by Margaret Danielak
Pricing art is not only challenging, it is often quite frustrating. If you are a professional artist with many awards and a long exhibition history, national name recognition, have major collectors, noted commissions and numerous past sales, you can charge higher prices for your original work than an emerging artist, or one just out of college.
SEVEN PRICING FACTORS
I therefore suggest artists price their work based upon the following seven factors.
At what price are other artists, exhibiting in the same geographical area with a similar background, producing work of a similar style, in the same medium, commanding for their work? Note, I do not say, “What is being charged for the work?” but rather, “At what price is the work actually selling?” How many pieces is the artist actually selling?
Try to find out the answer to these questions and you will learn your price range. The price of everything, including art, is determined by what people are willing to pay, and what the overall market will bear, not by how much time it took to create the item, or how much money was spent promoting it.
At what price have your pieces of a certain size and style sold for in the past?
Are you famous? If so, you can charge more for your work. Frustrating though it may be, even artists with little or no talent can command high prices if they are famous.
Are your paintings seven feet long or five inches square? Size matters when pricing art. Even though it may take longer to paint a small piece, one generally cannot command as much for a small piece as for a large piece.
Is your art “traditionally beautiful?” Are specific pieces of yours especially striking? Auction houses use several factors for assessing the value of the pieces they sell. I highly encourage artists to visit auction websites to see exactly what the auctioneers consider when selecting a price range.
Beauty, you will note, is one of the important factors. If some of your pieces are exceptionally beautiful, colorful or recognizable, you may be able to command higher prices.
If the economy is soft, you might need to reexamine your prices. Since art is considered to be a non-essential luxury item, you will need to ask yourself, do you really want your pieces to sell? What is more important to you; sale of your work or the art itself?
How you feel about your art is very important. Some of the work you have produced, you may simply not want to part with for less than a certain price. If you can afford to wait it out, then, by all means, hold onto this work. You just may be able to sell it for more money next year, in a different location, when you are exhibiting the work to a different group of people.
Some artists produce a very limited number of original pieces, so they price their work very high, so high that the originals are not often sold. Such artists might wish to explore licensing and publishing so they can keep their originals and make money on reproductions.
Sometimes artists will tell me that they are going to raise their prices because someone told them they were “under priced.” More often than not, the person advising the artist was not an artist, gallery owner, rep or collector. Furthermore, the person giving this sage advice was not someone who had purchased art from either the artist or from his gallery or rep.
It is very easy for someone to tell you that your work is under priced if they are not an art collector and have not purchased art and do not know the market.
Consider raising your prices if the following occurs:
➤ You have won a prestigious nationally-recognized grant or award
➤ Your other pieces of a particular size and price have sold easily
➤ A major collector has acquired your work or commissioned a piece
➤ A major museum has acquired your work or is hosting an
exhibition, perhaps retrospective, of your work
➤ You have obtained critical press coverage
➤ You have obtained a major commission
➤ You have become famous (or infamous!) overnight
When do you feel it is appropriate to raise your prices? Has raising your prices affected your sales positively or negatively? How do you feel about it?
Margaret Danielak is the owner of Danielak Fine Art and the author of "A Gallery without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues" (ArtNetwork Press) which was a featured selection of North Light Book Club.