By Ekaterina Popova
One of the questions that I get most frequently from emerging artists is “how do I price my work?”. The confusion surrounding this topic is entirely understandable because there is no exact science or formula for doing so. However, over the past decade, I have collected a few tips that will help you figure out what to charge your collectors and get started with selling your beautiful art.
1. Research your market.
Because there is no exact formula, you will have to do some research. Most importantly, visit a few galleries in person that show work by emerging artists that have a similar amount of experience or are at the same point in their career as you. Take notes on various sizes, mediums and subject matter to see the average prices in the market. If you don’t have access to galleries that you can visit in person at the moment, take some time online and look at websites like Saatchi, Artspace and other similar platforms to see prices for work that relates to your own. The great thing about the internet is that you can type in any topic you need help with and get millions of results. Of course, some art that you come across will be too cheap or too expensive, so average out the prices until you are comfortable with the one you can use for your work.
2. Include the cost of your materials.
It would be almost impossible to calculate exactly how much paint, clay or charcoal you use to produce one piece of work, but keep in mind roughly how much you are spending on supplies to make sure that your prices take these expenses into account. The cost of materials is especially important to consider when you are just starting out and your rates may be relatively low already. Also, don't forget to include the costs of shipping supplies such as bubble wrap and tape, which can add up quickly.
3. Keep track of time.
While I think it’s important to know how much time you are spending in the studio, I wouldn’t necessarily use it as the only pricing point for your work. Some artists spend long, tedious hours on each piece, while others make a ton of work but only select a few final pieces out of the batch. Neither process is wrong or right, just different, and this is why pricing can often feel so complicated. I suggest finding a number that you feel confident presenting to potential clients after researching galleries, calculating materials and keeping your working hours in mind.
If the price of your work is too high, you might resist promoting your work and shy away from selling. If it’s too low, you may feel depleted or even resentful towards your buyer. Test out your happy medium and then commit to it for a year to get yourself established. Remember that in order to be professional and respectful in both your buyer and gallery relationships, stay very consistent with your pricing so that no one feels cheated.
Next, come up with prices for all the types of work that you do. Vary the rates for each size (i.e., larger = more $) and consider selling different mediums at different price points. For example, my 9 x 12 inch watercolors are $300, while my large oil paintings start at $1,300. I highly suggest having a consistent price point for every size and type of work you create. Put all of this information into a document that you can easily reference when discussing with customers or a gallery.
I truly hope that you enjoyed this article and found it useful. For additional pricing tips, I also recommend this article from Saatchi.
For more general art career advice, you can also check out our book ‘The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists’. If you are looking for a place to sell your work, we are currently in the process of launching a new gallery and curated platform called PxP Contemporary. Learn more and find out all of the details about how to submit here.