Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Help > Pricing Your Artwork

Pricing Your Artwork

How to price your artwork is one of the toughest questions artists face.  Today we’ll look at the various options you have to put monetary value on your work. While all artists struggle with the value of their work, today I’m going to focus specifically on new artists. You’ve probably been creating art since you were a child.  Then one day someone says, “you should sell your work.”  You may be somewhat shocked, but you’ll also feel pride.  Being told you need to sell your art validates the fact that your work is good.  It’s a great feeling.  Then, you’re left wondering, “now what?” How in the world do you put a price on your art?  There seem to be two distinct camps when it comes to new artists pricing their work.
  1. Under-valuing your work.
  2. Over-valuing your work.


There are many reasons an artist may under price their work.  It could be because they don’t believe people will pay what they think they deserve.  It could be that they don’t have confidence in their skills, they don’t think their work is worth a higher price.  It could also be that they want to keep their work affordable for people of all incomes.  They might think being accessible to all income levels will give them more exposure, getting their name out there and thus generating more sales.  


Likewise, there are reasons for over-valuing your artwork.   It could be that you have strong sentimental feelings for your work and it can be hard to let it go.  It may be that you see other, more famous artists, getting high prices for works that are not (in your opinion) as good as yours.  Remember, those artists who not only charge huge amounts, but also sell their work at those amounts have already made a name for themselves.  They are well known and have a following.
Don’t let the nasty ego bug creep up and cloud your judgement.
  Let’s face it.  No matter how you feel about your work it’s hard coming up with a set price when you want to sell.  Every artist faces this dilemma.  What you first need to do is take a good, hard look at your work.  Don’t be over critical but likewise be honest.  Search google for artists who are working in the same medium as you are working and see what they’re charging.  Once you find those artists look long and hard at their work and compare it to yours.  You need to find someone who is not only working in the same medium, but also working at the same skill level as you.  You really need to be honest about your skills.  

Formulas For Pricing

Next you can take a look at various formulas used to set your prices. One of the most important things to remember when pricing your artwork is that you need to at the very least make enough money to cover the supplies you used in creating it!  So here’s some ideas to get you started.
  • Adding up the costs incurred in creating the work, then add a percentage for the time invested in creating it.
  • Hourly rate for the creating time of the piece.
  • Price per square inch.  ( example: an 8 x 10 inch piece, multiply together giving you 80 square inches, then multiply 80 by the amount you want to charge.)
  • Price per linear inch. (example: an 8 x 10 inch piece, add 8 + 10 = 18, multiply 18 by the amount you want to charge.)
Each of these methods can work.  Personally I’ve found that of all possible methods, pricing by linear inch seems to set the most consistent prices for multiple sizes of artwork. Once you pick your method and set your price, you may find that what the formula works out as a final price is a bit more than you may be comfortable charging.  Being concerned that you are charging too much is a normal feeling.  You want to be fair but you will also need to be fair to yourself.  The amount of time, effort and skills will all play a part in pricing along with the cost of materials.  Whatever you do, never drop your prices.  Once you set your prices, walk away.  Over time (this is where patience comes in) as your skills improve and your work is selling you can gradually increase your prices. A wonderful artist, Lisa Clough of Lachri Fine Art summed it up best by saying, “Art is a luxury item.” We need to repeat that over and over and remind ourselves that the fact at the end of the day is that art is indeed a luxury item.  Having prices too low can be detrimental to establishing our name in the art community.  It can hinder our financial growth.  Some people will see our “affordable” prices and equate that to sub-par work.  It’s not nice, but it’s a fact of life in the art world. Summing it up
  • Be honest about your skill level.
  • Make sure your prices cover the amount of supplies.
  • Set your prices.
  • Continue improving your skills.
Until next time, Keep Creating!

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