I once met an artist who refused to price his work. He wanted the potential buyer to set the price. He also wanted the maximum dollar amount he could get for the work. I asked him, if someone walked into your space today how much would that piece of art be? And he didn’t have an answer. I could only imagine he does this same guessing game to his viewers and potential buyers, no wonder he was having a difficult time selling work!
People either overestimate or underestimate prices on art and will talk themselves out of the piece when left to guess on the price.
Basic pricing Formula: Having prices is not negotiable. As a professional business and marketer, you need an answer to the question, “How much is this?” As an artist, you are a small business regardless if you are a registered LLC or a sole proprietorship. This means you need to operate as a business. You have goods for sale and they need a price. Your price needs to pay for the supplies, your time to make the art, and bring in a profit.
Don’t forget to consider the commission cut that galleries take when pricing your art.
Price Tags: Price tags placed on the physical artwork itself is optional. If you don’t want to sticker or label each work of art, then consider posting a price list nearby. Consider more permanent lists or signage and also consider having price slips, this way interested buyers and collectors can leave with a list and think about their purchase.
Having multiple options for price tags and labeling is better. If someone has to ask you the price for your art then that should be a red flag that you are missing sales. Always have a price on or adjacent to an item.
Negotiation: Ask yourself if you are willing to have some wiggle room with your price structure. Some artists are firm on their prices, others will allow collectors to negotiate. Consider letting big or higher-priced work have a negotiable price range. Consider having a price range for your work and be willing to cover the sales tax.
Being a little bit flexible with your prices can help sell your first few large big prices, lock in a market value for your work, and can cause buyers to buy one than one piece.
Price Changes: Be willing to change your prices based on professional recommendations. This means suggestions from gallery owners, curators, and other professionals. Price changes should not happen because you think you can get more money for your work. Your prices need to be a deliberate business choice. It can be easy to underprice work when you’re an emerging artist but once you realize you have a market and begin making some consistent sales, it can be easy to raise prices quickly. Quick price increases can cause you to work your way out of the market.
A gallery won’t exhibit an artist selling paintings for $10k a piece and then next month exhibit an artist selling work for $100 dollars, investigate the price range galleries sell at before applying.
You won’t sell the pieces when you hide the price.
2 thoughts on “Pricing Considerations Artists Need to Know”
This is interesting and I always tag paintings on Art fairs. But what about websites? Should there be prices on the website? Greetings, Kathrin
I think having prices available somewhere is important but for some artists may want to use their website as a professional portfolio (their goal isn’t to sell). In this case you may not want prices visible. But if you are in the business of making work to sell and you want to grow your collector base, I would definitely recommend prices for your website. Its hard to people to gauge prices of art so providing the sticker price is important. New collectors can feel pretty embarrassed if they reach out and ask and find out that the price is out their range. On my own website, I list the price, or I list sold for each piece. And then I have a “shop” page on my website which is a direct link to my Etsy shop where patrons can look at the work for sale or perhaps purchase a print. If you want to have a more discrete price list, you could always design a downloaded PDF that lists the prices.