the way.
Often artists on the way up either undervalue their work out of humility or overvalue it because of the amount of work and passion involved in the work.
To reduce this and create balance, you have to separate the value you place on your work from the ultimate price. While your opinion of the work should be a consideration in the pricing, it’s recommended that you consider other factors as well.
Price & selling history
What have you sold? Where have you sold? How much work have you sold? How much did it go for?
What did you use to create this work? Did you use oil or wood? Gold leaf, recycled materials, etc.?
Printing, materials, framing, etc. What are these costs?
How long did it take to complete the work? Perhaps consider using an “hourly rate” to calculate the pricing of your work: if you charge $25 per hour and paint for 4 hours, the work would cost $100 without factoring in the other considerations.
How big is the work? Typically, larger means more expensive.
How many? Is this an original or are there 50 others like it? Typically, the larger the edition the less expensive the product.
Where was this work shown? Was it a part of a noteworthy exhibition?
How many pieces did you make in a year?
Solo exhibits & Museum shows incur a higher price point.
Research & Review
Research at young galleries or art fairs with emerging talents to get an idea of the market price range. Specifically those items comparable to your work. This is also a great time to network and introduce yourself to other artists and gallerists.
Review artist’s CV to get an idea of where they are in their career. It’s important to remember that work will be more expensive when an artist is represented in an effort to promote the artist and develop their career. If you’re not represented, don’t price your work as high even if you’re “just as good.”
Slow Price Increases
As you begin to sell your work, pricing becomes easier since you have a price relative to the past sales. This can be tricky, however, because if you allow your prices to increase too fast you burn out potential buyers, and that leads to “lowering”.
You really don’t want to ever have to lower your pricing. Critics can be unkind to artists who drop their prices, making it hard to sell work, and creating speculation which can take years to reverse, especially amongst the “art world”
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
It’s considered “standard” to offer a 20% discount to Museums & Art Advisors. Other than that, there aren’t any standards.
Artists may often give 10-20% discounts to buyers who purchase more than one piece.
A “Special” 10% discount aimed at creating a relationship with the buyer. If that is something you’re interested in doing, be sure to factor that discount into your original pricing.
Friends & Family
Selected discounts for your friends and family which can be determined at your own will.
If you sell your work, it’s important to create a “paper trail” as this also shows a level of professionalism and creates reassurance of value. This is your work, you’re not selling your hobby at the town fair. Always print two copies of the invoice: one for you and one for the buyer.
Create a standard template on your computer or thumb-drive, so you only need to “plug and print”.
Tip: File the invoices in your thumb-drive by year-work-date sold.
When pricing and selling your work online, continually compare your prices to available art in your area, as well as on the Internet. Have a good selection of reasonably priced works available for purchase. Give the buyer the option of starting small without having to risk too much money. Prints & original sketches are a great place to start. Keep in mind to leverage social media to communicate print sales, new releases and more to drive traffic.
“Clear, high-quality imagery that is true to the work is best”
Know that art prices fluctuate over time due to a variety of factors. Set your initial price structure according to the initial value of your work and your local or regional art market, but be ready to revise those prices at any time. The more aware you are of market forces in general, and how people respond to your art in particular, the better prepared you are to maintain sensible selling prices and to maximize your sales.
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