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.
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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