PRICING YOUR ART WORK
Excerpt from “Starving to Successful” by J. Jason Horejs, gallery owner
It’s a mystery, because there really is no rhyme or reason to the value
of art. The intrinsic value of art is ephemeral: the true value is in
the eye of the beholder. But here are some guidelines:
1.Always refer to the price of your work in terms of retail value. *You
should have one consistent price for any piece of work. *There should be
no lower “studio” price. Think of the value of your work in 2 parts: The
value you create in the studio of your talents and skills, and the
effort that it takes to market and sell the art. Most artists agree that
in most cases it is easier to create the work than it is to sell it. If
you sell a piece through your own effort, you have earned both halves,
if the gallery sells it, the gallery earns the second part. Do not
under-value your work by reducing the price.
2.*Be consistent when pricing your art*. Years ago an artist could
arbitrarily adapt to circumstance. The internet has made this practice
impossible. People will now check their computer to see if they
overpaid. Another aspect to this principle is to raise the price on your
entire body of your work if you institute a price increase lest you
confuse your collectors.
3.*Institute a pricing formula*. A buyer is looking for reassurance when
buying your work. Painters should price by the square inch. A collector
will be reassured that the larger the painting, the higher the value.
Figurative painters should also price by size but add one more variable:
the number of figures. Photographers should price by size, factoring in
the number of prints: the higher the edition, the lower the price per print.
4.*Research comparable artists*. Research your competition and determine
how to position your pricing competitively. Create a spectrum of the
prices and find the center. The tendency of an artist who is searching
for a price is to start lower than the competition. This is a mistake.
Under-pricing can be as detrimental as over-pricing. Often a collector
will fall in love with a piece, but if the price is too low she begins
to question her taste. During an economic downturn, the opposite
expectation seems to occur. Lower priced work tends to fall off.
5.*Don’t price your work at local prices to the detriment of national
sales*. If it won’t sell in your local market, don’t sell in your local
market. Many successful artists do not sell in their own home town. Find
galleries that will bear your prices.
6.*Don’t lose money*.Keep careful tally of the materials and time
expended in your work; then make sure you can recoup your costs when
work sells, together with enough to compensate your efforts. Don’t find
this out only at tax time.
*7.**Do not overprice*. Do not under-price but *don’t over do it.
*Remember you need to be comparing to artists whose work is comparable.
Don’t compare yourself to the world famous. Raise your price but once
you have sold at this new price, you are married to it.**
*8.**Don’t over-analyze – just pick a price and move forward with
confidence. *Pricing is completely arbitrary. Select a price based upon
your competition, your profitability, and your goals.**
*9.**Review your pricing regularly. *Analyze the past year’s sales*.
*Look for trends in subject matter, or sizes that sell well. If your
inventory is moving too much, it’s time to raise your prices.**
*10.**Don’t ask for help pricing your work from a potential gallery.
*While this might seem like a good idea, I don’t recommend it. You are
striving to convey the impression that you are a professional. By asking
for a suggestion you are relaying two messages: that you are not as
prepared as a professional as you need to be and that you haven’t sold
enough art to establish a market value.**